"Reading from within": Nicholas of Lyra, the sensus iteralis, and the structural logic of "The Canterbury Tales".

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Title: "Reading from within": Nicholas of Lyra, the sensus iteralis, and the structural logic of "The Canterbury Tales".
Authors: Wauhkonen, Rhonda L.
Date: 1994
Abstract: Like certain of his more reactionary religious contemporaries (most notably, Nicholas of Lyra, O.F.M., and John Wyclif), Chaucer concerns himself with critically reflexive literature. Through his various narrative and exegetical efforts, he produces--in The Canterbury Tales especially--what amounts to "Christian midrashim" or a literary tarqum as he, like Nicholas and Wyclif before him, directly addresses matters of textual and referential authority, of relational significances, and of the text's apparently intended personal effects. Reflecting the logic and concerns of the central Text of the age and apparently formulating their shared concept of the literal, of its signification, and of its function from Hebraic rather than Latin referential categories, each of these writers after his fashion and field calls for a return to ethical and social praxis based upon a responsible interpretation of the Divine Word according to its inherent logic and meaning. Being concerned to re-establish the pertinence of auctorite for the individual and the age, they thus present "right reading" as an intellectual endeavour under moral imperative. Involving both author and reader in the text, they clarify the sensus literalis (the essential significance of a text) as being not only "what the words signify" (Augustine), but what the words were intended to signify by their Author--as this is supported by the body of received ecriture and as it is accessible to those who approach the text in spiritual and moral readiness, prepared to engage actively the material (and its Author) by activating it in their own immediate experience. My use of such terms as midrashim and tarqum from the Jewish tradition to describe Chaucer's unique contribution to Fourteenth century literature is quite intentional, for it foregrounds the seminal--and Semitic--source, semiotic, and structural logic that underlies the particular theory of the sensus literalis which Nicholas develops from a marriage of rabbinical and patristic sources, which Wyclif gives a distinctively English expression and application, and which Chaucer seems to adapt to poetic forms. My thesis, attempting to deal in a fuller sense with referential meaning generally and with the sensus literalis specifically, explores the ways in which Nicholas, Wyclif, and, after them, Chaucer approach the deeper significance of the literal. (Abstract shortened by UMI.)
URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10393/9552
CollectionTh├Ęses, 1910 - 2005 // Theses, 1910 - 2005
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