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Geoffrey Chaucer


King contributed to ransom. Chaucer's Later Early Life. 1361-1365 - probably ... He quotes lyrics in some of his poetry, for example in the Knight's Tale(CT I. ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Geoffrey Chaucer

Geoffrey Chaucer
  • This chaw-sure is delicious

April Cui, Colleen Dorsey, Ian White
Chaucers Forebears
  • At least four generations of middle-class
  • Connections with court increase
  • John Chaucer - father
  • London vintner (wine maker/merchant)
  • Deputy to kings butler
  • Member of Edward IIIs expedition to Antwerp
  • Name Chaucer derives from the French word
    chaussier, which means a maker of footwear
  • The family made their money from wine and leather

Chaucers Early life
  • Exact date of birth unknown
  • Customarily given at 1340,
  • probably 1342/1343
  • In London
  • No info on early education
  • Probably as fluent in French as Middle English
  • Became competent in Latin and Italian
  • 1357 - First recorded appearance
  • As member of a royal household
  • Placed in the household by his father to advance
    Geoffreys career with courtly education
  • 1359 - member of Edward IIIs army
  • In France, captured during unsuccessful siege of
  • King contributed to ransom

Chaucers Later Early Life
  • 1361-1365 - probably studying law
  • 1366 - begins diplomatic missions to European
  • Flanders, France, Italy
  • Encountered Dante, Petrarch, and others
  • 1366 - Chaucer had married
  • Philippa Pan
  • 1367 - annuity for life as yeoman of the king
  • 1369/1370 - first important poem - Book of the
  • Elegy for duchess of Lancaster

Chaucers Later Life
  • 1374 - appointed a customs official for port of
  • Political turmoil
  • Thomas of Woodstock
  • 1385 - became justice of the peace and knight of
    the shire for Kent
  • 1388 - series of suits against him for debts,
    sold his royal pension
  • 1389 - clerk of Kings works
  • Richard II
  • 1380s - wrote Troilus and Criseyde
  • 1390s - wrote Canterbury Tales
  • 1400 - died in London

Language in England - French
  • By Chaucers time, French was the dominant
    language of the court
  • King Edward IIIs court
  • French culture
  • French poets, e.g. Jean Froissant and Otho de
    Graunson, Chaucers contemporaries
  • Parisian French supplants Norman French in court.
    Norman French use reduced to provinces

Language in England - English
  • However, the aristocracy also used English
  • King Edward I spoke English and liked English
  • Elementary schools taught in English
  • Late 14th century demand for books in English
  • 15th century, London English became dialect of
    those in power

High Style
  • Also golden style
  • Diction overflowed the boundaries of straight
    English, much borrowing from Latin and French
  • Refers to rhetoric - graceful verse as an art
    form (not persuasion)
  • Basis in popular tradition and actual speech
  • Became standard style of elegant writers
  • Helped establish Chaucers London English as the
    dialect of people of power

High Style
  • Often uses apostrophe (speaking to a character or
    an absent/anonymous person). Apostrophe is also
    applicable to objects or ideas
  • O brotil joye! O sweete venim queynte! (MerT
  • High style is also marked by rhetorical, detailed
    character depictions, and cataloguing (lists) as
    found in The Knights Tales list of trees.
  • But how the fire, was made to climb so high Or
    what names all the different trees went by. As
    oak, fir, birch, asp, alder, poplar, holm,
    Willow, plane, ash, box, chestnut, linden, elm,
    Laurel, thorn, maple, beech, yew, dogwood tree,
    Or how they were felled, sha'n't be told by me.

High Style - Rime Royal
  • Aka rhythme royal,
  • 7 iambic pentameter lines, ababbcc
  • Stanza form Chaucer used in his middle years
  • used in Troilus and Criseyde
  • became standard for elegant verse
  • Chaucer first to use it in English, but source is
    unknown. Also first to use the heroic couplet

Criseyde, which that wel neigh starf for feere,
A So as she was the ferfulleste wight
B That myghte be, and herde ek
with hire ere A And saugh the sorwful
ernest of the knyght, B And in his preier
ek saugh noon unryght, B And for the
harm that myghte ek fallen moore, C She gan
to rewe and dredde hire wonder soore, C
The Faibliau
  • The fabliau is a comical story told in verse that
    originated in France. It has a simple style,
    portraying everyday characters. It features
    plots based on tricks played by the characters,
    often displaying an unnatural amount of
    gullibility and sexual appetite.
  • Before Chaucer, fabliaux were only used in French
    literature. During Chaucers time, sophisticated
    comedic stories were popular, but usually in
    prose. Chaucer brought the genre into verse while
    retaining the high style. The Canterbury tales,
    the Millers Tale, Reeves Tale, Shipmans Tale,
    and Summoners Tale are all fabliaux.

Lyric Poetry
  • Originally, the English lyric (a type of sung
    poem) was relatively simple, direct, and had
    diction uninfluenced by the French.
  • Chaucer was certainly familiar with this style.
    He quotes lyrics in some of his poetry, for
    example in the Knights Tale(CT I.1510-12), which
    gives us an idea of the style.
  • Chaucer applied the elaborate high style to the
    English lyric, as he did with a great majority of
    his writing, notably his later writing. Chaucers
    surviving lyrics, like Gentilesse, are almost
    all written in high style, as are lyrics by many
    of his followers in English literature.

Lyric Poetry - Examples
  • Chaucer - Gentilesse
  • Before Chaucer - Cuckoo song
  • Sumer is ycomen in, Loude sing cuckou! Groweth
    seed and bloweth meed, And springth the wode
    now. Sing cuckou! Ewe bleteth after lamb, Loweth
    after calve cow, Bulloc sterteth, bucke
    verteth, Merye sing cuckou! Cuckou, cuckou, Wel
    singest thou cuckou Ne swik thou never now!

Canterbury Tales
  • Most famous work
  • 30 Pilgrims, traveling to shrine of Thomas à
  • Chaucer didnt complete
  • Not all pilgrims, no return trip
  • Pilgrimage as framing device for collection of
  • People of many walks of life
  • Many literary genres
  • Courtly romance, faibliau, allegorical, fable,
    medieval sermon
  • Combines religious purpose with seclar aspect of
    spring vacation
  • Pleasures and vices of world

  • Encyclopaedia Britannica 2007 Ultimate Reference
  • The Riverside Chaucer
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