3. Geoffrey Chaucer & The Canterbury Tales Flashcards Preview

U43. Oral Medieval Literature. The Arthurian Legend, Geoffrey Chaucer & The Canterbury Tales > 3. Geoffrey Chaucer & The Canterbury Tales > Flashcards

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Where does the tale start ? ;)



Who is Geoffrey Chaucer?

Geoffrey Chaucer was born about 1340 in London.


Did he attended school?

We know little of his childhood education. What we know is that in 1357, at the age of 17, being an officer of the Countess of Ulster, he me John of Gaunt who would be his lifelong patron and friend.


But, There were wars and difficult times then, Isn’t it?

Being with the army in France in 1359, he was taken prisoner and released a year latter thanks to the intervention of the king Edward III. In 1367 he was taken into the service of a member of the royal family and had the opportunity to travel to France, Low Countries and two times to Italy.


Did those travels influenced his writing?

Yes, especially those to Italy since they gave him the opportunity to discover Italian literature, specifically the works of Dante and Bocaccio taking advantage of both French and Italian literature.


What are his most remarkable works?

Anelida and Arcite (poem), The Parlement of Foules (marriage of Richard I and Anne of Bohemia); Consolation of Philosophy of Boethius (translation); Palamon and Arcite (included in the Canterbury Tales); Troilus and Criseyde (1382 – 1386).


What were his French influences?

Chaucer is completely continental in his literary tastes. He is remarkably indifferent to English writings, his influences come from the Roman de la Rose and the poems of Machant, Ovid and the contemporary French poets, including Deschamps and Froissart.


And the Italian influences?

The Divine Comedy to some extent but more especially some poems of Boccaccio.


Is there a previous work?

Yes, The Legend of Good Women. It is a collection of nineteen stories about women famous for their faithfulness in love.


And, What happened?

He didn’t finished as the addressee, Joan, widow of the Black Prince died before he could conclude his work.


What did he do then?

He devoted himself to the Canterbury Tales project.


Let’s focus more on this work.



How many tales did he write?

Chaucer intended to write 120 stories which would be told by a group of pilgrims going from London to Canterbury. However, there are only 24 tales and two of them are interrupted before the end and another two shortly before they start. Presumably, Chaucer altered the plan he had designed.


Could you highlight the most remarkable features of these 24 tales?

This is more than a simple collection of stories. It is a part of life in the fourteenth century. It is the stage where people of different social classes reveal their private lives habits changing moods, human qualities,


What styles can we find in the Canterbury Tales?

In the Canterbury Tales there is a wide variety of the styles cultivated in Medieval Literature. This is an anthology of Medieval Literature, Chaucer put outside these tales in 1395 and finally died in 1400


Right! Give an overall of the whole thing.

The Canterbury Tales is more than a simple collection of stories. It is the stage where fourteenth century life is represented. It is a Comédie Humaine, in which a group of thirty people of various classes reveal their private lives and habits.


Should we consider this work separately?

If we consider The Canterbury Tales as merely a collection of separate tales, we will soon realise that it is an actual anthology of medieval literature.