By J. Allan Mitchell
Why do medieval writers mostly utilize exemplary rhetoric? How does it paintings, and what are its moral and poetical values? And if Chaucer and Gower has to be visible as vigorously subverting it, then why do they persist in utilizing it? Borrowing from contemporary advancements in moral feedback and idea, this e-book addresses such questions by way of reconstructing a past due medieval motive for the ethics of exemplary narrative. the writer argues that Chaucer's Canterbury stories and Gower's Confessio Amantis attest to the energy of a story - instead of strictly normative - ethics that has roots in premodern traditions of useful cause and rhetoric. Chaucer and Gower are proven to be inheritors and respecters of an early and unforeseen kind of moral pragmatism - which has profound implications for the orthodox heritage of ethics within the West.
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Extra resources for Ethics and Exemplary Narrative in Chaucer and Gower (Chaucer Studies)
48 Translated in Appendix V of Kemmler, “Exempla” in Context, pp. 224–5. 49 The term is G. R. Owst’s, in Preaching in Medieval England: An Introduction to Sermon Manuscripts of the Period c. 1350–1450 (New York, 1965), p. 299. qxd 3/3/04 32 10:13 AM Page 32 Ethics and Exemplary Narrative in Chaucer and Gower ease of use as a reference tool. Some contained moralized stories, others unmoralized. For instance, the Alphabetum narrationum consists of exempla arranged by topics in alphabetical order so that the preacher may easily find a suitable specimen, while the Speculum Exemplorum offers moralized stories but is not arranged alphabetically.
22 “Aristotle’s Example: The Rhetorical Induction,” The Quarterly Journal of Speech 66 (1980), p. 188. 19, 1357b. 2, 1104a3–7. Jonsen and Toulmin, The Abuse of Casuistry, p. 73, note that the Rhetoric includes “a digest of books I–IV of the Nicomachean Ethics,” so that the two disciplines literally converge in Aristotle. 7–8, 1394a. qxd 3/3/04 28 10:13 AM Page 28 Ethics and Exemplary Narrative in Chaucer and Gower ones. ”29 The antique treatises on rhetoric follow Aristotle in their assessment of the example and of its connections with moral deliberation.
Book 7 of Gower’s Confessio Amantis is one such adaptation of Aristotelian ethical and political doctrine for the scholar-statesman, and I will turn to Trevisa’s translation of Giles of Rome below. , The Cambridge History of Later Medieval Philosophy (Cambridge, 1982), especially pp. 61–77, 657–72, and see the comments in William Robins, “Romance, Exemplum, and the Subject of the Confessio Amantis,” SAC 19 (1997), pp. 166–7 nn 17 and 22. 18 De memoria as translated in John H. Randall, Aristotle (New York, 1960), p.