Chaucerian Parrhesia: World-building and truth-telling in The Canterbury Tales and 'Lak of Stedfastnesse'

Paul Megna

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

Abstract

This essay examines the role of parrhesia (i.e., free, frank, or fearless speech) in three Canterbury Tales - The Second Nun's Tale, The Tale of Melibee, and The Manciple's Tale - in which Chaucer explores how the desire to play the parrhesiastes and anxieties about parrhesia's dangerousness can serve as catalysts in the production of literary worlds. By way of conclusion, it argues that Chaucer's short poem 'Lak of Stedfastnesse' might archive a quasi-parrhesiastic utterance directed at the despotic King Richard II, and that a modern conception of Chaucer as a non-polemical ironist has prevented many critics from reading it as such.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)30-43
Number of pages14
JournalPostmedieval
Volume9
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2018

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