Faux Semblants : Antifraternalism Reconsidered in Jean de Meun and Chaucer

Faux Semblants : Antifraternalism Reconsidered in Jean de Meun and Chaucer STUDIES IN PHILOLOGY Volume 101 Fall, 2004 Number 4 by G. Geltner AUSTUS was hardly pleased. Having sealed his pact with the Devil, and having waited long hours for his promised assistant and guide, he was left thoroughly unimpressed by the external appearance of Mephistopheles once the latter finally arrived: [Faustus:] I Charge thee to return and change thy shape; Thou art too ugly to attend me. Go, and return an old Franciscan friar; That holy shape becomes a devil best.1 Faustus's ingenious solution seems to invoke a celebrated tradition. From Rutebeuf to Rabelais, from Cecco Angiolieri to Boccaccio, from Chaucer to Marlowe, the apparent perseverance of antifraternal sentiment from medieval to early modern literature has helped perpetuate the notion of a Devil-serving friar as a popular, if disturbing, representation of medieval mendicants. Although the presence of mendicants, or friars, in fiction has won a certain amount of scholarly attention, so far the few attempts to deal comprehensively with the topic have yielded questionable generic statements which define such fiction as one form or another of ``antifraternal literature.'' This branding, how1 Doctor Faustus 1.3.25­28, in The Complete Plays of Christopher Marlowe, ed. Irving Ribner (New York: Odyssey Press, http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Studies in Philology University of North Carolina Press

Faux Semblants : Antifraternalism Reconsidered in Jean de Meun and Chaucer

Studies in Philology, Volume 101 (4)

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Publisher
University of North Carolina Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2004 by The University of North Carolina Press.
ISSN
1543-0383
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Abstract

STUDIES IN PHILOLOGY Volume 101 Fall, 2004 Number 4 by G. Geltner AUSTUS was hardly pleased. Having sealed his pact with the Devil, and having waited long hours for his promised assistant and guide, he was left thoroughly unimpressed by the external appearance of Mephistopheles once the latter finally arrived: [Faustus:] I Charge thee to return and change thy shape; Thou art too ugly to attend me. Go, and return an old Franciscan friar; That holy shape becomes a devil best.1 Faustus's ingenious solution seems to invoke a celebrated tradition. From Rutebeuf to Rabelais, from Cecco Angiolieri to Boccaccio, from Chaucer to Marlowe, the apparent perseverance of antifraternal sentiment from medieval to early modern literature has helped perpetuate the notion of a Devil-serving friar as a popular, if disturbing, representation of medieval mendicants. Although the presence of mendicants, or friars, in fiction has won a certain amount of scholarly attention, so far the few attempts to deal comprehensively with the topic have yielded questionable generic statements which define such fiction as one form or another of ``antifraternal literature.'' This branding, how1 Doctor Faustus 1.3.25­28, in The Complete Plays of Christopher Marlowe, ed. Irving Ribner (New York: Odyssey Press,

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Studies in PhilologyUniversity of North Carolina Press

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