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Tellers, Tales, and Translation in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales$
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Warren Ginsberg

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780198748786

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198748786.001.0001

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Translation as Repetition

Translation as Repetition

The Miller and his Tale

(p.204) 7 Translation as Repetition
Tellers, Tales, and Translation in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales

Warren Ginsberg

Oxford University Press

After the Knight has finished his tale, the Host asks the Monk to “quite” him. The Miller, however, demands that he be the one to “quite” the Knight. The Miller repeats Harry’s verb and he translates it; instead of “to reward,” he substitutes another meaning of the word, ‘to contend with.” Because he believes neither man is better than he is, the Miller strives to level social and cultural differences by reducing the disseminal potential of translation to repetition. At the same time, because he feels he could outwrestle both pilgrims, he asserts his superiority by overwriting the sense of their words with his own. Chaucer, however, counters the Miller’s campaign to collapse distinctions by reinstalling them in the Miller’s portrait, prologue, and especially in his tale, which is presented as a queer translation of hermaphroditism in Alan of Lille’s homophobic Complaint of Nature.

Keywords:   Miller’s Tale, Alan of Lille, translation, repetition, queer, hermaphroditism

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