"The Canterbury Tales" is an anthology of 24 tales written in Middle English by Geoffrey Chaucer in 1475, mostly in verse and some are in prose. The narrator commences the General Prologue with a description of spring, a time of the year when people wish to go on a pilgrimage. The tales are narrated by a group of … [Read more...] about The Canterbury Tales
Geoffrey Chaucer (ca. 1345-1400) was one of the greatest poets of the late Middle Ages (C. E. 476 c.–1500) and is considered to be the father of English poetry. Chaucer was born in 1343 to a fairly upper-middle class family, probably in London, his father being a wine merchant and king's butler’s deputy. There is little information about his education, but his writings prove that he was closely familiar with many books of his contemporary writers and of earlier periods and was probably fluent in several languages (French, Italian, and Latin).
After 1357 he obtained a job as page for the Countess of Ulster, then in 1359 he joined the English Army, was captured during an unsuccessful offensive at Reims, North-Eastern France, but was eventually ransomed. In 1366 he married Philippa de Roet and had two sons, and two daughters.
In 1367 he was Member of the royal court being the valet to King Edward III, then in 1369 began working on the "Book of the Duchess", an elegy dedicated to Blanche of Lancaster. In 1370 Chaucer went for the second time to the English Army, travelling afterwards to Italy, where he read medieval poetry written by Italian authors (Dante, Petrarch, and Boccaccio) that influenced his work. He was then appointed Comptroller of Customs for 12 years, period in which he writes most of his poetic works: "Anelida and Arcite", "The House of Fame", a poem with more than 2,000 lines, under the form of a dream vision that is interrupted so some experts consider that Chaucer did not finish it.
In 1382 Chaucer composed the poem "Parlement of Foules" of 700 lines and begins writing "Troilus and Criseyde", an epic poem completed in 1388. Then he got a position for four years in Kent as Justice of the Peace, after which he joined the Parliament and began work on "The Legend of Good Women", a poem completed between 1386 and 1388.
In 1387 Philippa Chaucer died and Chaucer started writing his most acclaimed work, "The Canterbury Tales" (his masterpiece written over ten years), which secured his literary reputation. After 1389 he was Clerk of the King's Works then Deputy Forester in the forest of North Petherton.
Chaucer made many translations of verse and prose, which include sermons, Boethius' Consolation of Philosophy, French poetry, saints' legends by Machaut and Deschamps, and Italian and Latin poetry (Ovid, Virgil, Boccaccio, Petrarch). He also had extensive knowledge of jurisprudence, physiognomy, astrology, astronomy, alchemy, medicine, physics and his alchemy knowledge was so impressive that the alchemists of those times called him a ‘master’ of this science.
According to the legend on his Westminster Abbey tomb, Chaucer died on 25 October 1400.