The Lost World of the Nun’s Priest’s Tale

  • Jameson S. Workman
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)


If the Old Man’s tree, an “iren hoot,” and a crow’s “Cokkow! Cokkow! Cokkow!” are the symbolic meeting places for the diverse themes and antinomies of the previous poems, the Nun’s Priest’s Tale is the trial by fire for the entire vision. It’s here we witness the resurrection of every major philosophical dispute, every first-rate nightmare and crummy joke in the Chaucerian performance, all huddling together in one psychotic utopia and overcrowded Panglossian murder mystery. The goal is to understand the epistemological architectures that make Chaucer’s style possible. And his style, generally speaking, is to split his poems in half between a dadaesque community dinner-theater short run of Don Giovanni, with visible wires, cookie sheet thunder, coconut shell cavalry—all the pennywise spiritual ambitions and Pygmalionic death threat of “O, statua gentilissima” played on a donated pump organ—and then somehow ‘stick the landing’ on the slippery surface of what Takada called, a “simple and straightforward and even austere … ambition to affiliate himself with the great continental tradition of Neoplatonism.”1


Canterbury Tale Rhetorical Perspective Lost World Dream Debate General Prologue 
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© Jameson S. Workman 2015

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