In the Friar's Tale, the summoner extorts his victims with the promise of striking their names from his “feyned mandement.” Then, in the Summoner's Tale, the friar's companion planes away the names of their patrons from his wax tablets. In these two parallel acts, we get a glimpse into a deep-seated cultural anxiety over the opportunities and dangers posed by various forms of textual and documentary erasure. This article explores the materiality and literary significance of such erasures, which ultimately invite us to revise our view of these two antagonistic tales and read them not merely as a simple expression of quiting, but instead as an instance of mutual cancellation in which the erasure of a name simultaneously inscribes a person into the narrative.

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