ePIlo gue
The Lay of the Land
Amateur Medievalism and Queer Love
in A Canterbury Tale
Canterbury Tale, the brilliant and baffling 1944
film, pushes to a bizarre and criminal point the
implications of my discussion heretofore. If,
as I have been maintaining throughout this book,
the experience of a now shot through with different
times is a wondrous possibility in the everyday, and
if this possibility has ethical potential because it en-
ables the rendering of justice that might have been
absent in the past—if all this is the case—it could
be thought that merely hypothesizing the concept
of a more heterogeneous now is not enough. Suppose
that some lunatic enthusiast decided that people
must be compelled, by force if necessary, to engage
such a now. Something like this is the startlingly
peculiar premise of A Canterbury Tale: more spe-
cifically, a “loony English squire” insists that people
must be forced to desire the past.
A Canterbury Tale depicts these attempts at tem-
poral compulsion in a strange tale of an amateur
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