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Embeds 0 No embeds. No notes for slide. While he achieved fame during his lifetime as an author, philosopher, alchemist and astronomer, composing a scientific treatise on the astrolabe for his ten year-old son Lewis, Chaucer also maintained an activecareerin thecivil service asabureaucrat,courtieranddiplomat.
Chaucer is a crucial figure in developing the legitimacy of the vernacular, Middle English, at a time when the dominant literary languages in England were French and Latin. His father and grandfather were both London vintners; several previous generations had been merchants in Ipswich.
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His family name derives from the French chausseur, meaning "shoemaker". John Chaucer married Agnes Copton, who, in , inherited properties including 24 shops in London from her uncle, Hamo de Copton, who is described in a will dated 3 April and listed in the City Hustings Roll as "moneyer"; he was said to be moneyer at the Tower of London. While records concerning the lives of his contemporary poets, William Langland and the Pearl Poet are practically non-existent, since Chaucer was a public servant, his official life is very well documented, with nearly five hundred written items testifying to his career.
The first of the "Chaucer Life Records" appears in , in the household accounts of Elizabeth de Burgh, the Countess of Ulster, when he became the noblewoman's page through his father's connections. She was married to Lionel, Duke of Clarence, the second surviving son of the king, Edward III, and the position brought the teenage Chaucer into the close court circle,wherehewasto remainforthe rest of his life.
He also worked as a courtier, a diplomat, and a civil servant, as well as working for the king, collecting and inventorying scrap metal. In , he was captured during the siege of Rheims. Chaucer probably studied law in the Inner Temple an Inn of Court at this time. He became a member of the royal court of Edward III as a varlet de chambre, yeoman, or esquire on 20 June , a position which could entail a wide variety of tasks.
His wife also received a pension for court employment. He travelled abroad many times, at least some of them in his role as a valet. Two other literary stars of the era were in attendance: Jean Froissart and Petrarch.
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Around this time, Chaucer is believed to have written The Book of the Duchess in honour of Blanche of Lancaster, the late wife of John of Gaunt, who diedin A possible indication that his career as a writer was appreciated came when Edward III granted Chaucer "a gallon of wine daily for the rest of his life" for some unspecified task.
This was an unusual grant, but given on a day of celebration, St George's Day, , when artistic endeavours were traditionally rewarded, it is assumed to have been another early poetic work. It is not known which, if any, of Chaucer's extant works prompted the reward, but the suggestion of him as poet to a king places him as a precursor to later poets laureate.
Chaucer continued to collect the liquid stipend until Richard II came to power, after which it was converted to a monetary grant on 18 April Chaucer's first major work, The Book of the Duchess, was an elegy for Blanche of Lancaster who died in This would seem to place the writing of The Book of the Duchess between the years and Chaucer wrote many of his major works in a prolific period when he held the job of customs comptroller for London to Also it is believed that he started work on The Canterbury Tales in the early s.
Chaucer is best known as the writer of The Canterbury Tales, which is a collection of stories told by fictional pilgrims on the road to the cathedral at Canterbury; these tales would help to shape English literature. Chaucer's works are sometimes grouped into first a French period, then an Italian period and finally an English period, with Chaucer being influenced by those countries' literatures in turn.
Certainly Troilus and Criseyde is a middle period work with its reliance on the forms of Italian poetry, little known in England at the time, but to which Chaucer was probably exposed during his frequent trips abroad oncourtbusiness.
One other significant work of Chaucer's is his Treatise on the Astrolabe, possibly for his own son, that describes the form and use of that instrument in detail and is sometimes cited as the first example of technical writing in the English language. Although much of the text may have come from other sources, the treatise indicates that Chaucer was versed in science in addition to his literary talents. Another scientific work discovered in , Equatorie of the Planetis, has similar language and handwriting compared to some considered to be Chaucer's and it continues many of the ideas from the Astrolabe.
Furthermore, it contains an example of early European encryption. Chaucer is sometimes considered the source of the English vernacular tradition. His achievement for the language can be seen as part of a general historical trend towards the creation of a vernacular literature, after the example of Dante, in many parts of Europe. A parallel trend in Chaucer's own lifetime was underway in Scotland through the work of his slightly earlier contemporary, John Barbour, and was likely to have been even more general, as is evidenced by the example of the Pearl Poet in the north of England.
In the 16th and 17th centuries, Chaucer was printed more than any other English author, and he was the first author to have his works collected in comprehensive single-volume editions in which a Chaucer canon began to cohere. Some scholars contend that 16th- century editions of Chaucer's Works set the precedent for all other English authors in terms of presentation, prestige and success in print.
These editions certainly established Chaucer's reputation, but they also began the complicated process of reconstructing and frequently inventing Chaucer's biography and the canonical list of works which wereattributed to him. About Canterbury Tales The Canterbury Tales is at once one of the most famous and most frustrating works of literature ever written.
Since its composition in late s, critics have continued to mine new riches from its complex ground, and started new arguments about the textand itsinterpretation. It is both one long narrative of the pilgrims and their pilgrimage and an encyclopedia of shorter narratives; it is both one large drama, and a compilation of most literary forms known to medieval literature: romance, fabliau, Breton lay, moral fable, verseromance, beastfable,prayer to theVirgin…and sothe listgoeson.
No single literary genre dominates the Tales. The tales include romantic adventures, fabliaux, saint's biographies, animal fables, religious allegories and even a sermon,and rangein tonefrom pious,moralistictalesto lewdand vulgarsexual farces. About Canterbury Tales No one knows for certain when Chaucer began to write the Tales — the pilgrimage is usually dated , but that date is subject to much scholarly argument — but it is certain that Chaucer wrote some parts of the Tales at different times, and went back and added Tales to the melting pot.
Boccaccio likely hada significantinfluence on Chaucer. The tales mostly written in verse, although some are in prose are presented as part of a story-telling contest by a group of pilgrims as they travel together on a journey from Southwark to the shrine of Saint Thomas Becket at Canterbury Cathedral. The prize for this contest is a free meal at the Tabard Inn at Southwark on their return.
About Canterbury Tales One of the things that makes The Canterbury Tales so fun to read is the great and often grotesque detail with which the narrator describes each of the pilgrims. Since The Canterbury Tales is a story about a storytelling competition, many of the questions it asks are about stories: what makes for a good story? Why do we tell stories?
As the pilgrims tell their stories, though, they turn out to be talking not just about fairytale people in far-off lands, but also about themselves and their society. This leads to a lot of conflict in a group of pilgrims formed by members of that same society, who often take offense at the versions of themselves they see portrayed in the tales. About Canterbury Tales The Tales constantly reflect the conflict between classes. Knight 2. Squire 3.