Thomas Hoccleve Criticism - Essay

Jerome Mitchell (essay date 1967)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Mitchell, Jerome. “The Autobiographical Element in Hoccleve.” Modern Language Quarterly 28, no. 3 (1967): 269-84.

[In the essay that follows, Mitchell attempts to distinguish convention from fact in the self-referential passages of Hoccleve's works. While Mitchell suggests that elements such as Hoccleve's extreme poverty and his bout with mental illness may be fictional or exaggerated, he contends that they are convincing and sincere. Also, Hoccleve's detail, loose organization, and conversational style suggest a greater degree of self-revelation than was typical in medieval English poetry.]

Many scholars have felt that the autobiographical element is the...

(The entire section is 6091 words.)

John V. Fleming (essay date 1971)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Fleming, John V. “Hoccleve's Letter of Cupid and the ‘Quarrel’ over the Roman de la Rose.Medium Aevum 40, no. 1 (1971): 21-40.

[In this essay, Fleming examines the “Letter of Cupid,” Hoccleve's translation of Christine de Pisan's L'Epistre au Dieu d'Amours. Instead of seeing the work as a critique of de Pisan's defense of women, Fleming proposes that the “Letter of Cupid” obliquely attacks de Pisan's criticisms of the Roman de la Rose.]

It is not in the spirit of launching a Hoccleve ‘revival’ that I would invite a re-examination of Hoccleve's ‘Letter of Cupid.’ But poems are historical as well as literary...

(The entire section is 9912 words.)

J. A. Burrow (essay date 1982)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Burrow, J. A. “Autobiographical Poetry in the Middle Ages: The Case of Thomas Hoccleve.” Proceedings of the British Academy 68 (1982): 389-412.

[In this essay, Burrow responds to critics who interpret Hoccleve's persona as mere convention with no basis in reality, and suggests that ignoring the autobiographical aspects of Hoccleve's poetry denies the reader a useful basis for understanding his works.]

Thomas Hoccleve earned his living as a clerk in the office of the Privy Seal, but he also employed his pen in the copying of poetry, his own included. Three autograph copies of his work survive, in fact; and one of these (now Huntington MS HM 744) formerly...

(The entire section is 10076 words.)

John Burrow (essay date 1984)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Burrow, John. “Hoccleve's Series: Experience and Books.” In Fifteenth-Century Studies: Recent Essays, pp. 259-273. Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books, 1984.

[In the following essay, Burrow reviews the structure of Hoccleve's collection of writings titled the Series. Burrow emphasizes similarities to Chaucerian works, especially the Canterbury Tales, and examines Hoccleve's tendency toward self-reference.]

Criticism has hardly begun to do justice to the poetry of Thomas Hoccleve. The names of Hoccleve and Lydgate are often coupled together, like Gray and Collins, or Moody and Sankey; but the two poets are different in many ways. Lydgate is, in...

(The entire section is 6026 words.)

Malcolm Richardson (essay date 1986)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Richardson, Malcolm. “Hoccleve in His Social Context.” Chaucer Review 20, no. 4 (1986): 313-22.

[In this essay, Richardson reconstructs the life Hoccleve likely led as a king's clerk in the fourteenth century. Richardson finds that the pathetic persona Hoccleve created in his poetry was not merely a generic convention, but rather an accurate picture of Hoccleve's circumstances and social status.]

Among other things, the unfortunate poet Thomas Hoccleve is that most characteristic modern literary figure, the little man who tries unsuccessfully to maneuver in a bureaucracy designed to crush him. This Hoccleve persona is one of the most meticulously...

(The entire section is 4482 words.)

D. C. Greetham (essay date 1989)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Greetham, D. C. “Self-Referential Artifacts: Hoccleve's Persona as a Literary Device.” Modern Philology 86, no. 3 (1989): 242-51.

[In the essay below, Greetham places Hoccleve between Chaucer and Robert Burton (author of Anatomy of Melancholy) on a continuum extending from medieval writers to post-modern authors like John Fowles and Woody Allen. Comparing Hoccleve to both earlier and later authors, Greetham argues that Hoccleve could be fruitfully considered a Menippean satirist in the tradition of Boethius.]

Until very recently, we took Thomas Hoccleve at his word. When he claimed to have “lewde speche” and “yonge konynge,”1 C. S....

(The entire section is 5540 words.)

J. A. Burrow (essay date 1990)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Burrow, J. A. “Hoccleve and Chaucer.” In Chaucer Traditions: Studies in Honor of Derek Brewer, 54-61. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990.

[In the essay that follows, Burrow briefly outlines Hoccleve's debt to Chaucer as well as the ways in which Hoccleve might be appreciated more favorably on his own terms. Although Hoccleve's literary art owes much to his mentor, his best work is in the explicit political themes and autobiographical details that Chaucer himself eschewed.]

Some twelve years after Chaucer's death, Thomas Hoccleve paid tribute to the eloquence, wisdom, and piety of his predecessor in three passages of The Regement of...

(The entire section is 3517 words.)

Larry Scanlon (essay date 1990)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Scanlon, Larry. “The King's Two Voices: Narrative and Power in Hoccleve's Regement of Princes.” In Literary Practice and Social Change in Britain, 1380-1530, edited by Lee Patterson, pp. 216-47. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990.

[In this essay, Scanlon considers Hoccleve's Regement of Princes in terms of medieval English thought on kingship and authority. Drawing from Ernst Kantorowicz's work on political theology, The King's Two Bodies, Scanlon looks at how Hoccleve's poem constructs and critiques the voice of the king. For Scanlon, the Regement reflects the increasing power of vernacular literature to influence and disseminate...

(The entire section is 13140 words.)

David R. Carlson (essay date 1991)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Carlson, David R. “Thomas Hoccleve and the Chaucer Portrait.” Huntington Library Quarterly 54, no. 4 (1991): 283-300.

[In the essay below, Carlson argues for the authenticity of the Chaucer portrait Hoccleve commissioned for his Regement of Princes. In Carlson's view, Hoccleve promoted his relationship with Chaucer, an earlier recipient of royal favor, as a part of his petition for patronage, and contends that the portrait would only be effective if it were a true likeness.]

Of the numerous images proposed as representations of Chaucer in early manuscript illuminations, one portrait type has some claim to be a “true portraiture of Geffrey...

(The entire section is 6865 words.)

Anna Torti (essay date 1991)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Torti, Anna. “Specular Narrative: Hoccleve's Regement of Princes.” In Glass of Form: Mirroring Structures from Chaucer to Skelton, pp. 87-106. Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 1991.

[In the following essay, from her study of mirror metaphors in medieval English literature, Torti discusses Hoccleve's Regement of Princes in terms of its function as autobiography. Torti argues that in his construction of a “mirror” in which Prince Henry can see examples of statesmanship, Hoccleve often reflects an image of himself.]

Critical evaluation of Thomas Hoccleve as a mere imitator of Chaucer has had too long a currency,1 and Hoccleve himself is...

(The entire section is 8369 words.)

Karen A. Winstead (essay date 1993)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Winstead, Karen A. “‘I am al othir to yow than yee weene’: Hoccleve, Women, and the Series.Philological Quarterly 72, no. 2 (1993): 143-55.

[In this essay, Winstead addresses the question of whether Hoccleve's praise of women is genuine or satiric, focusing on two poems from the Series, “Jereslaus's Wife” and “Jonathas and Fellicula.” Winstead considers the role of the bumbling narrator, whose “praise” of women may effectively function as criticism.]

In 1399, Christine de Pisan began her assault on the misogynistic writings that were so popular in late medieval Europe with her Epistre au dieu d'amours, a poem in which...

(The entire section is 4564 words.)

Charity Scott Stokes (essay date 1995)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Stokes, Charity Scott. “Thomas Hoccleve's Mother of God and Balade to the Virgin and Christ: Latin and Anglo-Normal Sources.” Medium Aevum 64, no. 1 (1995): 74-84.

[In the essay below, Stokes examines Hoccleve's sources in order to better appreciate his art and rehabilitate his reputation as a poet. Stokes looks at the influence of the Latin Prayer O intemerata et in aeternum benedicta, specialis et incomparabilis virgo on Hoccleve's “Mother of God.” She also discusses various Anglo-Norman sources for his “Balade to the Virgin and Christ,” including several on women and courtly love.]

The tide of critical appreciation has been...

(The entire section is 4754 words.)