Chaucer and the Norse and Celtic Worlds
- Publish Date: 2005-03-28
- Binding: Hardcover
- Author: Rory McTurk
Through an examination of Old Norse and Celtic parallels to certain works of Chaucer, McTurk here identifies hitherto unrecognized sources for these works in early Irish tradition. He revives the idea that Chaucer visited Ireland between 1361 and 1366, placing new emphasis on the date of the enactment of the Statute of Kilkenny. Examining Chaucers House of Fame, McTurk uncovers parallels involving eagles, perilous entrances, and scatological jokes about poetry in the Topographia Hibernie by Gerald of Wales, Snorri Sturlusons Edda, and the Old Irish sagas Fled Bricrend and Togail Bruidne Da Derga. He compares The Canterbury Tales, with its use of the motif of a journey as a framework for a tale-collection, with both Snorris Edda and the Middle Irish saga Acallam na Senrach. McTurk presents a compelling argument that these works represent Irish traditions which influenced Chaucers writing. In this study, McTurk also argues that the thirteenth-century Icelandic Laxdla Saga and Chaucers Wife of Baths Prologue and Tale each descend from an Irish version of the Loathly Lady story. Further, he surmises that Chaucers five-stress line may derive from the tradition of Irish song known as amhrn, which, there is reason to suppose, existed in Ireland well before Chaucers time.