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Was Chaucer really a “writer”?

February 8, 2017

An excerpt from an OUPblog article published on 8th February 2017, written by Christopher Cannon, a member of the Oxford Scholarly Editions Online editorial board:

“MS Ellesmere 26 C 9, fol. 153v.” Public Domain via the Huntington Library, San Marino, California. - See more at: http://blog.oup.com/2017/02/geoffrey-chaucer-writer/#sthash.X8LdGIuz.dpuf
We know more about Geoffrey Chaucer’s life than we do about most medieval writers. Despite this, it is a truism of Chaucer biography that the records that survive never once describe him as a poet. Less often noticed, however, are the two radically different views of Chaucer as an author we find in roughly contemporaneous portraiture, although the portraits in which we find them are themselves well known.

We have, first, the portrait of Chaucer in the margin of the Ellesmere manuscript, one of the oldest surviving copies of the Canterbury Tales. Next to the beginning of the narrator’s Tale of Melibee, we have an image that derives directly from a tradition of drawings begun by someone who seems to have known what Chaucer looked like. The image insists on what those of us who teach Chaucer regularly try to tell our students is not true—that the narrator of the Tales is Chaucer himself...

Read the rest of this article on the OUPblog >

Image Credit: “MS Ellesmere 26 C 9, fol. 153v.” Public Domain via the Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

 


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