Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales: The Position of Fragment VII

Salim E. AL-Ibia


Most manuscripts of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales have placed the fragment that begins with The Shipman’s Tale after Fragment VI. Thus, it is usually found as Fragment VII in most modern translations of Chaucer’s tales. Although it is the longest tale-cluster in Chaucer’s tales, the order of this fragment is still controversial. For instance, Henry Bradshaw insists that this fragment should be moved ahead and placed after Fragment II. On the other hand, most scholars believe that breaking the order of the tales as it exists in the Ellesmere a Manuscript, and as Bradshaw hopes, might ruin the thematic relationship among the tales in different fragments. This research investigates the position of Fragment VII in multiple manuscripts. It evaluates various critical perspectives on the issue and recommend moving fragment VII to be placed after Fragment II. I argue that some amendments to the order found in the Ellesmere a Manuscript and the ones that follow its order might reinforce the thematic relationship among the tales and does not ruin it.


Chaucer’s canterbury tales; Fragment VII; Tales grouping

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