Chaucerotics pp 141-182 | Cite as

“And in he throng”: The Anti-Chivalric Chauceroticism of The Merchant’s Tale

  • Geoffrey W. Gust
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)


In this chapter, Gust examines The Merchant’s Tale, another fabliau from The Canterbury Tales that raises difficult questions about the meaning and significance of Chaucerotics. By detailing the lewd sexual escapades of the grizzled knight January and his young bride May, Chaucer offers a shocking “anti-chivalric” story that forces the reader to consider their own complicity in the narrative’s eroticized voyeurism. With its graphic sexuality and resentful tone, The Merchant's Tale offers another boundary-pushing example of Chaucerotics that includes multiple sex scenes, love affairs that are both sanctioned and illicit, and perhaps the most explicit representation of sexual penetration in the entire Middle English literary corpus. These extraordinary features render this particular tale as being especially reminiscent of the generic requirements of classical literary pornography.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Geoffrey W. Gust
    • 1
  1. 1.School of General StudiesStockton UniversityGallowayUSA

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