The Delamere Chaucer

Takamiya MS 32: Canterbury tales

Takamiya MS 32. Geoffrey Chaucer, Canterbury Tales and other texts in Middle English (“Delamere Chaucer”). England, 1425-1450.

Takamiya 32, known today as the Delamere Chaucer, presents the works of Geoffrey Chaucer and John Gower alongside several other notable Middle English poems.

The manuscript unites what are perhaps the two authors’ most famous works: Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales and Gower’s Confessio Amantis, both collections of tales within a framing story. On the left folio, the blue initial "N," decorated with delicate red penwork, marks the beginning Chaucer’s “Retraction” and the end of the Tales. In the “Retraction,” Chaucer thanks God for his devotional works and begs pardon for his “writings of worldly vanities,” citing some of the talesthemselves as examples! On the right folio, the initial "T," decorated with ornamental sprays, indicates the beginning of Gower’s tale of Nebuchadnezzar in the Confessio Amantis.

These well-known works are joined by the popular romance Partenope of Blois and the didactic poem The Gast of Gy, among others. In Partenope of Blois, a young knight encounters many marvels, including a feast served by invisible hands. In The Gast of Gy, a widow is visited by the spirit of her recently deceased husband, who has returned to offer consolation and spiritual counsel. Taken together, the texts of Takamiya MS 32 demonstrate the wide variety of works that could coexist within a single manuscript.

The Delamere Chaucer