Burnable Book March 27

So far in the novel, we have learned a bit more about Chaucer’s character in A Burnable Book. Knowing what we know about his life, do you think this is an accurate picture of Chaucer? Do you think it falls short? Is it true? Explain.

4 thoughts on “Burnable Book March 27

  1. I do believe Holsinger has painted an accurate picture of Chaucer’s life, to a point. I found the scene in which Gower is talking to Philippa and later Chaucer to be interesting, as it takes care to bring up the couple’s tenuous marriage, saying that Philippa spends more time with her sister than her husband. Chaucer also brings up the Cecily Champagne accusation, blaming it for the reason why his wife is so distant with him. It is interesting that Holsinger includes this real-world incident that Chaucer was a part of and surely affected his personal relationships. However, there is still a lot left unsaid about Chaucer in A Burnable Book, as Chaucer seems to be a secondary character. There are small scenes where we are given more insight into him, such as when Gower stating to his son that all Chaucer needs for forgiveness is a well-crafted letter, but it is difficult to say whether these insights are truly accurate to Chaucer’s real life, given how far back in time it was.

  2. I think it is hard to say whether this picture of Chaucer is accurate or not. We know very little about Chaucer as an actual person. We know of his professions and role in society, but not very much about his personality. I think Holsinger paints an interesting picture of Chaucer. He is in the thick of the political world and very connected, yet he doesn’t spend much time with his wife, who also is well connected through her sister. Chaucer is in the thick of the conspiracy surrounding the book and Gower is even suspicious about Chaucer’s potential involvement in the death of the girl who stole the book. Chaucer is present in the novel but not the main character. We don’t see as much of Chaucer in the novel as other characters and yet he seems to work in the shadows throughout the story. This seems to align with some of the business he conducted as a spy, as well as his time in Italy. He is a mysterious character, who tries to keep his name out of the trouble.

  3. I think Holsinger does a good job of creating a character out of Chaucer based on what little we know about his actual personality. He uses professional and lawful documents in history, such as the Cecily Champagne case, and uses them to paint a picture of how Chaucer’s daily life could have looked like, such as how he regards him and his half-estranged wife. I don’t know that we can ever have a fully “accurate” depiction of Chaucer considering how little we know, but Holsinger is certainly faithful to the ideas of daily life in that time with regard to what we know about Chaucer from these documents.

    • I think its especially interesting how Mary Boyd points out, that Chaucer seems to be involved in the main plot of the story but isn’t the main character. This position in the novel seems to mirror what we know of his professional (and perhaps personal) life, as he worked very closely with powerful figures but wasn’t one himself.

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