A Reading of the Canterbury Tales

A Reading of the Canterbury Tales

by Bernard F. Huppe


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In the human comedy of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales the pilgrims react to one another. The tales they tell reveal their own characters and serve in turn to supply dramatic settings for other tales told in response. In the chronicle of their self-revelations and of their reactions to one another, a thematic design may be traced. Chaucer’s art of high comedy has behind it a literary tradition of which it is the fulfillment. Briefly this is the thesis of Professor Bernard F. Huppé’s A Reading of the Canterbury Tales.

The book itself is the direct result of more than fifteen years of lecturing on the Canterbury Tales, during which time Professor Huppé’s views on the dramatic structure of the tales have been modified, clarified, and sharpened through discussion with students and colleagues, and through his study of Chaucer’s literary tradition.

A Reading of the Canterbury Tales retains the freshness and immediacy of a lecture series. It is intended to be provocative and to stimulate active discussion.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780873950220
Publisher: State University of New York Press
Publication date: 06/28/1964
Edition description: REVISED
Pages: 245

About the Author

Bernard F. Huppé is Professor of English and Chairman of the department at Harpur College of the State University of New York. He has taught at New York University, at Princeton, and has been Fulbright lecturer at the university of Vienna. Author of many articles on medieval subjects, Dr. Huppé is the author of Doctrine and Poetry (1959); and co-author of Logic and Language (1956), Piers Plowman and Scriptural Tradition (1951), and Fruyt and Chaf (1963).

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Introduction

Chapter 2 General Prologue

A. The Spring Song, lines 1–18

B. Chaucer: Pilgrim and Author

C. The Pilgrims

D. Elements of Dramatic Development

Chapter 3 Two Realities

A. The Knight's Tale

B. The Miller's Requiting

Chapter 4 Of Woe That Is in Marriage

A. The Righte Way: The Tale of Constance

B. The Wandering Way: The Wife of Bath

C. The Way of Patience: The Clerk's Tale

D. The Way of the Old Husband: The Merchant's Tale

E. The Way of Gentillesse: The Franklin's Tale

F. The Way of Eve with Adam: The Nun's Priest's Tale

Chapter 5 Ecclesiastical Corruption

A. The Wife's Spiritual Guides

B. The Friar-Summoner Quarrel

C. The Pardoner

Chapter 6 Dramatic Structure and Theme

A. The Dramatic Structure of Fragment VII: The Host and the Monastics

B. The Theme: Chaucer and the Parson


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A Reading of the Canterbury Tales 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I had the great privilege of studying Chaucer with Professor Huppe at Harpur College in Binghamton,New York. Professor Huppe's magnificent rendering of the Chaucerian line gave a sense of the deep and resonante beauty of its poetry. He also manifested his love of the 'Canterbury Tales' in his own highly Christian reading of the text, an interpretation commonly known as the Robertson- Huppe theory. This work contains the masterful reading of the text by one of the premier scholars of the field. Anyone who wants to understand the various layers of meaning in the Chaucerian text would do well to read this book.