Chaucer's The Book of the Duchess Full Text & Summary - Ancient History EncyclopediaThe Book of the Duchess was written by Geoffrey Chaucer sometime following the death in or of John of Gaunt's first wife Blanche, the Duchess of Lancaster, and features a journey into an imaginative dreamscape where Geoffrey encounters a black knight who has lost a wife named Blanche. It seems intended as a conciliatory, perhaps even a cathartic work, for a man who cannot properly get over losing the woman he loved. There are some areas of mismatch with reality: the dreamer has been unable to sleep for eight years before finding relief — it's unlikely that there was this length of time between John of Gaunt's loss and Chaucer's poem — and the black knight was an adolescent when he first encountered his lady, who seemed to have been quite a woman already, despite the real Blanche having been five years John of Gaunt's junior. But it's a dream after all, a sequence of allusions, and perhaps the real message lies in a series of hints that Chaucer drops, beginning with the discovery that there is a god of sleep. So he prays to the pagan Roman god Morpheus, the god of sleep, and also to the Roman goddess Juno, and his prayers are answered. My thoughts wander continually and I care nothing for the usual business of life. You will agree that this is not a good state to be in.
chaucer book of the duchess
The Book of the Duchess and Other Poems Summary
The Canterbury Tales , first published c. Among these is The Book of the Duchess , composed c. Blanche died in CE, probably from the plague, at the age of 26, and John of Gaunt mourned her for the rest of his life even though he would remarry. The Book of the Duchess is thought to have been composed on the second anniversary of her death. The poem is written in Middle English and belongs to the literary genre known as the high medieval dream vision in which a narrator opens by relating some problem he is experiencing and then falls asleep, has a dream which suggests or clearly reveals a solution to the problem, and wakes feeling at peace or resigned to his situation. This being so, the entire poem should be understood as having been written after the narrator woke from the dream and so his problem of unrequited love — which he describes as a "sickness" he has suffered from for eight years lines — continues even after the dream.
The Book of the Duchess is a poem of the dream-vision genre, presumably composed as an elegy for the death of Blanche, Duchess of Lancaster the wife of Geoffrey Chaucer 's patron, the royal Duke of Lancaster, John of Gaunt in or The poem was composed sometime in the few years after this event, and it is generally considered to be flattering to both the Duke and the Duchess. It is composed in octosyllabic rhyming couplets, and it runs lines. The poet tells of his insomnia. Finally, upon reading Ovid's Metamorphoses , he falls asleep. He tells the story of his dream, which begins with him awakening in a chamber covered with pictures of the Trojan War. The dreamer hears the sound of a horn signaling the start of a hunt, and he joins it.
Four dreadful plagues laid England waste in Chaucer's lifetime.
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THE BOOK OF THE DUCHESS
Most sources put the date of composition after 12 September when Blanche of Lancaster died and before , with many recent studies privileging a date as early as the end of Overwhelming if disputed evidence suggests that Chaucer wrote the poem to commemorate the death of Blanche of Lancaster , wife of John of Gaunt. The evidence includes handwritten notes from Elizabethan antiquary John Stowe indicating that the poem was written at John of Gaunt's request. There are repeated instances of the word "White", which is almost certainly a play on "Blanche". At the beginning of the poem, the sleepless poet lies in bed, reading a book. A collection of old stories, the book tells the story of Ceyx and Alcyone.