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The Canterbury Tales (1387-1400) . by Geoffrey Chaucer. Introduction of Geoffrey Chaucer Introduction of the Canterbury Tales Analysis of this work Contribution by the author. GEOFFERY CHAUCER. Geoffrey Chaucer (1340?-1400).

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The Canterbury Tales (1387-1400)

by Geoffrey Chaucer

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Geoffrey Chaucer (1340?-1400)

  • An English author, poet, philosopher, bureaucrat, courtier and diploma

  • One of the greatest narrative poet of English

  • Father of the English poetry, who made a crucial contribution to English literature in using English at a time when much court poetry was still written in Anglo-Norman or Latin.

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Course of Chaucer’s Life

  • In 1357, he served as a page to Elizabeth, Countess of Ulster, from which he learned the ways of court and the use of arms.

  • In 1359–1360 he was with the army of Edward III in France, where he was captured by the French but ransomed.

  • In 1373 Chaucer traveled to Picardy as part of a military expedition, and visited Genoa and Florence.

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  • In 1378, Richard II sent Chaucer as an envoy dispatch to the Visconti and to Sir John Hawkwood, English condottiere in Milan.

  • From 1374 on he held a number of official positions, among them comptroller of customs on furs, skins, and hides for the port of London (1374–1386) and clerk of the king's works (1389–1391).

  • Chaucer dead on Oct. 25, 1400. He was buried in Westminster Abbey (an honor for a commoner), in what has since become the Poets' Corner.

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His Works based largely on French models.

The Canterbury Tales 《坎特伯雷故事集》

Book of the Duchess 《公爵夫人之书》

The House of Fame 《声誉之宫》

The Parliament of Fowles 《百鸟会议》

The Legend of Good Women 《贤妇传说》

Troilus and Criseyde 《特洛伊罗斯与克丽西达》

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The Canterbury Tales based largely on French models.-----one of the most famous works in all literature----

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General Prologue( based largely on French models.总序)Ⅰ ----outline of the story

  • on a spring evening, the poet drops in the Tabard Inn(塔巴尔德旅店), where he meets 29 other pilgrims(香客) all ready for a journey of 60 miles to Canterbury.

  • Because of the long and tedious(乏味单调的) journey, the host of the Inn suggests that they should color the journey by telling stories. And the best story-teller should be treated with a fine meal at the cost of all the rest.

  • The pilgrims are 30 in all including the poet. Therefore according to the plan, there should have been 120 stories altogether. But only 24 tales were written due to the author’s death in 1400.

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General Prologue( based largely on French models.总序)Ⅱ

However, incomplete as these stories are, they cover practically the whole major literary genres(文学体裁) in medieval Europe(中世纪欧洲),such as:


folk tales(民间故事),


legendary epic sagas(传奇英雄史诗),

beast fables(动物寓言),


moral allegories(伦理故事), etc.

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Function of General Prologue based largely on French models.

1. Present a vivid collection of character sketches.

2. Reveal the author’ s intention in bringing together a great variety of people and narrative material together.

3. Set the tone for the story-telling:

  • grateful acceptance of life;

  • make clear the plan for the tales;

  • motivate the telling of several tales ;

  • introduce the pilgrims , the time and occasion of the pilgrimage(朝圣).

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Features of “The Canterbury Tales” based largely on French models.

It covers a wide range of characters from top to bottom in the England of that time.

For example:

  • The gentle class:

  • knight

  • squire(侍从)

  • monk

  • prioress(女修道院院长)

  • franklins(地主、乡绅)

  • The burgher(市民、公民)class:

  • merchant

  • haberdasher(杂货商人)

  • carpenter

  • weaver(纺织工)

  • tapestry-maker(花毯纺织工)

  • .

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Analysis of This Work based largely on French models.

  • Sources

  • Genre and structure

  • Style Historical context and themes


    Social class and convention

  • Stage and film adaptations

  • Influence

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Sources based largely on French models.

No other work prior to Chaucer's is known to have set a collection of tales within the framework of pilgrims on a pilgrimage.However,Chaucer borrowed 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. The winner received a crown and, as with the winner of the Canterbury Tales, a free dinner.

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Genre and Structure based largely on French models.

  • Canterbury Tales falls into the same category or genre as many other works of its day as a collection of stories organized into a frame narrative or frame tale. Chaucer's Tales differed from other stories 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 appears to have been a useful device to get such a diverse collection of people together for literary purposes, and was also unprecedented.

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Style: based largely on French models.Historical context and themes

  • The time of the writing of The Canterbury Tales was a turbulent time in English history. The Catholic Church was in the midst of the Great Schism and, though it was still the only Christian authority in Europe, was the subject of heavy controversy. Anearly English religious movement led by John, is mentioned in the Tales, as is a specific incident involving pardoners (who gathered money in exchange for absolution from sin) who claimed to be collecting for 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.

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Style: Religion based largely on French models.

  • The Tales reflect all kinds of religious world of Chaucer's time. After the Black Death, many Europeans had begun to question the authority of the Catholic Church in various ways. Some chose less extreme paths, starting new monastic orders or smaller movements exposing church corruption in the behavior of the clergy, false church relics or sale of indulgences (payment for forgiveness of sins).Several characters in the Tales are religious figures, and the very nature of the pilgrimage to Canterbury is deeply religious, making this a outstanding theme of the work.

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Style: Social class and convention based largely on French models.

  • The Tales constantly reflect the conflict between classes. 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.

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Stage and film adaptations based largely on French models.

  • 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.

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The social significance based largely on French models.

  • Chaucer gives us a true-to-life picture of the society of his time. He affirms man and opposes the dogma of asceticism(教条禁欲主义)preached(讲道)by the church.

  • As a forerunner of humanism, he praises man’s energy, intellect, wit and love of life. His tales expose and satirize the evils of his time.

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Contribution by the author based largely on French models.

Chaucer’s poetry is plainly narrative . Everything is based on reality .Chaucer’s language ,now called Middle English ,is vivid and exact . He is a master of word –pictures. His verse is among the smoothest in English . Hardly a single word will offer difficulties to a man of sufficient reading in modern English . Repetition with variation is redundant .

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  • Chaucer’s contribution to English poetry lies chiefly to the fact that he introduced from France the rhymed(押韵的) stanzas(诗节、段) of various types, especially the rhymed couplet(对句) of iambic pentameter(五步格诗) (to be called later the “heroic couplet”) to English poetry , instead of the old Anglo-Saxon alliterative verse(押头韵诗).

  • .

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  • He is the first great poet who wrote in current English language . Chaucer did much in making the dialect of London the foundation for modern English speech. His various writing style reflected the life of different social classes . He create the realism tradition of English literature ,which influenced Shakespeare and Dickens a lot.