Chaucerotics pp 183-213 | Cite as

“And of his owene thought he wax al reed”: Chaucerotics and the Poetics of Prostitution in The Shipman’s Tale

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


Chapter  6 focuses on the Chauceroticism in The Shipman’s Tale, an audacious story of lies, deceit, and adultery. Due to its persistent linguistic innuendo, the tale offers an especially keen test case for Chaucer’s use of the “cloak of language” in his bawdy verse. It also presents the “poetics of prostitution,” an economically charged erotics that is appropriate for a text that commodifies sex literally and figuratively. Gust shows that the tale is fundamentally different than Chaucer’s previous fabliaux, as it presents salacious games wherein everybody wins in the end, and no one gets hurt in the process. In this tale, the poet refuses to condemn the sexual misdeeds at hand and, instead, invites the reader to enjoy the pleasures of the characters’ illicit sexual transactions.

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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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