Chaucer and the Canterbury Tales: A Short Introduction by John C. Hirsh

By John C. Hirsh

This concise and vigorous survey introduces scholars with out earlier wisdom to Chaucer, and especially to the 'Canterbury Tales'. Written in an invitingly inclusive but intellectually subtle variety, it offers crucial proof in regards to the poet, together with a biography and cartoon of his significant works, in addition to supplying a framework for considering creatively approximately his writing. Chapters concentration upon and advertise an engaged studying of the 'Canterbury Tales', introducing past scholarly opinion as useful. John Hirsh encourages the scholar to learn the paintings much less when it comes to literary realism, with a spotlight upon person pilgrims and how they react to one another, than as a socially developed construction during which the individuals and the needs of the pilgrims are discovered by means of a sequence of thought of buildings which point out either authorial that means and cultural context. Readers additionally achieve a feeling of Chaucer's different works, for instance why his translation of Boethius used to be vital, and what the historical past was once to works akin to 'Troilus and Criseyde', the 'Book of the Duchess', and the 'Parliament of Fowls'. attention of topics comparable to gender crosses over a variety of chapters. The booklet presents the suitable relief to realizing and appreciating Geoffrey Chaucer and his works.

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Example text

But from 1389 until 1393 things were relatively quiet. But whatever did Chaucer make of what was going on, and what part did he take in these events, in which, after all, he was clearly involved? In Social Chaucer,9 a book which really for the first time set Chaucer and his work against the political realities of the period in which he lived, Paul Strohm detailed Chaucer’s social and political attitudes during the late 1380s. Whereas in the past most scholars had thought that Chaucer stayed well away from politics, or at best kept a foot in both camps, Strohm argued that he had done no such thing, and that in certain important ways he was, at least for a period of time, Richard’s man, though he also distanced himself to Richard, particularly as he became more despotic.

25 come deeply engaged in writing the Canterbury Tales, the picture which emerges is one of a poet who has put much of his government work behind him, who is on reasonably firm ground financially, and who is well known and respected in the court. We know that he drew upon earlier compositions in organizing his great work, and that certain of the tales – the Knight’s Tale, for example, and probably also the Prioress’s Tale, and the Second Nun’s Tale – were rewritten from earlier versions, and that others – the Canon’s Yeoman’s Tale, and possibly the Monk’s Tale and the Parson’s Tale – show evidence of earlier composition too, if not so compellingly.

10 But it was during this period that it became clear that Chaucer had indeed survived treacherous times. In 1389 he was appointed Clerk of the King’s Works, which included responsibilities for overseeing construction and repair work on royal properties at Westminster and also at the Tower of London, no easy job. In the following year, 1390, he was appointed Commissioner of Walls and Ditches, a most responsible position (though it may not sound so to a modern ear), one that gave him oversight responsibility for public works along the River Thames between Woolwich and Greenwich.

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