Chaucer's poetry and the new Boethianism

Hunter, Brooke Marie
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My dissertation reexamines Chaucer’s debts to the Consolation by reconciling Boethius’s Neoplatonic distaste for the material world with Chaucer’s poetic celebrations of the variety and sensuality of human life. I revise the understanding of Chaucer’s poetry by recontextualizing it within a new Boethianism that stems from Chaucer’s interaction with the scholastic commentary on the Consolation by Nicholas Trevet. Although critics have long known that Chaucer’s Boece extensively borrows from, glosses, and cross references with Trevet’s commentary, very little attention has been given to what effect this had on Chaucer’s Boethian poetry. My dissertation argues that through Trevet’s immensely popular commentary, Chaucer received a predominantly Aristotelian-Thomist reading of the Consolation, one that reinvents Boethius’s Neoplatonic rejection of the sensual world as an apologetically materialist philosophy. The Aristotelian-Thomist influence of Trevet’s commentary is most visible in Chaucer’s treatment of the human interactions with the temporal world: in the functions of sense perception, the working of memory, and the desire to foresee the unknown future.