The year of the millennium marks the 600th anniversary of the death of Geoffrey Chaucer. This first, and some would say greatest, poet of the English language stands before the gateway of the early modern age. He lived at a time when the elite languages of former conquerors, French and Latin, were both giving way to English - no longer just the vernacular of the common people, but increasingly the language of the court, the law and of literature. This biography charts the life of an extraordinary man, whose own character has always puzzled lovers of his comic masterpiece, "The Canterbury Tales". How did he remain so apparently cheerful and serene through one of the darkest eras of history? As a child he survived the Black Death. Later he fought in France during the Hundred Years War, served as a diplomat in Italy, and became an MP at the angry beginnings of the Protestant Reformation, the Peasants' Revolt and the overthrow and murder of Richard II.
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Richard West is a journalist and writer who contributes regularly to The Times Literary Supplement and the Spectator. He has written many books, including a much-admired biography of Daniel Defoe, and is married to the writer Mary Kenny.From Booklist:
West's biography of the first great English poet whose name we know quite resembles his Life and Strange, Surprising Adventures of Daniel Defoe (1998). Its overall strategy is to discuss the history surrounding its subject's achievements and those achievements in tandem with tracing the events of his life. It differs markedly, though, from West's account of the first modern English novelist, because, at the distance of 600 years from Chaucer's death, nearly no records exist of any strange, surprising adventures on his part. Undismayed, West raids the historical and critical literature and polishes his own sensible opinions about Chaucer's writings to produce a book every bit as readable and fascinating as his life of Defoe. Individual chapters take up such matters as the Black Death's impact on the anti-Semitism evident in the Prioress's Tale ; why Europe quickly forgot the Black Death; how the thirteenth-century French poem Roman de la Rose and the great Florentine poets Dante, Petrarch, and Boccaccio influenced Chaucer; the impact of the great English Peasants' Revolt of 1381 on Chaucer's worldview; how Troilus and Criseyde anticipates the modern novel; how to read the lengthy Knight's Tale , the boring bane of generations of students, as a satire; and the interpretation of the Wife of Bath as a feminist. A treat for English history and literature buffs who prefer journalistically vital prose to the stodgy varieties usually used to rebury England's liveliest bard. Ray Olson
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Book Description Constable, 2000. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 94794103
Book Description Constable, 2000. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 0094794103