Figuring Subjectivity in Piers Plowman C and ‘The Parson’s Tale’ and ‘Retraction:’ Authorial Insertion and Identity Poetics
In Chaucer’s Parson’s Tale, Retraction, and L’s C.5, the authors engage in a homologue to confession by which they inscribe their identities in their texts and become themselves the subjects of poetic reflection. The “autobiographical” passage which opens passus 5 combines autobiographical and confessional modes to reintegrate the penitent subject – both “Will” and WL – into the body of the Church. The Retraction is similarly to be understood as Chaucer’s sincere questioning of his own “entente,” the key action required of the penitent in the confessional. His deployment of both clerical and literary discourses in the Retraction demonstrates that the subject cannot be separated from institutions.