« PreviousContinue »
Suggestions or sketches for a bibliography of Chaucer have been made by J. E. B. Mayor in Notes and Queries 1876 II: 530; by J. Maskell in the same journal 1883 I1: 381, 1884 1: 138, 141, 361, 422, 462, II: 3, 64, 422; in the Boston Literary World 14: 288 (1883); by Henry B. Wheatley before the Bibliographical Society in March, 1884, see their Transactions vol. II, pp. 11-12. The reference lists in Sonnenschein's Best Books and in Koerting's Grundriss zur Geschichte der englischen Literatur, 2d ed. Mimster 1893, are avowedly brief and partial; and Courtney's Register of National Bibliography, 1905, has under Chaucer but five entries. The Chaucer-bibliography appended to Vol. II of the Cambridge History of English Literature, which appears just as this volume goes to press, is of necessity condensed; but its choice of entries is irregular and uncritical, and it is defaced by numerous misstatements; e. g. it lists editions of "Chaucer's Works" by Sir Harris Nicolas and by Tyrwhitt.
In the present work no attempt has been made to include annotation of the Chaucerian text; this, it is supposed, is the province of Chaucer-editions and concordances, and the few such passages treated here are included because of their recognized historical position as Chaucer-cruces. Further, this manual does not comprise a list of the allusions to Chaucer; a work on that subject is in preparation by the Chaucer Society. Nor does it attempt to record all the lighter "literary" essays contained in the files of periodicals appealing to the younger or the very general reader; again, the section upon the life of Chaucer does not comprise such third-hand biographies as are usually printed in school manuals of literature, but deals with those accounts of Chaucer based upon direct investigation, or presumably so based, with notes upon early biographies which age has now rendered curiosities of criticism. The book as originally planned included a section upon the fourteenth century and Chaucer's contemporaries, obviously however a separate and equally large subject
The repetitions which occur have been permitted for the sake Of Jesserjing the great amount of reference from page to page, and also because of the probable use of the work for consultation rather than for continuous reading. To the custodians and owners of English manuscript collections and art galleries my thanks are due for their readiness to further every investigation.
B. The Appeal to Fact. Notes on the Life of Chaucer by Nicolas,
Appendix of notes on the dates of Chaucer's birth and
C. Editions of the Tales, chronologically arranged. Editions of
D. Editions of Selections, from the Works or from the Canter-
F. The Dates of the Tales. On the Relative Dates of the Tales.
The study of Chaucer's life may be divided into two periods, that of the Legend, and that of the Appeal to Fact. The first period extends from Leland to Nicolas, the second from Nicolas to the Life-Records gathered by the Chaucer Society, and subsequently. Many actual documents were examined and printed by Godwin, earlier than Nicolas, but the spirit in which Godwin's work is written forbids its inclusion among genuine biographies. The soberer investigations of Nicolas have been greatly augmented by the discovery, under the auspices of the Chaucer Society, of a number of official records throwing light upon Chaucer's life. All these records, forming the authentic foundation for a biography of the poet, are printed by the Society as the Life-Records below noted.
The work of killing the legend has, however, been difficult; for a most interesting and important summary see Lounsbury, Studies in Chaucer, vol. i, chap. 2, and his earlier article in the Atlantic Monthly 40 : 269, 592, entitled Fictitious Lives of Chaucer. The principal fictions regarding Chaucer, e. g. that of his imprisonment for conspiracy, are now well eradicated; but even among scholars still persist the tendencies to repeat statements without examination, to welcome an attractive but ill-founded suggestion, and to accept poetic commonplace as autobiography. See the slips in Skeat's Life as noted by Flugel in Anglia 21: 245 ff., the discussion over Chaucer's meeting with Petrarch, and the dispute as to the reality of Chaucer's hopeless love; see under Clerk's Tale, Section III G here, and in Appendix (b) to this Section.
A. The Legend
[Reprint of the Life of Chaucer by Leland in his Commentarii de Scriptoribus Britannicis, Oxford 1709, pp. 419-426.]
CAP. DV. De Gallofrido Chaucero.
GALLOFRIDUS Chaucerus, nobili loco natus, & summae spei juvenis, Isiacas scholas tam diligenter, quam qui maxime, celebravit: id quod ut faceret, academiae vicinitas quodammodo invitavit. Nam quibusdam argumentis adducor ut credam, Isiacam vel Berochensem provinciam illius natale solum fuisse. Hinc acutus dialecticus, hinc dulcis rhetor, hinc lepidus poeta, hinc