Originally writing over 600 years ago, Geoffrey Chaucer is today enjoying a
global renaissance. Why do poets, translators, and audiences from so many
cultures, from the mountains of Iran to the islands of Japan, find Chaucer
so inspiring? In part this is down to the character and sheer inventiveness
of Chaucer's work. At the time Chaucer's writings were not just literary
adventures, but also a means of convincing the world that poetry and
science, tragedy and astrology, could all be explored through the English
language. French was still England's aristocratic language of choice when
Chaucer was born; Latin was used for university education, theological
discussion, and for burying the dead. Could a hybrid tongue such as English
ever generate great writing to compare with French and Latin? Chaucer,
miraculously, believed that it could, through gradual expansion of
expressiveness and scientific precision. He was never paid to do this; he
was valued, rather, as a capable civil servant, regulating the export of
wool and the building of seating for royal tournaments. Such experiences,
however, fed his writing, leading him to achieve a range of social
registers, from noble tragedy to barnyard farce, unrivalled for centuries.
His tale-telling geography is vast, his fascination with varieties of
religious belief endless, and his desire to voice female experience
especially remarkable. Many Chaucerian poets and performers, today, are
women. In this Very Short Introduction David Wallace introduces the life,
performance, and poetry of Chaucer, and analyses his astonishing and
enduring appeal. Previously published in hardback as Geoffrey Chaucer: A
New Introduction ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from
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David Wallace—Geoffrey Chaucer

  • 9780198767718