This is a wide-ranging and detailed study of English narrative verse in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. Piero Boitani describes and analyses the undisputed masterpieces of narrative (such as the works of the Gawain poet, Langland, Gower and Chaucer), as well as the anonymous romances and specimens of religious and comic narrative which form the background to the better-known poems. The book is divided by literary genres or structural systems: chapters on the religious, comic and romance traditions are followed by a discussion of dream and visionary narratives and a chapter on story collections including those of Gower. The rest of the book is devoted to Chaucer, who mastered all these types.
' ... the sensitivity of the criticism of individual works astonishes and persuades. The Gawain-poet's indication of every sensation, every thought and every move in the temptation scenes; the realization that Piers Plowman is a poem of voices in which time and objects have only a limited value; the shared cultural background which fuses the dialogue between Dreamer and Knight in The Book of the Duchess; the continual frustration of the reader's perceptions that make the book so rewarding.' The Times Higher Education Supplement 'Every part of this book is rewarding ... Especial attention should be called to the felicity of the writing ... Although it is described as translation, the text reads more smoothly than many books composed originally in english.' Studies in the Age of Chaucer 'This stimulating book combines diligent reading in medieval texts with adventurous reading in modern European and American critical methods ... a spirited critical adventure into English medieval narrative.' Cambridge Review 'The pages on Piers Plowman are one of the best short introductions to the poem one could imagine ... The study of Troilus is likewise penetrating and humane ... outstanding rich and sensitive accounts of ... the Pardoner's Tale and the Nun's Priest's Tale.' Anglia