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From Text to Man: Re-Creating Chaucer in Sixteenth-Century Print Editions

From Text to Man: Re-Creating Chaucer in Sixteenth-Century Print Editions

Bly, Siobhain

Comitatus Vol.30 (1999)

Introduction

According to Seth Lerer, the moment when Chaucer can no longer “share in the remembrances of cult or circle[, or] . . . serve as a master to a reverent class of pupils” is the moment when reading Chaucer “necessitates recovering him.”  In other words, when Chaucer no longer exists as a person in an individual’s memory, or no longer can be constructed as such, he must be re-created, represented in a new context so
as to speak to those who are removed from him by the passage of time.  Such re-creation becomes necessary, according to Lerer, from the last quarter of the fifteenth century onwards.  Among the early efforts at such renewed representations of Chaucer are sixteenth-century print editions of Chaucer’s works, books nowadays often excoriated for their editors’ methods of recovering and re-creating Chaucer.

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