ABSTRACT

The unfinished Squire’s Tale and Sir Thopas are often characterized as imperfect or parodic representations of the romance genre. However, far from being examples of artistic failure, their generic and stylistic incongruities suggest Chaucer was attempting a sweeping revision of tired generic clichés and paving the way for future innovators. His playful treatment of the genre disrupts the structural integrity of the tales and ultimately prevents either from finding resolution. Despite this, both have a huge amount of aesthetic value, and their presence within the larger Canterbury Tales framework shows that Chaucer was willing to forgo completion in service of generic renewal. By examining how the Squire’s Tale and Sir Thopas deviate from the norms of the romance genre, this article argues that Chaucer was trying to write romances in a different way, and it offers a new understanding of the composition and value of the Squire’s Tale.

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