Unhap, Misadventure, Infortune

Chaucer’s Vocabulary of Mischance

in Critical Survey
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  • 1 University of Cambridge ehc31@cam.ac.uk
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Chaucer uses the full vocabulary for chance and mischance available to him in Middle English, and he deploys that wide vocabulary with a full awareness of its possibilities for subtle differentiations of meaning. This article is especially concerned with his use of privatives, negative prefixes, for these words, and the different senses they carry. In both positive and negative form, they recurrently work to inflect his larger concerns with Fortune (usually personified as an agent) and the mutability of the world.

Contributor Notes

Helen Cooper is Professor Emerita of Medieval and Renaissance English at the University of Cambridge. She is the author of The Structure of the Canterbury Tales (Duckworth, 1983) and Oxford Guides to Chaucer: The Canterbury Tales (Oxford University Press, 1989, 1996), as well as numerous books and articles on medieval and early modern literature.


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