The Canterbury Tales


This winter I am participating in an alumni studies program to discuss Geoffrey Chaucer’s ‘The Canterbury Tales’ with Professor Fleming (Princeton). The lectures are audio recordings from the Fall 2005 semester, which was Professor Fleming’s last semester teaching this course.

My life slogan is ‘continued learning’ and the internet has redefined adult education/independent studies. Ten years ago I wouldn’t have thought I could attend a class led by a Princeton professor via conference calls and the internet.

The class started this week with over 250 people attending, two lectures a week and links to the lectures (podcasts) on the internet. Simply amazing!

So today I start reading ‘The Caterbury Tales’, for the first time.

A little about Geoffrey Chaucer: (c. 1343 – 25 October 1400?) was an English author, poet, philosopher, bureaucrat, courtier and diplomat. Although he wrote many works, he is best remembered for his unfinished frame narrative The Canterbury Tales. Sometimes called the father of English literature, Chaucer is credited by some scholars as the first author to demonstrate the artistic legitimacy of the vernacular English language, rather than French or Latin.
Geoffrey Chaucer wrote The Canterbury Tales: which is a collection of stories in a book written between 1387 and 1400. It is the story of a group of thirty people who travel as pilgrims to Canterbury (England). The pilgrims, who come from all layers of society, tell stories to each other to kill time while they travel to Canterbury to visit the shrine of Saint Thomas Becket at Canterbury Cathedral. The Canterbury Tales are written in Middle English. .Chaucer intended that each pilgrim should tell two tales on the way to Canterbury and two tales on the way back. He never finished his enormous project and even the completed tales were not finally revised. Scholars are uncertain about the order of the tales. As the printing press had yet to be invented when Chaucer wrote his works, The Canterbury Tales has been passed down in several handwritten manuscripts.

2 comments

  1. Good luck! I tried helping my daughter through the Canterbury Tales when she had to read it in Brit Lit and it almost killed both of us!

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  2. Great tales which ask philosophical questions about free will and truth. Read one "tale" at a time, otherwise it can be overwhleming.
    Peter

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