Lists and Literary History: From Chaucer to Ernst Robert Curtius

by Eva von Contzen

Chaucer is a great maker of lists. Lists occur everywhere in his works: think of the shorter lists of trees in The Parliament of Fowls and The Knight’s Tale, the many enumerations in the dream visions, and not least the Canterbury Tales, its enumerative Prologue, The Parson’s Tale, The Monk’s Tale, and not least the many, many lists we encounter within the tales, such as the lists of knights assembling to fight for Arcite and Palamon, the description of Alisoun in The Miller’s Tale; the Wife of Bath’s list of men, and Dorigen’s lament. But Chaucer himself has also become part of a list: the list that is more commonly known as the ‘canon’, in other words, the catalogue of writers and works that form literary history. John Lydgate, in his Prologue to The Fall of Princes, pays tribute to his “maistir Chaucer” (Prol. 246; 275) and enlists him on the rolls of literary history. He does so by enumerating his works: Continue reading “Lists and Literary History: From Chaucer to Ernst Robert Curtius”

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑