Chaucer's Legendary Good Women

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Chaucer's Legend of Good Women is a testament to the disparate views of women prevalent in the Middle Ages. Dr. Percival contends that the complex medieval notion of Woman informs the structure of the poem: in the Prologue Chaucer praises conventional ideas of female virtue, while in the Legends he demonstrates a humorous skepticism, apparently influenced by a contemporary antifeminist tradition. This is a comprehensive account of the Legend's interpretative puzzles, which does not ignore the element of political writing and adds to a close and nuanced reading of the text an examination of literary, historical and social contexts.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Detailed and nuanced..." Speculum

"The strength of this fine, comprehensive study is that it clarifies what have been difficult interpretive issues by placing the poem within various medieval literary, political, and cultural traditions—ranging widely from the Marguerite tradition in French poerty to the de regimine tradition in political philosophy, from the antifeminist tradition to the defense of women topos, from the palinode to medieval translation theory. This newest volume adds considerably to the literature serving upper-division undergraduates through faculty." Choice

"Percival's contextualizatin is convincing and is accompanied by a thorough apparatus that provides an excellent sense of the scholarship in the field, and the place this book has earned it." Rebecca L. Schoff, Albion

"...she does fill in some empty spaces left by previous critics as they pursued their arguments, and it is here that Percival's book makes its contribution. Especially useful is the way in which Percival pulls together much already available, but disparate, information on some of the courtly contexts within which Chaucer was working." Lisa J. Kiser, Modern Philology

"Percival grounds her argument in an analysis of an impressive array of literatures and genres of the period, including marguerite poetry, palinodes, courtly debates, anti-feminist tracts, and political writing, as well as Chaucer's classical sources." Rebecca L. Schoff

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Product Details

Table of Contents

Introduction; Part I. Chaucer's Good Woman: 1. The good woman: the daisy; 2. Alceste: the good woman of legend; 3. The good woman: a legendary beast? Part II. The God of Love: 4. The God of love; 5. The accusation; 6. The defence: tyrants of Lombardy; 7. The defence: Matere and Entente; Part III. The Palinode: The Legends of a Good Woman: 8. Ariadne: the ladies and the critics; 9. Medea: the ladies and their reputations; 10. Cleopatra: legend of Cupid's saint; 11. Dido: composite woman; 12. Lucrece: too good to be true? 13. Phyllis and inherited male perfidy; Part IV. The Legend as Courtly Game: Epilogue.

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