Yearbook of Langland Studies
Chaucer and Langland have generally been read independently of one another, in large part due to the profound formal differences of rhyme, metre, and lexical features within their poetry. However, a broader definition of form, that sees texts receiving their shape from an animating concept at their core, affords richer purchase on the potential convergences between the two poets. I take as my paradigmatic example of this phenomenon Chaucer’s and Langland’s mutual choice to couch their rare topical references in retellings of well-known animal fables (Langland’s Rodent Parliament and Chaucer’s Nun’s Priest’s Tale). Animal fables, I argue, are governed by a specific formal logic that allows both poets to draw attention to structural power imbalances in contemporary English society without entirely upending them.
Strakhov, Elizaveta, "Political Animals: Form and the Animal Fable in Langland’s Rodent Parliament and Chaucer’s Nun’s Priest’s Tale" (2018). English Faculty Research and Publications. 540.
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