Disreputable Magic

21canons_yeoman1bMy thoughts have turned perhaps inexorably to the intersection of crime and magic in the Middle Ages, as my interests seem to intensify where they overlap. Or it just amuses me as I turn my mind to other topics to exercise different muscles in my head (so to speak). Missing Strange & Norrell (the series; I have begun the book and am pleased to find a good deal of humour in it) of course and still thinking about this notion (fictional though it may be) of making magic respectable.

Not surprisingly, perhaps, this has led me to the Canon’s Yeoman’s Tale — so much so that I may come up with a paper proposal for Leeds next year. It may seem a long way from Chaucer to Strange & Norrell, but not in my head.

CYT features one of the belated arrivals to pilgrimage in The Canterbury Tales. The canon and his yeoman catch up to the pilgrims and the yeoman launches into a recital of the canon’s alchemical life that soon makes his boss leave in a huff. The yeoman takes this opportunity to show that the canon is a scoundrel in this ‘elvysshe craft’ known as alchemy

Read the rest at Witches & Pagans.