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  1. A band of people from all walks of life gather to begin a pilgrimage
  2. During what century did Chaucer live?
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CDs, access codes etc. Chaucer's characters each express different—sometimes vastly different—views of reality, creating an atmosphere of testing , empathy , and relativism. The concept of liminality figures prominently within The Canterbury Tales. Thus, the structure of The Canterbury Tales itself is liminal; it not only covers the distance between London and Canterbury, but the majority of the tales refer to places entirely outside the geography of the pilgrimage.

Jean Jost summarises the function of liminality in The Canterbury Tales ,. Both appropriately and ironically in this raucous and subversive liminal space, a ragtag assembly gather together and tell their equally unconventional tales. In this unruly place, the rules of tale telling are established, themselves to be both disordered and broken; here the tales of game and earnest, solas and sentence, will be set and interrupted. Here the sacred and profane adventure begins, but does not end. Here, the condition of peril is as prominent as that of protection. The act of pilgrimaging itself consists of moving from one urban space, through liminal rural space, to the next urban space with an ever fluctuating series of events and narratives punctuating those spaces.

The goal of pilgrimage may well be a religious or spiritual space at its conclusion, and reflect a psychological progression of the spirit, in yet another kind of emotional space. Liminality is also evident in the individual tales. It is sometimes argued that the greatest contribution that this work made to English literature was in popularising the literary use of the vernacular English, rather than French or Latin. English had, however, been used as a literary language for centuries before Chaucer's life, and several of Chaucer's contemporaries— John Gower , William Langland , and the Pearl Poet —also wrote major literary works in English.

It is unclear to what extent Chaucer was responsible for starting a trend rather than simply being part of it. While Chaucer clearly states the addressees of many of his poems the Book of the Duchess is believed to have been written for John of Gaunt on the occasion of his wife's death in , the intended audience of The Canterbury Tales is more difficult to determine.

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Chaucer was a courtier , leading some to believe that he was mainly a court poet who wrote exclusively for the nobility. He is referred to as a noble translator and poet by Eustache Deschamps and by his contemporary John Gower. It has been suggested that the poem was intended to be read aloud, which is probable as this was a common activity at the time.

However, it also seems to have been intended for private reading as well, since Chaucer frequently refers to himself as the writer, rather than the speaker, of the work. Determining the intended audience directly from the text is even more difficult, since the audience is part of the story. This makes it difficult to tell when Chaucer is writing to the fictional pilgrim audience or the actual reader. Chaucer's works may have been distributed in some form during his lifetime in part or in whole.

Scholars speculate that manuscripts were circulated among his friends, but likely remained unknown to most people until after his death. However, the speed with which copyists strove to write complete versions of his tale in manuscript form shows that Chaucer was a famous and respected poet in his own day. The Hengwrt and Ellesmere manuscripts are examples of the care taken to distribute the work. More manuscript copies of the poem exist than for any other poem of its day except The Prick of Conscience , causing some scholars to give it the medieval equivalent of bestseller status.

Even the most elegant of the illustrated manuscripts, however, is not nearly as highly decorated as the work of authors of more respectable works such as John Lydgate 's religious and historical literature. John Lydgate and Thomas Occleve were among the first critics of Chaucer's Tales , praising the poet as the greatest English poet of all time and the first to show what the language was truly capable of poetically.

A band of people from all walks of life gather to begin a pilgrimage

This sentiment was universally agreed upon by later critics into the midth century. Glosses included in The Canterbury Tales manuscripts of the time praised him highly for his skill with "sentence" and rhetoric, the two pillars by which medieval critics judged poetry. The most respected of the tales was at this time the Knight's, as it was full of both. The incompleteness of the Tales led several medieval authors to write additions and supplements to the tales to make them more complete.

Some of the oldest existing manuscripts of the tales include new or modified tales, showing that even early on, such additions were being created. The Tale of Beryn , written by an anonymous author in the 15th century, is preceded by a lengthy prologue in which the pilgrims arrive at Canterbury and their activities there are described.

During what century did Chaucer live?

While the rest of the pilgrims disperse throughout the town, the Pardoner seeks the affections of Kate the barmaid, but faces problems dealing with the man in her life and the innkeeper Harry Bailey. As the pilgrims turn back home, the Merchant restarts the storytelling with Tale of Beryn. In this tale, a young man named Beryn travels from Rome to Egypt to seek his fortune only to be cheated by other businessmen there.

He is then aided by a local man in getting his revenge. John Lydgate wrote The Siege of Thebes in about Like the Tale of Beryn , it is preceded by a prologue in which the pilgrims arrive in Canterbury. Lydgate places himself among the pilgrims as one of them and describes how he was a part of Chaucer's trip and heard the stories. He characterises himself as a monk and tells a long story about the history of Thebes before the events of the Knight's Tale. John Lydgate's tale was popular early on and exists in old manuscripts both on its own and as part of the Tales.

It was first printed as early as by John Stow , and several editions for centuries after followed suit. There are actually two versions of The Plowman's Tale , both of which are influenced by the story Piers Plowman , a work written during Chaucer's lifetime. Chaucer describes a Plowman in the General Prologue of his tales, but never gives him his own tale. One tale, written by Thomas Occleve , describes the miracle of the Virgin and the Sleeveless Garment.

Another tale features a pelican and a griffin debating church corruption, with the pelican taking a position of protest akin to John Wycliffe 's ideas. The Tale of Gamelyn was included in an early manuscript version of the tales, Harley , which is notorious for being one of the lower-quality early manuscripts in terms of editor error and alteration. It is now widely rejected by scholars as an authentic Chaucerian tale, although some scholars think he may have intended to rewrite the story as a tale for the Yeoman.

Dates for its authorship vary from to Many literary works both fiction and non-fiction alike have used a similar frame narrative to The Canterbury Tales as an homage.


Science-fiction writer Dan Simmons wrote his Hugo Award winning novel Hyperion based on an extra-planetary group of pilgrims. His animal pilgrims are on their way to find the common ancestor, each telling a tale about evolution. Henry Dudeney 's book The Canterbury Puzzles contains a part reputedly lost from what modern readers know as Chaucer's tales. Historical-mystery novelist P.

Doherty wrote a series of novels based on The Canterbury Tales , making use of both the story frame and Chaucer's characters. Canadian author Angie Abdou translates The Canterbury Tales to a cross section of people, all snow-sports enthusiasts but from different social backgrounds, converging on a remote back-country ski cabin in British Columbia in the novel The Canterbury Trail. Nevill Coghill 's modern English version formed the basis of a musical version that was first staged in A Canterbury Tale , a film jointly written and directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger , is loosely based on the narrative frame of Chaucer's tales.

The movie opens with a group of medieval pilgrims journeying through the Kentish countryside as a narrator speaks the opening lines of the General Prologue. The scene then makes a now-famous transition to the time of World War II. From that point on, the film follows a group of strangers, each with his or her own story and in need of some kind of redemption, who are making their way to Canterbury together.

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The film's main story takes place in an imaginary town in Kent and ends with the main characters arriving at Canterbury Cathedral, bells pealing and Chaucer's words again resounding. A Canterbury Tale is recognised as one of the Powell-Pressburger team's most poetic and artful films. It was produced as wartime propaganda, using Chaucer's poetry, referring to the famous pilgrimage, and offering photography of Kent to remind the public of what made Britain worth fighting for. In one scene a local historian lectures an audience of British soldiers about the pilgrims of Chaucer's time and the vibrant history of England.

Pier Paolo Pasolini 's film The Canterbury Tales features several of the tales, some of which keep close to the original tale and some of which are embellished. The Cook's Tale , for instance, which is incomplete in the original version, is expanded into a full story, and the Friar's Tale extends the scene in which the Summoner is dragged down to hell. He commented, "Although those words were written more than years ago, they still describe spring.

In , the BBC again featured modern re-tellings of selected tales. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Collection of stories written in Middle English by Geoffrey Chaucer. For other uses, see The Canterbury Tales disambiguation. The Merchant's Prologue. Recording in reconstructed Middle English pronunciation.

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Canterbury tales, selected; (Book, ) []

November Learn how and when to remove this template message. The Chaucer Review , Vol. Accessed 6 January Its modern name first appeared as Canterbury talys in John Lydgate 's — prologue to the Siege of Thebes. An Age of Plague — Nevertheless, the Friar's tale about a summoner makes the Summoner so angry that he tells an obscene story about the fate of all friars and then continues with an obscene tale about one friar in particular.

After the Friar and Summoner finish their insulting stories about each other, the Host turns to the Clerk and asks for a lively tale. The Clerk tells a story about Griselda and her patience — a story that depicts the exact opposite of The Wife of Bath's Tale. The Merchant comments that he has no wife as patient and sweet as Griselda and tells of tale of a young wife who cheats on her old husband.

After the Merchant's tale, the Host requests another tale about love and turns to the Squire, who begins a tale of supernatural events. He does not finish, however, because the Franklin interrupts him to compliment the Squire on his eloquence and gentility. The Host, interested only get in getting the next story told, commands the Franklin to begin his tale, which he does. The Franklin tells of a happy marriage.

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Then the Physician offers his tale of the tragic woe of a father and daughter — a story that upsets the Host so much that he requests a merry tale from the Pardoner. The Pardoner tells a tale in which he proves that, even though he is not a moral man, he can tell a moral tale. At the end of the tale, the Pardoner invites the pilgrims to buy relics and pardons from him and suggests that the Host should begin because he is the most sinful.

This comment infuriates the Host; the Knight intercedes between the Host and the Pardoner and restores peace. The pilgrims then hear a story by the Prioress about a young martyr. After the seriousness of this tale, the Host turns to Chaucer and asks him for something to liven up the group. Chaucer begins a story about Sir Topas but is soon interrupted by the Host, who exclaims that he is tired of the jingling rhymes and wants Chaucer to tell a little something in prose.

Chaucer complies with the boring story of Melibee. After the tale of Melibee, the Host turns to the merry Monk and demands a story that he confidently expects to be a jovial and happy tale. Instead, the Monk relates a series of tales in which tragedy befalls everyone. The Knight joins in with the Host in proclaiming that the Monk's tales are too much to bear and requests a merry tale. But the Monk refuses, and the Host turns to the Nun's Priest and calls for a tale.