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Chaucer the Beginner: Imagining Chaucer's Creative Process in Creating "Book of the Duchess"


Edwards, Matthew Gene (2017) Chaucer the Beginner: Imagining Chaucer's Creative Process in Creating "Book of the Duchess". Senior thesis (Major), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/Z9G15XX2.


Chaucer's first major poem, Book of the Duchess, represents a devoted reader's best attempt at creating a meaningful and authoritative text of their own. After extensive reading, Chaucer's first attempt to write a text draws significant inspiration from past texts such as Ovid's Metamorphoses and the medieval French dream vision Romance of the Rose. It is aspects of texts such as these which Chaucer mimics in order to imbue his own text with meaning and authority of its own. Chaucer's process of composing this first authoritative text will be discussed at length below, with a strong emphasis on the function of voice and imitation, and how inspiration, a simultaneous source of ideas and motivation, drives Chaucer's entire creative process. Chaucer utilizes and manipulates a great many voices in Book of the Duchess, many of which obviously don't belong to Chaucer but rather to authors of the past. It is these multiple already-authoritative voices, in addition to a single nameless voice narrating the story, that ultimately constitute Chaucer's own, original voice.

Item Type:Thesis (Senior thesis (Major))
Subject Keywords:Chaucer; Book of the Duchess; Creativity; Writing; Authorship; Medieval; Poetry
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Humanities and Social Sciences
Major Option:English
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Jahner, Jennifer A.
Thesis Committee:
  • None, None
Defense Date:9 June 2017
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:06202017-210004773
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:10340
Deposited By: Matthew Edwards
Deposited On:21 Jun 2017 23:25
Last Modified:04 Oct 2019 00:17

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