chapter  3
The Many John Lydgates in the World of the Tales
Pages 28

The murky case of the Cook's Tale presents a panoply of various issues relevant to the discussion of the Canterbury Tales as a textually dynamic work with a history of interaction. The sixteenth-century proto-Protestant Plowman's Tale is not found in any medieval manuscript but in modern manuscript and several printed editions. Chaucer's plans for his narrative seem to have been in a constant state of flux in all of his literary works. On the other hand, Chaucer might have had an ending in mind but stopped because of some interrupting life events such as sickness or death. Blake, however, argues that Chaucer may have supervised the Harley text as well, which would indicate that Chaucer either intended the Cook's Tale to end with Gamelyn or experimented with it as a possible ending. Governance is both the central value promoted through the rhetoric of the new additions and something that the interactor seeks to impose on Chaucer's potentially unwieldy initial narrative.