Chaucer and Petrarch: “S’amor non è” and the Canticus Troili

Warren Ginsberg


The scholastic ambience of S’amor non è (Rvf 132) is not accidental; in it Petrarch demolishes the medieval cornerstone of knowledge by contradicting Aristotle’s law of non-contradiction. When Chaucer, however, translated the sonnet in the Troilus, he had to ponder its pensive U-turns within the framework of Boccaccio’s Filostrato. From this perspective, Troilus’s “If no love is” is less a retort to the law of non-contradiction than an interrogation of the law of the excluded middle. Chaucer’s Pandarus simultaneously substantiates the law and gives it the lie.


Petrarch; Chaucer

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