Performance, memory, and oblivion in the Parson's tale

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

This article argues that the Parson's Tale is presented as a performative instrument for self-examination, in which the proper use of memory plays a crucial part in achieving contrition and confession, the first and second stages of penitential practice that ends with satisfaction. Using the Parson's Tale as a guide, the reader is urged to reread the contents of his memory and interiorize them so that the experience of the text becomes in itself a personal penitential performance, not just the acquisition of moral knowledge. The importance of memory in this respect is particularly highlighted in the Parson's Tale's expansion of its source with regard to passages that explain memory's functions in contrition and confession. The tale prompts the reader to scrutinize his memory, remember the nature and process of sins (properly forgetting at the same time what is superfluous), and know himself as the confessing subject.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)436-452
Number of pages17
JournalChaucer Review
Volume51
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Literature and Literary Theory

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