G. Chaucer - The Canterbury Tales

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Autor: janka
Typ práce: Referát
Dátum: 20.09.2008
Jazyk: Angličtina
Rozsah: 595 slov
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Geoffrey Chaucer was born maybe in 1340 in London and died in 1400 in London too, but he was buried in Westminster Abbey in the part which has been known as Poet’s Corner since the late 16th century. Chaucer is the first great poet of the English nation and the greatest English poet of the Middle Ages. His masterpiece The Canterbury Tales is one of the best poetic works in English.

Chaucer was also a courtier, a soldier and a scholar interested in astronomy, mathematics, medicine, psychology, and other natural sciences. His hobby was reading; he is said to have been able to quot (citovat) from almost every book in the Bible. He spoke French, Latin and Italian. There is a little agreement among Chaucer’s biographers about some of the periods in his life and the dates when his poems were written. There is even no evidence to prove the year of his birth. Some sources give the year 1342, others 1343, 1344 or 1345. The only fact which can be taken for certain is that it was before 1346.

Geoffrey Chaucer was the son of a wealthy man in London. He was well educated. he most probably went to St. Paul’s Cathedral School and then, when he became a page in the household of the wife of Lionel, third son of King Edward III., his education not only continued, but was intensified. With young Geoffrey’s service to the Countess (hraběnka) of Ulster, his career as a courtier started. In the course of his life, he was in the service of three kings: Edward III., Richard II. and Henry IV. His best patron and lifelong friend was John of Gaunt, the fourth son of Henry IV.

In 1359, Chaucer fought in France; in 70th years of the 15th century he conducted diplomatic missions to Italy. Both countries became a  strong influence on his poetry. When in Italy, he may have visited Petrarch, the most famous living poet of the time. Chaucer also knew some of Boccaccio’s poems, the influence of which becomes unquestionable when reading his Troilus and Criseyde and The Knight’s Tale, one of The Canterbury Tales. The unfinished Canterbury Tales is Chaucer’s most famous work. It’s a complex of tales, unique for its realism, humour and variety.

In the 14th century, going on a pilgrimage to the shrine of saint became a popular activity. Chaucer uses one such pilgrimage as the setting for his Canterbury Tales. He brings together thirty pilgrims, all from varied occupations and walks of life. They meet at the Tabard Inn at Southwark, on the other side of Thames from London, to set off on a pilgrimage to the shrine of Saint Thomas Becket in Canterbury.

Before they start, the innkeeper suggests that they all take part in a story-telling contest in order to make the journey pass more quickly. It’s agreed that each pilgrim will tell two stories on the journey to Canterbury, and another two on the way back. The prize for the best storyteller will be a supper at the Tabard Inn, paid for by all the rest of the group! Such a plan allowed for a potential one hundred and twenty stories, but in fact Chaucer completed only twenty-two.

The book opens with the General Prologue in which Chaucer gives a description of each of his pilgrims. Together their characters give us a wide view of human nature and a good insight into the life of medieval England. Chaucer was writing this book for fourtheen years. He influenced a lot of modern authors.
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