The Ironies of Alchemy in Early Modern English Literature
Sixteenth Century Society & Conference
October 25-28, 2012
Chaucer's "Canon's Yeoman's Tale" is the first great satire of alchemy in English literature, but in its final lines it nevertheless suggests that the Philosopher's Stone is a genuine secret deeply hidden in the knowledge of Christ. As Stanton Linden observes, Chaucer's sustained ridicule of alchemy is thus accompanied by the suggestion that the opus alchymicum is not entirely a fool's errand.