This article explores the relation between Chaucer's socioeconomic location as lay controller of customs and the dazzling metapoetics of the House of Fame. It emphasizes the social ambiguity of Chaucer's movement out of court to the customs house and hence what he would have to gain, in an intertwined socioeconomic and aesthetic sense, from the dissemination of this poem. It argues that the latter—in addition to its skeptical and comic engagement with poetic tradition—represents Chaucer's experimental attempt to shift the parameters of the literary field of late medieval English court poetry to better advantage someone in his then rather peculiar, liminal position.

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