Chaucer,Boccaccio,and the debate of love Essay example

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N.S. Thompson, Chaucer, Boccaccio, and the Debate of Love: A Comparative Study of The Decameron and The Canterbury Tales. Oxford: Clarendon, 1996; 354pp.;

Nigel Thompson's book resists alignment with current concerns in late-medieval studies: he has little or nothing to say about manuscripts and their dissemination; about the audiences, reception, and imitation of the works he treats; about gender and its representation; about contemporary social and political developments and how these works reflect and even affect them; or about nationalism and internationalism in both late-medieval writers and the twentieth-century study of their work. Instead, Thompson focuses his comparison on the claims for the purpose and value of their work that
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Chapter Three examines the debates about the function of literature - utile vs diletto, sentence vs solas - that appear in each text, to suggest that fiction need not be overtly didactic in order to be useful. After briefly treating how each text frames those terms - Boccaccio in his Proemio, Chaucer in the variety of views voiced by his pilgrims - Thompson focuses on Day VI as an extended treatment of the power of words, and Fragment VII (following Gaylord in labelling it the 'Literature Group') as a debate focusing on literature and its function. Chapter Four argues that both authors claim fiction has 'autonomy,' that is, that it can 'create a moral space' precisely by failing to insist on overt morals. Both authors thus divest themselves of interpretive authority in favour of investing it in their readers. In pursuit of this point Thompson returns in much greater detail to what the narrators (expecially Boccaccio) have to say about their aims: he discusses in great detail Boccaccio's Proemium, the Author's Defense in the introduction to Day IV, and the Author's Conclusion.
Chapters Five, Six, and Seven examine and compare the tales in the Decameron and Canterbury Tales that are generally thought of as

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