Blind Beasts: Chaucer's Animal World

Beryl Rowland

Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press, 1971

"Despite the modern appeal of his writings, we must not forget that Chaucer was a medieval poet working in the Christian symbolic tradition which regared animals not as zoological specimens but as illustrations of human traits. Even the early natural historians had assumed that animals were inspired by human motives and were of significance mainly because of the resemblance to Man, and with the Christian exegetists the whole of the natural world became a vast cryptogram whereby Man might discover God's truths. Job's words, 'Ask the beast it will teach thee, and the birds of heaven and they will tell you', furnished grounds for regarding the entire animal kingdom as stereotypes for moral instruction. ... Thus, whether he used the animal as a comparison or as part of an actual scene, Chaucer's purpose was to illuminate not the world of Nature but that of Man, and he usually employed simple ideas about animals which had already become part of popular tradition. ... This detailed study of Chaucer's use of animals adds yet another dimension to the poet's achievement. By examining the animal conventions which were available in literature, art, and popular lore, and by assessing his animal references in context in the light of such knowledge, Professor Rowland shows how significantly Chaucer's allusions contributed to the striking vitality of his poetry." publisher

198 p., illustrations, bibliography, index.

Language: English

ISBN: 0-87338-095-9; LCCN: 77104839


Last update December 6, 2021