Patch, Howard Rollin. On Rereading Chaucer (1948).

June 13, 2008

As for the Lawyer, like all the rest he is the best of his kind, no one can catch him amiss, he makes a great show of being busy but we know little about what goes on in his mind.”

On Rereading Chaucer is one of those scholarly volumes that is written in such a tone that you can imagine a jolly, frosty haired, pipe smoking professor having written it as opposed to a prof who is focused on showing off his brain power. This collection of essays all revolve around Chaucer’s use of humor throughout his body of work (that means even the non Canterbury Tales stuff . . . yes there is writing beyond the Canterbury Tales).

Aside from the fleeting reference’s to the Man of Law’s tale and the fact that Chaucer may have studied law at Inner Temple, there is little law in this book. One essay, however, stands out as having some legal content: “Chaucer and the Common People.” In this chapter, Patch discusses whether Chaucer stood out as a voice for the Common People whom he often depicted, and whether Chaucer used his position at court to voice complaints and request better governance. Patch concludes that though Chaucer’s opportunities for access to court for such matters would be limited, he used his poetry to depict the common person in a sympathetic manner. Its and interesting chapter that serves to delve into Chaucer’s thoughts on governance.