Chaucerian Realism

Series: Chaucer Studies (v. 20)
What is the difference between saying something and meaning it, and saying something and not meaning it? A modern question. A Chaucerian question. Through his analysis of intentionality and the metaphysics of speech, Robert Myles shows why Chaucer's appreciation of the functioning of language and thought 'could' be 'modern'. Through his analysis of Chaucer's works, particularly the 'Friar's Tale', Myles demonstrates that Chaucer's understanding of these 'is' modern and the myth of the medieval mind as other than our own is exploded. The medieval belief in intentionality, the object-directedness of all beings, allowed appreciation of a fact: thought and language 'are' intentional. On a practical level Chaucer deliberately exploits three-level semantics (signs are simultaneously mind-drected and world-directed) to create 'realistic' fiction in the modern literary sense of the term. Myles also argues that Chaucer is a realist in the philosophical sense, a view which goes counter to the current of much recent criticism. This book will not only be a challenging addition to medieval and Chaucerian studies, but has interesting implications for the historical study of intentionality, semiotics and epistemology. DR ROBERT MYLES is senior lecturer at the English and French Language Centre, McGill University, and a research fellow at the Department of English, McGill University, Montreal, Canada.