Cover image for The Oxford companion to Chaucer
The Oxford companion to Chaucer
Gray, Douglas.
Publication Information:
Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, [2003]

Physical Description:
xxiii, 526 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations, maps ; 24 cm
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
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Item Holds
PR1924 .O94 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Non circulating

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With over 2,000 entries from an international team of scholars, this new Oxford Companion provides a wealth of clear, up-to-date assessments on all aspects of Chaucer. Entries, both short and long, from 'Aaron' to 'Zodiac', provide information on Chaucer's life and times, his works and thecharacteristics in them, his language and metre, his reading and the creative uses he made of it, and on his major moral and literary themes. Extensive reference is also made to the development of critical opinion about his works over the centuries. Complete with a chronology, a note to readers,illustrations, and extensive cross-referencing, this is a fascinating, practical guide to readers of Chaucer at every level.

Author Notes

Douglas Gray is J. R. R. Tolkien Professor of English Literature and Language Emeritus at the University of Oxford

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Like many of the volumes in the Oxford Companion series, this work is an invaluable guide--in this case, to the life, times, and work of Geoffrey Chaucer, the Middle English poet who gave us The Canterbury Tales 0 and Troilus and Criseyde.0 The stated goal of this work is to "help readers and students in the understandinzg" of the poet's works. It does so through more than 2,000 alphabetically listed entries on the life, family, friends, works, characters, and sources of Chaucer. Beyond this, there are some contextual entries dealing with other contemporaneous European writers, Chaucer's verse, and his prevalent themes and topics. The entry on The Wife of Bath's Prologue and Tale0 demonstrates the volume's utility for both general reader and specialist. It opens with an analysis of the Prologue0 ("a confessional monologue") and follows with an overview of both the Prologue0 and the Tale.0 For literary scholars, there are also some manuscript notes ("the first contribution in Fragment III"). For those interested in learning more, there is a cross-referenced entry from Fragments0 to the entry on The Canterbury Tales 0 that details the 10 extant fragments of the Ellesmere manuscript. The entry on the Ellesmere Manuscript0 tells us that this is "the most famous and most elegant" of the surviving manuscripts--of which there are relatively many, attesting to the popularity of the Tales.0 Each entry usually has a brief (and in the case of the works, selective) list of further reading. The volume begins with a list of "the most substantial topical entries" (for example, Clothes, London,0 Rhetoric0 ), 0 a chronology, and maps and ends with an extensive bibliography. For all students of Chaucer, this is a worthy addition to their libraries. Academic and large public libraries will want to have it. -- RBB Copyright 2004 Booklist

Library Journal Review

The J.R.R. Tolkien Professor of English Literature and Language Emeritus at Oxford, Gray has edited this excellent companion to Chaucer, which includes over 2000 entries written by international scholars. The alphabetically arranged entries impart information on almost all aspects of Chaucer, including his life, his works, his family and friends, his characters and themes, his language and versification, his sources, persons and places mentioned in his work, the use he made of his reading, his scientific knowledge (especially that of astronomy), and the prominent ideas in his work. Of note is the entry on Chaucer criticism, divided into two sections, the first covering criticism since his death up to the early 20th century and the second covering later criticism, from 1930 to the present. Interestingly, the first part compares critical views on the poet's works and traces the history of Chaucerian criticism down through the ages on both sides of the Atlantic. The second part deals not only with modern critical views, including those of New Criticism, Historical Criticism, dogmatic moralism, reflectionism, and feminism, but also with the aspects of Chaucer's works neglected in contemporary criticism. Quotations from Chaucer are in Middle English, and references to his works are from The Riverside Chaucer, edited by Larry D. Benson. Also containing a chronology, a guide to readers, and extensive cross and bibliographic references, this major work is helpful to Chaucer readership at all levels and can be called a complete encyclopedia of Chaucer. Essential for all academic and large public libraries.-Aparna Zambare, Central Michigan Univ. Libs., Mount Pleasant (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Gray, a noted Chaucer scholar at Oxford, offers more than 2,000 signed entries on various aspects of Chaucer and his works as well as their larger cultural and literary context. The book's closest counterpart is probably Rosalyn Rossignol's Chaucer A to Z: The Essential Reference to Life and Works (CH, Nov'99), but the Companion is more focused in scope, includes citations within individual entries, and has maps, illustrations from manuscripts, a list of references, and a chronology of Chaucer's life and works. Although upper-division undergraduates and graduate students may find it particularly useful, it will also appeal to general readers and researchers. ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. Academic and public libraries. J. Stevens Washington State University

Table of Contents

List of Illustrationsp. viii
Contributorsp. x
List of General Entriesp. xi
Reader's Guidep. xv
Abbreviationsp. xvii
Chronologyp. xx
Mapsp. xxiv
A-Z Entriesp. 1
Referencesp. 502