Book Chapter

Opening Th e Canterbury Tales: Form and Formalism in the General Prologue

S Trigg

Chaucer and the Subversion of Form | Cambridge University Press | Published : 2018


t is impossible to capture a pristine, purely “formal” reading of the General Prologue to the Canterbury Tales. This text is heavily mediated by scribal and editorial framing, from the earliest manuscripts and printed texts and the forms of their incipits through to the design elements of the modern edition. The essay considers an influential attempt by John Speirs to capture the “greatness” of the Prologue through an ahistorical comparison with T. S. Eliot’s The Wasteland, and then turns to consider the complex editorial and critical inheritance that sits behind the ordinatio of the opening page of The Canterbury Tales in the standard Riverside edition. It shows that the phrase “General Pro..

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University of Melbourne Researchers