Chaucer the Alchemist: Physics, Mutability, and the Medieval by Alexander N. Gabrovsky

By Alexander N. Gabrovsky

The secrets and techniques of nature's alchemy captivated either the medical and literary mind's eye of the center a long time. This booklet explores Chaucer's fascination with earth's mutability. Gabrovsky unearths that his poetry represents a massive contribution to a medieval worldview based at the philosophy of physics, astronomy, alchemy, and common sense.

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Additional resources for Chaucer the Alchemist: Physics, Mutability, and the Medieval Imagination

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Virtually all philosophers in the Middle Ages attempted the difficult task of explaining the precise nature of this chemical bond. How did this new substantial form emerge? Do the elements still persist in the compound? What is responsible for this binding force between the elements? What constitutes this new substantial form that emerges from the mixtum? Not surprisingly, the generans of the new substantial form was thought by nearly all medieval philosophers to be God himself, or at least some form of higher celestial being.

Not surprisingly, the generans of the new substantial form was thought by nearly all medieval philosophers to be God himself, or at least some form of higher celestial being. Similarly, the Neoplatonic thrust of Theseus’s speech establishes the First-Mover as the generans for this binding force between elements. Stephen A. 16 What appears to be at issue here is the relationship between the so-called bonds of love and the chemical bonds among the element-forms. But more crucially, the physical bonds existing in the sublunar world of mutability remain unambiguously as chemical bonds—that is to say, the weak forces acting as the glue between non-opposite qualities.

How do we define change? What constitutes motion? Does the physical universe include continua or also indivisibles and atoms? ” To what extent is there material causality in the universe? Barry A. 19 From this perspective, it is possible to imagine his medieval and renaissance audiences interpreting selective poems in terms of alchemy and chemical combination. Reading traces of medieval “physics” in Chaucer’s texts in the exact same way as his audiences would have read them requires careful consideration of Chaucer’s unique placement among university-trained courtiers and civil servants, the role of medieval universities, and the impact of fourteenthcentury clerical cultures on his poetry.

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