These thirteen essays by distinguished Chaucerians deal with the most neglected genre of the Canterbury Tales, the religious tales. Although the prose works are also discussed, the primary focus of the volume is on Chaucer's four poems in rhyme royal: the Clerk's Tale, the Man of Law's Tale, the Second Nun's Tale and the Prioress's Tale.
Almost all of Chaucer's tales are religious in some sense, but these four works deal specifically and deeply with faith and spiritual transcendence. They appeal to qualities, such as pathos, not now in critical fashion, but at the same time they seem extraordinarily contemporary in their special interest in women and feminist issues. The time is appropriate to recognise their importance in Chaucer's canon, for he is a religious poet as surely as he is a poet of comedy and secular love. These essays survey past criticism on the religious tales and offer new approaches.
Contributors: C. DAVID BENSON, ELIZABETH ROBINSON, DEREK PEARSALL, BARBARA NOLAN, ROBERT WORTH FRANK, LINDA GEORGIANNA, CHARLOTTE C. MORSE, A.S.G. EDWARDS, CAROLYN COLETTE, ELIZABETH D. KIRK, GEORGE R. KEISER, JANE COWGILL.