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Geoffrey Chaucer


Geoffrey Chaucer s The Canterbury Tales Chaucer s Life Born to a wealthy wine merchant Was made a page in court Served various kings as a soldier, diplomat, and ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Geoffrey Chaucer

Geoffrey Chaucers The Canterbury Tales
Chaucers Life
  • Born to a wealthy wine merchant
  • Was made a page in court
  • Served various kings as a soldier, diplomat, and
    civil servant
  • Was well traveled and well-spoken
  • Likely met Boccaccio and Petrarch
  • Stayed mostly in London, but eventually to Kent
    and Canterbury
  • Died while working on The Canterbury Tales

History of the Tales
  • Geoffrey Chaucer began writing the tales around
    1387 AD
  • Uncompleted manuscript published 1400AD, the year
    he died
  • First book of poetry purposely written in the
    English language
  • Set a precedent and poets from Shakespeare to
    Dryden and Keats to Eliot owe him a debt of

Artistry of Form
  • As a work of art it encompasses individuality and
  • Narrative structure allowed Chaucer the freedom
    to create a variety of matter in a unified form
  • Many genres incorporated including
  • Fabliaux
  • Romance
  • Melodrama
  • Parable
  • And more

Artistry of Form (contd.)
  • Despite being unfinished, clear indications of a
  • Each pilgrim to tell at least two stories maybe
  • Chaucer was writing and collecting whatever
    occurred to him, but it was likely to find a more
    firmly constructed structure as it neared

Artistry of Language
  • Chaucer wrote in English
  • It was becoming more solid and widespread
  • He used verse, which was the norm, but varied it
    according to his purpose
  • Despite borrowing much of his material, his use
    of language injects these tales with new life

Mastery of Character
  • Part of his master rests with creating characters
  • The characters take turns telling tales
  • They have depth and verisimilitude
  • Characters are created through
  • Physical descriptions (some quite graphic)
  • Characters interacting with each other
  • The tales themselves reflecting character (often
    specifically their personalities and motivations)

Merits of Meaning
  • Chaucer is free to use tales to convey multiple
  • Creates a microcosm of medieval English life
    (almost a sociological exploration possible)
  • Paints a multifaceted picture of humanity
  • Parodies forms of literature
  • Entertains

Here Bygynneth the Book of the tales of
  • 1 Whan that aprill with his shoures soote 2
    The droghte of march hath perced to the roote, 3
    And bathed every veyne in swich licour 4 Of
    which vertu engendred is the flour 5 Whan
    zephirus eek with his sweete breeth 6 Inspired
    hath in every holt and heeth 7 Tendre croppes,
    and the yonge sonne 8 Hath in the ram his halve
    cours yronne,

  • 9 And smale foweles maken melodye, 10 That
    slepen al the nyght with open ye 11 (so priketh
    hem nature in hir corages) 12 Thanne longen
    folk to goon on pilgrimages, 13 And palmeres for
    to seken straunge strondes, 14 To ferne halwes,
    kowthe in sondry londes 15 And specially from
    every shires ende 16 Of engelond to caunterbury
    they wende, 17 The hooly blisful martir for to