The Manuscripts of the Canterbury Tales

November 1991
20 line illustrations
144 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Chaucer Studies
ISBN: 9780859913348
Format: Hardback

The Manuscripts of the Canterbury Tales

Charles A. Owen Jr

Owen investigates what the manuscripts of the Canterbury Tales reveal about the way they came into being.
[see revs] This study of the manuscripts of the Canterbury Talescalls into question previous efforts to explain the complexities, the different orderings of the tales and the extraordinary shifts in textual affiliations within the manuscripts. Owen sees the manuscripts that survive, most of them collections of all or almost all the tales, as derived from the large number of single tales and small collections that circulated after Chaucer's death. This theory takes issue with all modern editions of the Canterbury Tales, which in Owen's view reflect the effort of medieval scribes and supervisors to make a satisfactory book of the collection of fragments Chaucer left behind. It is this collection of fragments, the authentic Tales of Canterbury by Geoffrey Chaucer, which reflects the different stages of the plan that was still evolving at his death.
CHARLES A. OWEN Jr is former Professor of English and Chairman of Medieval Studies at the University of Conneticut.


A pleasure to welcome a book devoted to all the manuscripts of The Canterbury Tales... deals with each manuscript in turn, giving some details of its order of tales, its unusual codicological and palaeographical features, its possible date and scribes, and its affilitations with other manuscripts... the sense of development in the manuscript tradition does come through. MEDIUM AEVUMThis is a work of bedrock scholarship in which Owen developes effectively his thesis concerning Hengwrt and the lack of evidence that any ordering of the manuscript fragments could be attributed to Chaucer. ...a major contribution to Chaucer scholarship. ROCKY MOUNTAIN REVIEW OF LANGUAGE AND LITERATUREContains much that is fresh, penetrating, and of lasting consequence... will serve as a valuable reference for some time to come. SPECULUM

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