History and literature in the Nun’s Priest’s Tale: the return of the repressed
Keywords:history, literature, noise, peasants’ revolt, repression
Geoffrey Chaucer’s only direct reference to the consequential Peasants’ Revolt of 1381 is housed in the Nun’s Priest’s Tale as a passing, yet important, allusion to the daunting figure of Jack Straw and his men. The beast-fable’s extratemporal chronotope is indeed traversed by a brief but significantly intrusive fragment of repressed historicity. The paper argues that the discarded historical event of the revolt against the establishment surfaces in the text, not to record the cracks and crevices in the dwindling feudal system, but to participate in the bestialization and grotesquing of the 1381 insurgents and the trivialization of their rising and their cause.
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