Richard Neuse here explores the relationship between two great medieval epics, Dante's Divine Comedy and Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. He argues that Dante's attraction for Chaucer lay not so much in the spiritual dimension of the Divine Comedy as in the human.
Borrowing Bertolt Brecht's phrase "epic theater," Neuse underscores the interest of both poets in presenting, as on a stage, flesh and blood characters in which readers would recognize the authors as well as themselves. As spiritual autobiography, both poems challenge the traditional medieval mode of allegory, with its tendency to separate body and soul, matter and spirit. Thus Neuse demonstrates that Chaucer and Dante embody a humanism not generally attributed to the fourteenth century.
This title is part of UC Press's Voices Revived program, which commemorates University of California Press’s mission to seek out and cultivate the brightest minds and give them voice, reach, and impact. Drawing on a backlist dating to 1893, Voices Revived makes high-quality, peer-reviewed scholarship accessible once again using print-on-demand technology. This title was originally published in 1991.