By Laura Kendrick
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Extra resources for Chaucerian Play: Comedy and Control in The Canterbury Tales
Augustine and other Christian authorities would have taken such erring vision as a sign of the reader's sinful, unregenerate state, of the Old Man. The Page 24 good Christian should be able to pass from the obscenity to the morality, from the carnal perception to the intellectual understanding, from the flesh to the spiritual sentence. The trial of Christian interpretation requires this progressive self-censorship, which begins with an admission of the "glimpsing" imperfection of sensory perception and a refusal to believe what is literally before one's eyes.
He does these things, but there is another side to Chaucer that such criticism deliberately blinks out. As Absalom found out in the "Miller's Tale," the person who blinks at the wrong moment may live to regret it with crystal-clear hindsight. Only very gradually have we become willing to acknowledge that Chaucer might play with language upon occasion, that he might take delight in the formal aspects of the tale, in "literature for its own sake," as a game of signification with no moral application, with no higher purpose than solas.
Only very gradually have we become willing to acknowledge that Chaucer might play with language upon occasion, that he might take delight in the formal aspects of the tale, in "literature for its own sake," as a game of signification with no moral application, with no higher purpose than solas. . " 7 In the explanatory notes accompanying his 1957 edition of Chaucer's works, F. N. 8 The many Chaucerian puns discovered in the past two decades seem to have created uneasiness in the minds of some scholars, who would try to convince us, rather as May persuaded old January, that our sight is ''glimpsing," that we misconceive and misjudge.