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By Thomas A. Prendergast

First released in 2004. Routledge is an imprint of Taylor & Francis, an informa corporation.

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If Chaucer’s death led to conflicting emotions in Lydgate, the process of mourning was perhaps less complicated with Hoccleve. It is not that Hoccleve relinquished control over his Chaucerian inheritance. Like Lydgate, he made Chaucer appear and disappear from his work. 48 Perhaps for this reason, the tone of his invocation of Chaucer is somewhat different from Lydgate’s. 49 O, maister deere and fadir reverent! Mi maister Chaucer, flour of eloquence, Mirour of fructuous entendement, O, universal fadir in science!

In political terms, the exchange of one image of an absent father (Chaucer) for another (Henry IV) would seem to be relatively straightforward. Indeed, Paul Strohm’s treatment of the manifold ways that Hoccleve supports the Lancastrian cause in return for the Prince’s recognition, is only one of the later treatments of the complicated political subtext of the Regement. Strohm’s argument differs a bit from other arguments about the poem, however, in that it asserts a kind of equivalent genealogical structure between the sets of fathers and sons.

29 In this formulation, fifteenth-century poets (though early critics might not put it in precisely this way) felt inadequate because they compared their own verse with Chaucer’s and found it wanting. As a result they were, purportedly, unable to produce “great” poetry. No clearer sign of this inadequacy exists, according to these early critics, than the quality of laments about the loss of Chaucer and his poetic talent. Spearing has suggested the relevance of the Bloomian paradigm of the anxiety of influence in light of a fifteenth-century poetics of inadequacy.

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