Geoffrey Chaucer: A New Introduction
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 Italian? 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, achieving 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 book David Wallace introduces the life, performance, and poetry of Chaucer, and analyses his astonishing and enduring appeal.
Showing a solid command of history, Wallace provides fascinating analyses of Chaucer's personal and literary evolution. He is a master of his subject, insightful and provocative throughout. (Kirkus Review)a thoroughly fresh engagement...which gives us Chaucer as a writer of his moment wide open to the future and the world. (Paul Strohm, author of The Poet's Tale)Along with its other mind-broadening features, this introduction offers a timely reminder that Chaucer benefited from a Europe-wide perspective and continues to evoke creative responses across cultures and borders. (Nicholas Havely, University of York)
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