This Glossary, designed as a practical aid to the reading of Chaucer, is intended to be serviceable with any of the widely read editions. Its primary aim is to explain the meanings of words and phrases used by Chaucer in ways which are unfamiliar in modern English. Words used as they are today are not included, but many now in common use do appear, as they had different connotations in Chaucer's time. This concise working tool will be valuable to all Middle English scholars.
Begun soon after 1386 and written during several years that followed, Geoffrey Chaucer's great narrative poem The Canterbury Tales presents a richly detailed, highly entertaining, and sometimes bawdy picture of English society in the fourteenth century. Rich with humorous insights into the many foibles of humanity, this poem is considered by most literary critics and scholars to be the first great example of literary art written in vernacular English. Its narrative opens as a party of 30 men and women from various walks of life gather at the Tabard Inn in London, from where they set out on a holy pilgrimage to Canterbury and its shrine dedicated to Thomas Becket. As they travel, each person has a story to tell.The most famous and beloved of Chaucer's stories are presented in interlinear form this intensely readable volume. Alternating each of Chaucer's original lines with its translation into modern English, this book encourages readers to savor the genius of Chaucer's original poetry while following each line with an easy-to-understand modern translation of his Southeast Midlands dialect of Middle English. This scholarly yet truly approachable translation of Chaucer's original poem is the work of Vincent F. Hopper, a longtime professor of English literature at New York University. He opens with the famous Prologue-- Whan that Aprille with his shoures sote
When April with his showers sweet
The droghte of Marche hath perced to the rote,
The drought of March has pierced to the root --and then goes on to present
This fine volume also includes an enlightening introductory essay on Chaucer's art, with Professor Hopper's commentary on England as it existed in the fourteenth century. He concludes with a short list of recommended reading on Chaucer's time and his art.
The question of the "dramatic principle" in the Canterbury Tales, of whether and how the individual tales relate to the pilgrims who are supposed to tell them, has long been a central issue in the interpretation of Chaucer's work. Drawing on ideas from deconstruction, psychoanalysis, and social theory, Leicester proposes that Chaucer can lead us beyond the impasses of contemporary literary theory and suggests new approaches to questions of agency, representation, and the gendered imagination.
Leicester reads the Canterbury Tales as radically voiced and redefines concepts like "self" and "character" in the light of current discussions of language and subjectivity. He argues for Chaucer's disenchanted practical understanding of the constructed character of the self, gender, and society, building his case through close readings of the Pardoner's, Wife of Bath's, and Knight's tales. His study is among the first major treatments of Chaucer's poetry utilizing the techniques of contemporary literary theory and provides new models for reading the poems while revising many older views of them and of Chaucer's relation to his age.
This collection of 32 modernised versions of The Canterbury Tales which appeared in the 18th century offers basic material for studying the history of attitudes to Chaucer, and Chaucer scholarship, duringthe period. Reception data so precise and extensive is available only for Chaucer among English authors. At least seventeen known and anonymous writers produced thirty-two modernised Canterbury tales during the century, plus tale links and adaptations of each other's work. The present collection contains only modernisations that have not seen print since 1796, thus excluding those by Pope and Dryden.
Although most works in this collection may be examined further in several British and American libraries, others cannot. Apparently only one copy has survived of an anonymous Miller's Tale (1791) with a thoughtful preface justifying the tale's overt sexuality published just as William Lipscomb was completing his 1795 edition that, in its preface, justifies exclusion from the pilgrimage of the notorious tales of Miller and Reeve. Such contrasting attitudes illustrate the dangers of generalisation about the usual reception or interpretation of Chaucer during this or any other socio-historic period; instead, the collection provides an untapped reservoir of material with which to investigate anew the rich complexity of his poetry and its enduring appeal.
BETSY BOWDEN is Professor of English at Rutgers University, New Jersey.
In the face of vociferous protestations from his friends, age-withered January selects a radiant young wife. His beloved--innocence embodied, to the untrained eye--wastes little time acquainting herself with his servants. Taking advantage of her husband's blindness, she explores her carnal appetite with his footman, with little regard for dignity. Chaucer's genius is to elevate her transgression to the level of gender politics; as deities intervene to decide the plight of future man and woman, the full import of January and May's relationship is revealed.
Taking the stage after the Knight and his lofty tale of courtly love, the drunken miller regales the pilgrims with the account of a young scholar, Nicholas, who persuades his aged landlord's beautiful young wife to go to bed with him. Having successfully duped the husband and made his conquest, he finds himself the butt of his own practical joke played on a rival suitor, in the process giving rise to a famously farcical end sequence.
In the fourteenth century Geoffrey Chaucer, who served three kings as a customs official and special envoy, virtually invented English poetry. He did so by wedding the language of common speech to metrical verse, creating a medium that could accommodate tales of courtly romance, bawdy fabliaux, astute psychological portraiture, dramatic monologues, moral allegories, and its author's astonishing learning in fields from philosophy to medicine and astrology. Chaucer's accomplishment is unequalled by any poet before Shakespeare and--in The Canterbury Tales and Troilus and Cressida--ranks with that of the great English novelists.Both The Canterbury Tales and Troilus and Cressida are presented complete in this anthology, in fresh modern translations by Theodore Morrison that convey both the gravity and gaiety of the Middle English originals. The Portable Chaucer also contains selections from The Book of Duchess, The House of Fame, The Bird's Parliament, and The Legend of Good Women, together with short poems. Morrison's introduction is vital for its insights into Chaucer as man and artist, and as a product of the Middle Ages whose shrewdness, humor, and compassion have a wonderfully contemporary ring.
In the tradition of Seamus Heaney s Beowulf and Marie Borroff s Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Sheila Fisher s The Selected Canterbury Tales is a vivid, lively, and readable translation of the most famous work of England s premier medieval poet. Preserving Chaucer s rhyme and meter, Fisher makes these tales accessible to a contemporary ear while inviting readers to the Middle English original on facing pages. Her informative introduction highlights Chaucer s artistic originality in his memorable portrayals of surprisingly modern women and men from across the spectrum of medieval society."