Arts and Humanities


This paper explains the medieval writing process known as palindromic structure, a face of anagogy that, as far as we can determine, has largely been ignored in literary criticism. It begins by examining the "little verses" of Augustine of Dacia that were a staple of schoolboy studies, and demonstrates how the verses were used to teach the creative process to students of Latin composition. Then, after introducing Mary Douglas's criteria for identifying the structure, it sets forth Chaucer's ''Pardoner's Tale" as a well-balanced palindrome, arguing for authorial intentionality by referencing a section of the "Parson's Tale." It offers John Dryden's observations about Chaucer's characters--which he has written in palindromic structure--to show that later British authors were aware of Chaucer's method, and concludes by giving evidence that Chaucer knew some Greek.


Original Citation:

Treanor, S. L. (2012). Palindromic Structure in the “Pardoner’s Tale.” Michigan Academician, 41(1), 53–67. doi: 10.7245/0026-2005-41.1.53. Publisher's Website: https://www.alma.edu/offices/michigan-academy/journal/