Chaucer's Gardens and the Language of ConventioneBook - 1997
Chaucer's Gardens and the Language of Convention examines the extensive literary and cultural sources for Chaucer's gardens, from some of his earliest dream- poems through Troilus and Criseyde and several of The Canterbury Tales. Not only do literary conventions come under scrutiny in the play between narrative context and garden topos, Howes argues, but social conventions, such as marriage and courtship, submit to Chaucer's critical gaze through his narrated garden scenes.
Combining new research on actual medieval gardens with source study, dose textual analysis, and an investigation into the metaphorical significance of Chaucer's gardens, Howes opens the way to new understanding of Chaucer's outdoor spaces and what they mean. Many scenes previously thought to be set in the open forest or wilderness may instead be in large pleasure gardens and parks, a change in our understanding that has significant repercussions for interpretation of key passages.
In addition, rather than focusing on a single garden topos such as the classical locus amoenus or the Christian earthly paradise, Howes considers the confluence of several strands of literary gardens Chaucer knew and thus strives to recapture for the modem reader the array of associations available to Chaucer's early audiences.