歐美研究季刊第46卷第1期 - page 29

Petrarch and Chaucer on Fame
29
But we ne kepen have no fame.
Hide our werkes and our name
For Goddys love–for, certes, we
Han certeyn doon hyt for bounte
And for no maner other thinge,’
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
And seide they yeven nought a leke
For no fame, no for suche renoun–
For they for contemplacioun
And Goddes love hadde ywrought,
Ne of fame wolde they nought. (Chaucer, 1997: 1695-1699,
1708-1712)
Though Chaucer makes no explicit reference to the Christian deity,
it is reasonable to assume that here Chaucer highlights the
Christian belittlement of earthly distinctions. While the Christian
disapproval of worldly things is meant to characterize the fourth
group, whose members single-mindedly strive for divine grace, the
number of people in this group is amazingly small: “But, certeyn,
they were wonder fewe-” (Chaucer, 1997: 1691). By particularly
pointing out the small number of people in this group, Chaucer
seems to imply that those who can completely disregard earthly
reputation are a rarity.
Despite the salient influence of the Christian disparagement
of worldly reputation in Chaucer’s time, it would be impolitic to
conclude that Chaucer repudiates outright all possibilities of
becoming famous. As mentioned earlier, Chaucer’s prolonged
musing over the nature of fame throughout his writing career
betrays the extent to which the idea of fame occupied his mind. If
we draw on Petrarch’s distinction of the two different aspects of
literary immortality
the immortality of the poet’s own name and
the immortality of those the poet celebrates, Chaucer, at least in
the
House of Fame
, also considers a writer a potential chronicler of
human greatness.
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