Originally published in 1994. This surveys the origin and development of one of Chaucer’s most problematic characters, Griselda, who through the centuries has challenged the horizon of expectations of many an audience. Starting with Boccaccio’s Decameron and suggesting in turn its precursors in whole or in part, Bronfman goes on to summarize the reigning opinions of Chaucer’s heroine and her situation.
The advance of feminist perspectives on medieval literature had the result that for many the Clerk’s Tale has political overtones where the Walter-Griselda marriage may serve as a metaphor for, among other things, the state or right order. This study looks at the story from a long view, from its sources to the flood of critical interpretations - the creative reception of Chaucer’s story, outlining the many rewritings of Griselda from Chaucer to the twentieth century. A special chapter considers the Griselda story as represented in illustrations as well.
Table of Contents
General Editors’ Foreword. Preface. Introduction 1. The Story Before Chaucer 2. The Marriage Group and the Allegorical Griselda 3. The Clerk’s Tale as Religious Tale and Political Commentary 4. Chaucer’s Tale Rewritten 5. Griselda Illustrated. Conclusion. Appendix: A Most Pleasant Ballad of Patient Grissell