As residents of fourteenth-century London, Geoffrey Chaucer, John Gower, and Thomas Hoccleve each day encountered aspects of commerce such as buying, selling, and worrying about being cheated. Many of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales address how pervasive the market had become in personal relationships. Gower's writings include praises of the concept of trade and worries that widespread fraud has harmed it. Hoccleve's poetry examines the difficulty of living in London on a slender salary while at the same time being subject to all the temptations a rich market can provide. Each writer finds that principal tensions in London focused on commerce - how it worked, who controlled it, how it was organized, and who was excluded from it. Reading literary texts through the lens of archival documents and the sociological theories of Pierre Bourdieu, this book demonstrates how the practices of buying and selling in medieval London shaped the writings of Chaucer, Gower, and Hoccleve. Craig Bertolet constructs a framework that reads specific Canterbury tales and pilgrims associated with trade alongside Gower's Mirour de L'Omme and Confessio Amantis, and Hoccleve's Male Regle and Regiment of Princes. Together, these texts demonstrate how the inherent instability commerce produces also produces narratives about that commerce.
Craig E. Bertolet is an Associate Professor of English at Auburn University, USA.
'While a number of studies have looked at literary representations of trade in recent years, Craig Bertolet here offers a fresh approach: his focus is primarily literary in its address to Chaucer, Gower, and Hoccleve, and his use of the practice and experience of trade as his lens allows him to bring a new focus to the intersection of economy and literature. Bertolet's book combines a compelling (and occasionally eclectic) theoretical paradigm with a meticulous attention to detail and a wise critical eye.' Roger A. Ladd, University of North Carolina at Pembroke, USA 'Bertolet's work is vety useful in bringing together isolated narratives and practices to shed light on commerce as a whole.' Comitatus 'Bertolet creates a persuasive argument for the fourteenth century as a turning-point in the development of London's commercial culture, which created social and cultural tensions reflected in the literature of the period. His book offers an innovative re-assessment of three of the most important writers of late medieval England, making skilful use of documentary material in order to situate their work firmly within its socio-economic context.' Sehepunkte