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Chaucer's Prioress, the Jews, and the Muslims

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This paper explores some implications of the "Asia" setting of Chaucer's Prioress's Tale. Its method is literal and historicist. Its argument is that the tale is meant to present real, not figurative, Jews; that Chaucer had opportunity to meet and know about Jews outside of England (which had expelled its Jews in 1290); that "Asia" in Chaucer's day was under Islamic control and Europe was threatened by Islamic invasion; that Jews were often viewed as allied with, or even interchangeable with, Muslims. The paper considers some recent scholarship on the tale and ends with interpretive options that follow from a literal historicist reading.

Affiliations: 1: Simon Fraser University


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