Chaucer's Ovidian Arts of Love

Michael A. Calabrese

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"Remarkably readable, often witty. . . . This book breaks new and interesting ground by using the life of Ovid as a 'mirror' in which Chaucer saw and perhaps shaped himself. It will have a wide audience of both Chaucerians and classicists."--Julian Wasserman, Loyola University in New Orleans

"Thoughtfully and carefully demonstrates how neo-Ovidianism affects Chaucer's poetic outlook."--Liam Purdon, Doane College

More than any other poet in Chaucer's library, Ovid was concerned with the game of love. Chaucer learned his sexual poetics from Ovid, and his fascination with Ovidian love strategies is prominent in his own writing. This book is the fullest study of Ovid and Chaucer available and the only one to focus on love, desire, and the gender-power struggles that Chaucer explores through Ovid.
Michael Calabrese begins by recounting medieval biographical data on Ovid, indicating the breadth of Ovid's influence in the Middle Ages and the depth of Chaucer's knowledge of the Roman poet's life and work. He then examines two of Chaucer's most enduring and important works--Troilus and The Wife of Bath's Prologue and Tale--in light of Ovid's turbulent corpus, maintaining that both poems ask the same Ovidian question: What can language and game do for lovers?
Calabrese concludes by examining Chaucer's views of himself as a writer and of the complex relations between writer, text, and audience. "Chaucer, like Ovid, saw himself as vulnerable to the misunderstanding and woe that can befall a maker of fictions," he writes. "Like Ovid, Chaucer explores both the delights and also the dangers of being a 'servant of the servants of love.'. . . Now he must consider the personal, spiritual implications of being a verbal artist and love poet."

Michael A. Calabrese is assistant professor of English at California State University, Los Angeles. His works on Chaucer have appeared in Chaucer Review, Studies in Philology, and other journals.

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Florida Archaeological Council Stewards of Heritage Preservation Award - 2003

"This study directs Chaucerians toward a new and important appreciation of Ovid's amatory and exile poetry and it thereby outlines a distinct Chaucerian/Ovidian intertextuality."
--Studies in the Age of Chaucer

"Calabrese's book shows that Ovid remains a rich and provocative source for understanding what Chaucer was about as well as for identifying what he borrowed from his favorite classical auctor."

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