Journal article

The Biennial Chaucer Lecture: Chaucer's Silent Discourse

S Trigg

Studies in the Age of Chaucer | New Ceres | Published : 2017


This essay examines the trope of the "speaking face" in the poetry of Geoffrey Chaucer. This trope draws on the familiar idea that we can read the "text" of other people's faces, though that idea itself has a mixed and unwritten history. Chaucer is the first writer in English to make his characters speak silently through this facial discourse: his narrators and characters "read" the expression on another character's face and translate that expression into words, such as Criseyde's famous and silent rhetorical question, "What, may I nat stonden here?" Chaucer borrows this trope from the French of Guillaume de Machaut and the Italian of Giovanni Boccaccio, and develops a rhetorical repertoire ..

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University of Melbourne Researchers