A Distinction of Stories: The Medieval Unity of Chaucer's by Judson Boyce Allen

By Judson Boyce Allen

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Extra resources for A Distinction of Stories: The Medieval Unity of Chaucer's Fair Chain of Narratives for Canterbury

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Eventually the whole city will be concerned with the love affair's resolution. 72 Here in part 1, however, we see only the beginnings of this struggle with disorder. " (I [A] 1348). In terms of the four-part distinctio of metamorphoses which Ovid­ ian commentary defines for us, this first part of the Knight's Tale presents the order of the natural. " In the descent-into-hell tradition, the natural descent meant being in­ volved in the normal human condition, whose possible future is hell and whose possible present is vice.

As the third section treats human efforts to arrange their own destinies, in consort with the gods who symbolize the forces of merely human and natural energy and calamity—love, hate, selfish self-preoccupation, and chaos—so the fourth deals with what actually happens when those arrangements go awry. The unexpected irony involved in the fact that both combatants, Palamon and Arcite, actu­ ally get what they have prayed for only underscores the point that merely human wisdom is not enough, and that finally there must come a Boethian recognition that within and beneath the events which fortune brings to pass there is truth not of human making.

20 below. 17. Boggess, "Averrois Cordubensis," pp. 20, 23. "Tragedy indeed [and by extension poetry] is not an art representative of men themselves, just as they are, as individual things falling into perception, but it is the art representative of virtuous customs and praiseworthy actions and beliefs of holy peo­ ple... " This and all other translations from Latin are our own. 18. G. L. Kittredge, "Chaucer's Discussion of Marriage," in Chaucer: Modern Essays in Criticism, ed. Edward Wagenknecht (New York, 1959), pp.

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