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The Canterbury Tales The Canterbury Tales is a collection of over
20 stories written in Middle English by Geoffrey Chaucer at the end of the 14th century, during
the time of the Hundred Years' War. The tales are presented as part of a story-telling contest
by a group of pilgrims as they travel together on a journey from Southwark to the shrine
of Saint Thomas Becket at Canterbury Cathedral. The prize for this contest is a free meal
at the Tabard Inn at Southwark on their return. After a long list of works written earlier
in his career, including Troilus and Criseyde, House of Fame, and "Parliament of Fowls",
The Canterbury Tales was Chaucer's magnum opus. He uses the tales and the descriptions
of its characters to paint an ironic and critical portrait of English society at the time, and
particularly of the Church. Structurally, the collection resembles The Decameron, which
Chaucer may have read during his first diplomatic mission to Italy in 1372.
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 intended audience
of The Canterbury Tales is more difficult to determine. Chaucer was a courtier, leading
some to believe that he was mainly a court poet who wrote exclusively for nobility.
Text The question of whether The Canterbury Tales
is finished has not yet been answered. There are 83 known manuscripts of the work from
the late medieval and early Renaissance period, more than any other vernacular literary text
with the exception of The Prick of Conscience. This is taken as evidence of the tales' popularity
during the century after Chaucer's death. Fifty-five of these manuscripts are thought
to have been complete at one time, while 28 are so fragmentary that it is difficult to
ascertain whether they were copied individually or as part of a set. The Tales vary in both
minor and major ways from manuscript to manuscript; many of the minor variations are due to copyists'
errors, while others suggest that Chaucer added to and revised his work as it was being
copied and (possibly) distributed. Even the earliest surviving manuscripts are
not Chaucer's originals, the oldest being MS Peniarth 392 D (called "Hengwrt"), compiled
by a scribe shortly after Chaucer's death. The most beautiful of the manuscripts of the
tales is the Ellesmere Manuscript, and many editors have followed the order of the Ellesmere
over the centuries, even down to the present day. The first version of The Canterbury Tales
to be published in print was William Caxton's 1478 edition. Since this print edition was
created from a now-lost manuscript, it is counted as among the 83 manuscripts.
Order No authorial, arguably complete version of
the Tales exists and no consensus has been reached regarding the order in which Chaucer
intended the stories to be placed. Textual and manuscript clues have been adduced
to support the two most popular modern methods of ordering the tales. Some scholarly editions
divide the Tales into ten "Fragments". The tales that comprise a Fragment are closely
related and contain internal indications of their order of presentation, usually with
one character speaking to and then stepping aside for another character. However, between
Fragments, the connection is less obvious. Consequently, there are several possible orders;
the one most frequently seen in modern editions follows the numbering of the Fragments (ultimately
based on the Ellesmere order). Victorians frequently used the nine "Groups", which was
the order used by Walter William Skeat whose edition Chaucer: Complete Works was used by
Oxford University Press for most of the twentieth century, but this order is now seldom followed.
An alternative ordering (seen in an early manuscript containing the Canterbury Tales,
the early-fifteenth century Harley MS. 7334) places Fragment VIII before VI. Fragments
I and II almost always follow each other, as do VI and VII, IX and X in the oldest manuscripts.
Fragments IV and V, by contrast are located in varying locations from manuscript to manuscript.
Language Although no manuscript exists in Chaucer's
own hand, two were copied around the time of his death by Adam Pinkhurst, a scribe with
whom he seems to have worked closely before, giving a high degree of confidence that Chaucer
himself wrote the Tales. Chaucer's generation of English-speakers was among the last to
pronounce e at the end of words (so for Chaucer the word "care" was pronounced, not /ˈkɛər/
as in modern English). This meant that later copyists tended to be inconsistent in their
copying of final -e and this for many years gave scholars the impression that Chaucer
himself was inconsistent in using it. It has now been established, however, that -e was
an important part of Chaucer's morphology (having a role in distinguishing, for example,
singular adjectives from plural and subjunctive verbs from indicative). The pronunciation
of Chaucer's writing otherwise differs most prominently from Modern English in that his
language had not undergone the Great Vowel Shift: pronouncing Chaucer's vowels as they
would be pronounced today in European languages like Italian, Spanish or German generally
produces pronunciations more like Chaucer's own than Modern English pronunciation would.
In addition, sounds now written in English but not pronounced were still pronounced by
Chaucer: the word less than knightgreater than for Chaucer was, not. The pronunciation
of Chaucer's poetry can now be reconstructed fairly confidently through detailed philological
research; the following gives an IPA reconstruction of the opening lines of The Merchant's Prologue;
it is likely, moreover, that when a word ending in a vowel was followed by a word beginning
in a vowel, the two vowels were elided into one syllable, as seen here (with care and...):
Sources No other work prior to Chaucer's is known
to have set a collection of tales within the framework of pilgrims on a pilgrimage. It
is obvious, however, that Chaucer borrowed portions, sometimes very large portions, of
his stories from earlier stories, and that his work was influenced by the general state
of the literary world in which he lived. Storytelling was the main entertainment in England at the
time, and storytelling contests had been around for hundreds of years. In 14th-century England
the English Pui was a group with an appointed leader who would judge the songs of the group.
The winner received a crown and, as with the winner of the Canterbury Tales, a free dinner.
It was common for pilgrims on a pilgrimage to have a chosen "master of ceremonies" to
guide them and organise the journey. Harold Bloom suggests that the structure is mostly
original, but inspired by the "pilgrim" figures of Dante and Virgil in The Divine Comedy.
The Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio contains more parallels to the Canterbury Tales than
any other work. Like the Tales, it features a number of narrators who tell stories along
a journey they have undertaken (to flee from the Black Plague). It ends with an apology
by Boccaccio, much like Chaucer's Retraction to the Tales. A quarter of the tales in Canterbury
Tales parallel a tale in the Decameron, although most of them have closer parallels in other
stories. Some scholars thus find it unlikely that Chaucer had a copy of the work on hand,
surmising instead that he must have merely read the Decameron at some point. Each of
the tales has its own set of sources which have been suggested by scholars, but a few
sources are used frequently over several tales. These include poetry by Ovid, the Bible in
one of the many vulgate versions it was available in at the time (the exact one is difficult
to determine), and the works of Petrarch and Dante. Chaucer was the first author to utilise
the work of these last two, both Italians. Boethius' Consolation of Philosophy appears
in several tales, as do the works of John Gower, a known friend to Chaucer. A full list
is impossible to outline in little space, but Chaucer also, lastly, seems to have borrowed
from numerous religious encyclopaedias and liturgical writings, such as John Bromyard's
Summa praedicantium, a preacher's handbook, and Jerome's Adversus Jovinianum. Many scholars
say there is a good possibility Chaucer met Petrarch or Boccaccio.
Genre and structure Canterbury Tales is a collection of stories
built around a frame narrative or frame tale, a common and already long established genre
of its period. Chaucer's Tales differs from most other story "collections" in this genre
chiefly in its intense variation. Most story collections focused on a theme, usually a
religious one. Even in the Decameron, storytellers are encouraged to stick to the theme decided
on for the day. The idea of a pilgrimage to get such a diverse collection of people together
for literary purposes was also unprecedented, though "the association of pilgrims and storytelling
was a familiar one". Introducing a competition among the tales encourages the reader to compare
the tales in all their variety, and allows Chaucer to showcase the breadth of his skill
in different genres and literary forms. While the structure of the Tales is largely
linear, with one story following another, it is also much more than that. In the General
Prologue, Chaucer describes, not the tales to be told, but the people who will tell them,
making it clear that structure will depend on the characters rather than a general theme
or moral. This idea is reinforced when the Miller interrupts to tell his tale after the
Knight has finished his. Having the Knight go first, gives one the idea that all will
tell their stories by class, with the Knight going first, followed by the Monk, but the
Miller's interruption makes it clear that this structure will be abandoned in favour
of a free and open exchange of stories among all classes present. General themes and points
of view arise as tales are told which are responded to by other characters in their
own tales, sometimes after a long lapse in which the theme has not been addressed.
Lastly, Chaucer does not pay much attention to the progress of the trip, to the time passing
as the pilgrims travel, or specific locations along the way to Canterbury. His writing of
the story seems focused primarily on the stories being told, and not on the pilgrimage itself.
Style The variety of Chaucer's tales shows the breadth
of his skill and his familiarity with countless rhetorical forms and linguistic styles. Medieval
schools of rhetoric at the time encouraged such diversity, dividing literature (as Virgil
suggests) into high, middle, and low styles as measured by the density of rhetorical forms
and vocabulary. Another popular method of division came from St. Augustine, who focused
more on audience response and less on subject matter (a Virgilian concern). Augustine divided
literature into "majestic persuades", "temperate pleases", and "subdued teaches". Writers were
encouraged to write in a way that kept in mind the speaker, subject, audience, purpose,
manner, and occasion. Chaucer moves freely between all of these styles, showing favouritism
to none. He not only considers the readers of his work as an audience, but the other
pilgrims within the story as well, creating a multi-layered rhetorical puzzle of ambiguities.
Chaucer's work thus far surpasses the ability of any single medieval theory to uncover.
With this Chaucer avoids targeting any specific audience or social class of readers, focusing
instead on the characters of the story and writing their tales with a skill proportional
to their social status and learning. However, even the lowest characters, such as the Miller,
show surprising rhetorical ability, although their subject matter is more lowbrow. Vocabulary
also plays an important part, as those of the higher classes refer to a woman as a "lady",
while the lower classes use the word "wenche", with no exceptions. At times the same word
will mean entirely different things between classes. The word "pitee", for example, is
a noble concept to the upper classes, while in the Merchant's Tale it refers to sexual
intercourse. Again, however, tales such as the Nun's Priest's Tale show surprising skill
with words among the lower classes of the group, while the Knight's Tale is at times
extremely simple. Chaucer uses the same meter throughout almost
all of his tales, with the exception of Sir Thopas and his prose tales. It is a decasyllable
line, probably borrowed from French and Italian forms, with riding rhyme and, occasionally,
a caesura in the middle of a line. His meter would later develop into the heroic meter
of the 15th and 16th centuries and is an ancestor of iambic pentameter. He avoids allowing couplets
to become too prominent in the poem, and four of the tales (the Man of Law's, Clerk's, Prioress',
and Second Nun's) use rhyme royal. Historical context and themes
The Canterbury Tales was written during a turbulent time in English history. The Catholic
Church was in the midst of the Western Schism and, though it was still the only Christian
authority in Europe, was the subject of heavy controversy. Lollardy, an early English religious
movement led by John Wycliffe, is mentioned in the Tales, as is a specific incident involving
pardoners (who gathered money in exchange for absolution from sin) who nefariously claimed
to be collecting for St. Mary Rouncesval hospital in England. The Canterbury Tales is among
the first English literary works to mention paper, a relatively new invention which allowed
dissemination of the written word never before seen in England. Political clashes, such as
the 1381 Peasants' Revolt and clashes ending in the deposing of King Richard II, further
reveal the complex turmoil surrounding Chaucer in the time of the Tales' writing. Many of
his close friends were executed and he himself was forced to move to Kent to get away from
events in London. In 2004, Professor Linne Mooney was able to
identify the scrivener who worked for Chaucer as an Adam Pinkhurst. Mooney, then a professor
at the University of Maine and a visiting fellow at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge,
was able to match Pinkhurst's signature, on an oath he signed, to his lettering on a copy
of The Canterbury Tales that was transcribed from Chaucer's working copy. While some readers
look to interpret the characters of "The Canterbury Tales" as historical figures, other readers
choose to interpret its significance in less literal terms. After analysis of his diction
and historical context, his work appears to develop a critique against society during
his lifetime. Within a number of his descriptions, his comments can appear complimentary in nature,
but through clever language, the statements are ultimately critical of the pilgrim's actions.
It is unclear whether Chaucer would intend for the reader to link his characters with
actual persons. Instead, it appears that Chaucer creates fictional characters to be general
representations of people in such fields of work. With an understanding of medieval society,
one can detect subtle satire at work. Religion
The Tales reflect diverse views of the Church in Chaucer's England. After the Black Death,
many Europeans began to question the authority of the established Church. Some turned to
lollardy, while others chose less extreme paths, starting new monastic orders or smaller
movements exposing church corruption in the behaviour of the clergy, false church relics
or abuse of indulgences. Several characters in the Tales are religious figures, and the
very setting of the pilgrimage to Canterbury is religious (although the prologue comments
ironically on its merely seasonal attractions), making religion a significant theme of the
work. Two characters, the Pardoner and the Summoner,
whose roles apply the church's secular power, are both portrayed as deeply corrupt, greedy,
and abusive. A pardoner in Chaucer's day was a person from whom one bought Church "indulgences"
for forgiveness of sins, but pardoners were often thought guilty of abusing their office
for their own gain. Chaucer's Pardoner openly admits the corruption of his practice while
hawking his wares. The Summoner is a Church officer who brought sinners to the church
court for possible excommunication and other penalties. Corrupt summoners would write false
citations and frighten people into bribing them to protect their interests. Chaucer's
Summoner is portrayed as guilty of the very kinds of sins he is threatening to bring others
to court for, and is hinted as having a corrupt relationship with the Pardoner. In The Friar's
Tale, one of the characters is a summoner who is shown to be working on the side of
the devil, not God. Churchmen of various kinds are represented
by the Monk, the Prioress, the Nun's Priest, and the Second Nun. Monastic orders, which
originated from a desire to follow an ascetic lifestyle separated from the world, had by
Chaucer's time become increasingly entangled in worldly matters. Monasteries frequently
controlled huge tracts of land on which they made significant sums of money, while peasants
worked in their employ. The Second Nun is an example of what a Nun was expected to be:
her tale is about a woman whose chaste example brings people into the church. The Monk and
the Prioress, on the other hand, while not as corrupt as the Summoner or Pardoner, fall
far short of the ideal for their orders. Both are expensively dressed, show signs of lives
of luxury and flirtatiousness and show a lack of spiritual depth. The Prioress's Tale is
an account of Jews murdering a deeply pious and innocent Christian boy, a blood libel
against Jews which became a part of English literary tradition. The story did not originate
in the works of Chaucer and was well known in the 14th century.
Pilgrimage was a very prominent feature of medieval society. The ultimate pilgrimage
destination was Jerusalem, but within England Canterbury was a popular destination. Pilgrims
would journey to cathedrals that preserved relics of saints, believing that such relics
held miraculous powers. Saint Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, had been murdered
in Canterbury Cathedral by knights of Henry II during a disagreement between Church and
Crown. Miracle stories connected to his remains sprang up soon after his death, and the cathedral
became a popular pilgrimage destination. The pilgrimage in the work ties all of the stories
together, and may be considered a representation of Christians' striving for heaven, despite
weaknesses, disagreement, and diversity of opinion.
Social class and convention The upper class or nobility, represented chiefly
by the Knight and his Squire, was in Chaucer's time steeped in a culture of chivalry and
courtliness. Nobles were expected to be powerful warriors who could be ruthless on the battlefield,
yet mannerly in the King's Court and Christian in their actions. Knights were expected to
form a strong social bond with the men who fought alongside them, but an even stronger
bond with a woman whom they idealised to strengthen their fighting ability. Though the aim of
chivalry was to noble action, often its conflicting values degenerated into violence. Church leaders
often tried to place restrictions on jousts and tournaments, which at times ended in the
death of the loser. The Knight's Tale shows how the brotherly love of two fellow knights
turns into a deadly feud at the sight of a woman whom both idealise, with both knights
willing to fight the other to the death to win her. Chivalry was in Chaucer's day on
the decline, and it is possible that The Knight's Tale was intended to show its flaws, although
this is disputed. Chaucer himself had fought in the Hundred Years' War under Edward III,
who heavily emphasised chivalry during his reign. Two tales, Sir Topas and The Tale of
Melibee are told by Chaucer himself, who is travelling with the pilgrims in his own story.
Both tales seem to focus on the ill-effects of chivalry—the first making fun of chivalric
rules and the second warning against violence. The Tales constantly reflect the conflict
between classes. For example, the division of the three estates; the characters are all
divided into three distinct classes, the classes being "those who pray" (the clergy), "those
who fight" (the nobility), and "those who work" (the commoners and peasantry). Most
of the tales are interlinked by common themes, and some "quit" (reply to or retaliate against)
other tales. Convention is followed when the Knight begins the game with a tale, as he
represents the highest social class in the group. But when he is followed by the Miller,
who represents a lower class, it sets the stage for the Tales to reflect both a respect
for and a disregard for upper class rules. Helen Cooper, as well as Mikhail Bakhtin and
Derek Brewer, call this opposition "the ordered and the grotesque, Lent and Carnival, officially
approved culture and its riotous, and high-spirited underside." Several works of the time contained
the same opposition. Relativism versus realism
Chaucer's characters each express different—sometimes vastly different—views of reality, creating
an atmosphere of relativism. As Helen Cooper says, "Different genres give different readings
of the world: the fabliau scarcely notices the operations of God, the saint's life focuses
on those at the expense of physical reality, tracts and sermons insist on prudential or
orthodox morality, romances privilege human emotion." The sheer number of varying persons
and stories renders the Tales as a set unable to arrive at any definite truth or reality.
Influence on literature 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. It is interesting to note that, although Chaucer had a powerful influence
in poetic and artistic terms, which can be seen in the great number of forgeries and
mistaken attributions (such as The Flower and the Leaf which was translated by John
Dryden), modern English spelling and orthography owes much more to the innovations made by
the Court of Chancery in the decades during and after his lifetime.
Reception 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 1368), the intended audience of The Canterbury
Tales is more difficult to determine. 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 "best-seller" status. Even the most elegant of the illustrated
manuscripts, however, is not nearly as decorated and fancified as the work of authors of more
respectable works such as John Lydgate's religious and historical literature.
15th century 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. This sentiment
was universally agreed upon by later critics into the mid-15th century. Glosses included
in 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.
Literary additions and supplements 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. These emendations included various
expansions of the Cook's Tale, which Chaucer never finished, The Plowman's Tale, The Tale
of Gamelyn, the Siege of Thebes, and the Tale of Beryn.
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. 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. The tale comes from the French
tale Bérinus and exists in a single early manuscript of the tales, although it was printed
along with the tales in a 1721 edition by John Urry.
John Lydgate wrote The Siege of Thebes in about 1420. 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 1561 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 7334, 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 1340 to
1370. Literary adaptations
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. Evolutionary biologist
Richard Dawkins used The Canterbury Tales as a structure for his 2004 non-fiction book
about evolution titled The Ancestor's Tale: A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Evolution. 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.C. Doherty wrote a series of novels based on The Canterbury
Tales, making use of the story frame and of 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
backcountry ski cabin in British Columbia in the 2011 novel The Canterbury Trail.
Adaptations and homages The Two Noble Kinsmen, by William Shakespeare
and John Fletcher, a retelling of "The Knight's Tale", was first performed in 1613 or 1614
and published in 1634. In 1961, Erik Chisholm completed his opera, The Canterbury Tales.
The opera is in three acts: The Wyf of Bath’s Tale, The Pardoner’s Tale and The Nun’s
Priest’s Tale. Nevill Coghill's modern English version formed the basis of a musical version
– first staged in 1964. A Canterbury Tale, a 1944 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, are making their way to Canterbury together. 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 1972 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.
The film includes these two tales as well as the Miller's Tale, the Summoner's Tale,
the Wife of Bath's Tale, and the Merchant's Tale.
On April 26, 1986, American radio personality Garrison Keillor opened "The News from Lake
Wobegon" portion of the first live TV broadcast of his A Prairie Home Companion radio show
with a reading of the original Middle English text of the General Prologue. He commented,
"Although those words were written more than 600 years ago, they still describe spring."
English rock musician Sting paid tribute to Chaucer and the book with his 1993 concept
album Ten Summoner's Tales, which he described as ten songs (plus an epilogue number) with
no theme or subject tying them together. Sting's real name is Gordon Sumner, hence the reference
to the "Summoner" character in the record's title. In essence, the collection of songs
was composed as "a musical Canterbury Tales". Several more recent films, while they are
not based on the tales, do have references to them. For example, in the 1995 film Se7en,
the Parson's Tale is an important clue to the methods of a serial killer who chooses
his victims based on the seven deadly sins. The 2001 film A Knight's Tale took its name
from "The Knight's Tale". Although it bears little resemblance to the tale, it does feature
what Martha Driver and Sid Ray call an "MTV-generation" Chaucer who is a gambling addict with a way
with words. Scattered references to the Tales include Chaucer's declaration that he will
use his verse to vilify a summoner and a pardoner who have cheated him.
Television adaptations include Alan Plater's 1975 re-telling of the stories in a series
of plays for BBC2: Trinity Tales. In 2004, BBC again featured modern re-tellings of selected
tales. Notes
^ Carlson, David. "The Chronology of Lydgate's Chaucer References". The Chaucer Review, Vol.
38, No. 3 (2004), pp. 246-254. Accessed 6 January 2014.
^ The name "Tales of Caunterbury" appears within the surviving texts of Chaucer's work.
Its modern name first appeared as Canterbury talys in John Lydgate's prologue to the Siege
of Thebes. ^ a b Pearsall, 8.
^ Cooper, 6—7 ^ Pearsall, 10, 17.
^ Cooper, 8. ^ a b c Cooper, 7
^ Pearsall, 14–15. ^ Linne R. Mooney, "Chaucer’s Scribe", Speculum,
81 (2006), 97–138. ^ e.g. Ian Robinson, Chaucer's Prosody: A
Study of the Middle English Verse Tradition (London: Cambridge University Press, 1971).
^ Seminal studies included M. L. Samuels, "Chaucerian Final '-e'", Notes and Queries,
19 (1972), 445–48, and D. Burnley, "Inflection in Chaucer's Adjectives", Neuphilologische
Mitteilungen, 83 (1982), 169–77. ^ Text from The Riverside Chaucer, ed. by
Larry D. Benson, 3rd edn (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987), p. 153.
^ Based on the information in Norman Davies, "Language and Versification", in The Riverside
Chaucer, ed. by Larry D. Benson, 3rd edn (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987), pp. xxv–xli.
^ Cooper, p. 10. ^ Bloom, Harold (11 November 2009). "Road
Trip". New York Times. Retrieved 9 September 2013.
^ Cooper, pp. 10–11. ^ Cooper, pp. 12–16.
^ Brewer, p. 227. Although Chaucer undoubtedly studied the works of these celebrated writers,
and particularly of Dante before this fortunate interview; yet it seems likely, that these
excursions gave him a new relish for their compositions, and enlarged his knowledge of
the Italian fables. ^ Brewer, p. 277....where he became thoroughly
inbued with the spirit and excellence of the great Italian poets and prose-writers: Dante,
Petrarch, Boccaccio; and is said to have had a personal contact interview with one of these,
Petrarch. ^ Hendrickson, pp. 183–192. Professor G.
L. Hendrickson of the University of Chicago gives a detailed analysis as to Chaucer coming
in contact with Petrarch. ^ Rearden, p. 458. There can be no moral doubt
but that Chaucer knew Petrarch personally. They were both in France many times, where
they might have met. They were both courtiers. They both had an enthusiasm for scholarship.
Whether they met then, or whether Chaucer, when on his visit to Genoa, specially visited
the Italian, it does not appear....but the only reason that such a visit could not have
occurred lies in the fact that Petrarch himself does not record it. Still, on the other hand,
would he have mentioned the visit of a man who was the servant of a barbarous monarch,
and whose only claim to notice, literary-wise, was his cultivation of an unknown and uncouth
dialect that was half bastard French? ^ Skeat (1874), p. xxx. And we know that Petrarch,
on his own shewing, was so pleased with the story of Griselda that he learnt it by heart
as well as he could, for the express purpose of repeating it to friends, before the idea
of turning it into Latin occurred to him. Whence we may conclude that Chaucer and Petrarch
met at Padua early in 1373; that Petrarch told Chaucer the story by word of mouth, either
in Italian or French; and that Chaucer shortly after obtained a copy of Petrarch's Latin
version, which he kept constantly before him whilst making his own translation.
^ "Sources and Analogues of the Canterbury Tales", 2002, p. 22.
^ Cooper, 8–9. ^ Cooper, 17–18.
^ Cooper, 18. ^ Cooper, 22–24.
^ Cooper, 24–25. ^ Cooper, 25–26.
^ Cooper, 5–6. ^ Linne R. Mooney (2006), "Chaucer's Scribe,"
Speculum, 81 : 97–138. ^ Donald R. Howard, Chaucer and the Medieval
World (London, 1987), pp. 410-417. ^ Bisson, pp. 49–51, 56–62.
^ Bisson, pp. 50. ^ Bisson, pp. 61–64.
^ Bisson, pp. 66–67. ^ Bisson, pp. 67–68.
^ Bisson, pp. 73–75, 81. ^ Bisson, pp. 91–95.
^ Rubin, 106–107. ^ "The Prioress's Tale", by Prof. Jane Zatta.
^ Bisson, pp. 99–102. ^ Bisson, pp. 110–113.
^ Bisson, pp. 117–119. ^ Bisson, pp. 123–131.
^ Bisson, pp. 132–134. ^ Bisson, pp. 139–142.
^ Bisson, pp. 138. ^ Bisson, pp. 141–142.
^ Bisson, pp. 143. ^ a b Cooper, 19
^ Cooper, 21. ^ Pearsall, 294-5.
^ Pearsall, 295-97. ^ Pearsall, 298–302.
^ Trigg, Stephanie, Congenial Souls: Reading Chaucer from Medieval to Postmodern, Minneapolis:
University of Minnesota Press, 2002, p. 86. ISBN 0-8166-3823-3.
^ Trigg, pp. 86–88, 97. ^ Trigg, pp. 88–97.
^ Brewer, Charlotte, Editing Piers Plowman: The Evolution of the Text, Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 1996, pp. 8–9. ISBN 0-521-34250-3. ^ Ohlgren, Thomas, Medieval Outlaws, Parlor
Press, 2005, pp. 264–265. ISBN 1-932559-62-0. ^ Ellis, Steve, Chaucer at Large, Minneapolis:
University of Minnesota Press, 2000, pp. 64–65. ISBN 0-8166-3376-2.
^ Pencak, William, The Films of Derek Jarman, Jefferson: McFarland & Co, 2002, pp. 178–9. ISBN 0-7864-1430-8.
^ Bignell, Jonathan, Postmodern Media Culture, Aakar Books, 2007. ISBN 81-89833-16-2 pp.
93–94. ^ Rosenbaum, Jonathan et al, The Medieval
Hero on Screen, Jefferson: McFarland, 2004, pp. 202–203. ISBN 0-7864-1926-1.
^ "BBC – Drama – Canterbury Tales". BBC Drama article about the series. Retrieved
6 May 2007. ^ "On These Walls: Inscriptions and Quotations
in the Buildings of the Library of Congress". Retrieved 31 December 2012.
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《坎特伯里故事集》分析(43分) (The Canterbury Tales)

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