Previous studies have shown the importance of Chaucer's reliance on classical literature as the source of his own art. In Telling Classical Tales, Lisa Kiser significantly expands this area of critical inquiry by her reading of Chaucer's Legend of Good Women—a relatively neglected poem that Kiser argues is of central importance in understanding Chaucer's concern with classical texts and his development as a poet.
Looking closely at the classical references in the Legend, Kiser treats the Prologue and the individual legends in detail. She discusses the classical origins of the two main characters, their relationship to other characters in medieval literature, and the underlying significance of their comic dialogue. Her analysis leads to the conclusion that Chaucer's main purpose in writing the Legend of Good Women was to describe and defend his own principles of narrative art.
The fullest and richest interpretation of Chaucer's Legend of Good Women available, this book will interest medievalists, classicists, and Chaucerians as well as students and scholars of Renaissance literature.
Lisa J. Kiser is Assistant Professor of English at The Ohio State University.