This third volume in the highly successful Oxford Guides to Chaucer series offers a much needed introduction to Chaucer's Shorter Poems. General chapters on the social and cultural contexts of the Shorter Poems are supplemented by a guide to the genre they mostly exemplify - the love-vision form. The volume then provides individual chapters on the Book of the Duchess, the House of Fame, the Parliament of Fowls, the Legend of Good Women, and
the short poems; there is also an extensive appendix on Chaucher's language. The views of critics who wrote over fifty years ago are interwoven with those of contemporary scholars; traditional work on
dates and sources is combined with up-to-date theoretical approaches; established methods in literary history sit alongside today's historicist procedures; and medieval hermeneutics are discssed in the light of those of the modern era. Introducing Chaucer, the volume maintains, must entail the presentation of the diverse methods of reading Chaucer. Lively, provocative, and comprehensive, Chaucer's Shorter Poems will at last make accessible a crucial but often neglected
part of Chaucer's oeuvre.
`Minnis is the best equipped of all British medievalists for this Borgesian task. His extraordinary wide reading in both critical and contextual masterial is evidence throughout the book. He scores over his colleagues in the series by his openness and generosity in acknowledging the importance of the work of, for example, Lee Patterson and Elaine Tuttle Hansen ... Minnis's open engagement with recent political criticism is to be commended ... no
intermediate mediaevalist could fail to learn from Minnis's detailed summaries of, for example, scholastic discussions of dreams and authorship, or the contribution of French love visions to Boccaccio's Il Teseida.'
Times Literary Supplement
`He brings to bear a rich and varied background of classical, medieval, and Renaissance texts as well as literary and social conventions. The strength of the book lies in its argument that mutually contradictory threads do not cancel one another out.'
MLR, 92.3, 1997
`no one will fail to find many things which are both stimulating and perceptive in this volume ... a stimulating introduction to these poems'
N.F. Blake, RES New Series, Vol. XLVIII, No. 190 (1997)
`An important volume that most libraries and many individual Chaucerians will want to purchase ... a delightful tribute to Alastair Minnis's long devotion to medieval studies.'
Speculum - A Journal of Medieval Studies