While looking at the 1845 issue of Charles Knight’s Penny Magazine, two things in the coverage of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales have left me puzzled.
In the introduction to the article on Chaucer and The Canterbury Tales, the unknown, unattributed, author/editor states: “In Chaucer’s time the individual sounds of both vowels in diphthongs appear to have been commonly preserved in speech, a custom still lingering in the north of England; and in writing such words therefore as creature, truly, and absolution, they are marked creàture, truèly, and absolutìon, and must be pronounced accordingly, just as in Leeds to this day bread is continually heard as breàd, and dream as dreàm.”
Is it still the perceived wisdom that diphthongs were/could be pronounced as individual vowels so creature and truly are pronounced as three syllable words in ME? And if it is, does that mean that Troilus should also be pronounced as a three syllable word?
Any suggestions as to who the editor/translator/modernizer of this text would be? Would Charles Knight have been the one who gets the credit? How likely is it that Charles Knight was also the author editor of this particular article? Was he also the writer/editor of each piece in his magazine or was he the general editor only?
In this edition/translation/modernization/retelling, the passages in verse seem to me to be taken from Tyrwhitt with “modern” 1845 spelling. And while both the 1845 Penny Magazine text and the 1845 John Saunders’ Canterbury Tales from Chaucer text are both a combination of prose and verse passages, there are considerable differences even though both were published by Charles Knight in 1845 and contains the same illustrations, although in slightly different formats. The Penny Magazine text, both verse and prose, also differs from Charles Cowden Clarke’s Riches of Chaucer and his 1833 prose edition, Tales of Chaucer. Did Charles Knight, if it was Charles Knight, edit Saunders’ text for the readership of his magazine? Is there another prose translation I have missed that might fit the bill? It would be nice if someone knows the definitive answer, has some educated guesses, or even some suggestions as to some avenues or areas for me to explore.
Here is the beginning of The Knight’s Tale as it appears in the February 22, 1845 issue of Penny Magazine:
Whilom,* as olde stories tellen us,
There was a duke that heighte† Theseus;
Of Athens he was lord and governor,
And in his time such as conqueror
That greater was there none under the sun.
Full many a riche country had he won.
What with his wisdom, and his chivalry,
He conquer’d all the regne of Feminie,‡
That whilom was yclepèd§ Scythia.
And wedded the fresh queen Hypolita;
And brought her home with him to his country
With muchel glory and great solemnity,
And eke her younge sister, Emily.
The tale then continues in prose:
“And if it were not too long, I would have told you fully the manner of this conquest, and of the great battle fought betwixt the Athenians and the Amazons, and how Hypolita had been besieged; also of the feasts that took place at her wedding, and of the temple raised in her honour, on her coming to the home of her conqueror and husband. But I must forbear, and so will begin again where I left off. When Theseus was almost come to Athens,”
‡The kingdom, or queendom as it should rather be called, of the females, or Amazons