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Geoffrey Chaucer Background.

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Presentation on theme: "Geoffrey Chaucer Background."— Presentation transcript:

1 Geoffrey Chaucer Background

2 Father of English Poetry
Chaucer has often been called “the father of English poetry,” a phrase that makes him sound like a stuffy sort of writer. Chaucer had a keen interest in humanity, an observant eye, and a wonderfully sensitive ear. He is probably closer to Shakespeare than any other English poet in his fascinating spectacle regarding humanity, even though he did not have Shakespeare’s sweep and intensity. Chaucer had a special distinction of having taken the crude and uncertain accents of a language and metric which were still very much in the process of formation and, by study of French and Italian models, of having fashioned from his native Middle English a highly fluid and mellifluous verse and that is why he often referred to as “the father of English poetry.” (Hopper vii)

3 The Language Chaucer’s masterpiece—is anything but stuffy. In fact, its realistic language and coarse humor prompted critics to call Chaucer everything from “observant” to “contemptible.”

4 Man of the World Chaucer was a man of the world who knew how a variety of people spoke and acted. This knowledge was invaluable to his writing.

5 Born in London into a middle-class wine merchant’s family, he became a page in the royal household while still a teenager, probably around the age of 17. Despite the lowly duties of the job—making beds, carrying candles, running errands—the position offered Chaucer exposure to a world of fine manners and high-born people. Family He was undoubtedly given a respectable schooling but how far his schooling extended no one knows for sure, and as far as we know education was not as valid as it is today so the majority of learning had to be completed outside the classroom. It is quite obvious that Chaucer was an avid reader. It is presumed based on his Italian learning he read Roman authors such as Seneca, Ovid, and Horace; the medieval Boethius, Macrobius, and Alanus de Insulis; the contemporary French Machaut, Froissart, and Desxhamps; and the Italian Dante, Petrarch, and Boccaccio. (Hopper vii) 1357 Chaucer became page in the household of Elizabeth de Burgh, Countess of Ulster. (She is the wife of Lionel, Earl of Ulster, second son of Edward III.) The earliest known document in which Geoffrey Chaucer is named is a household account book kept for the Countess (June April 1359). The account book mentions purchases for Geoffrey Chaucer in April 1357: a short jacket, a pair of red and black hose (stockings) and a pair of shoes.

6 A few years later, he saw more of the world when he served in a military campaign in France. While in his twenties, Chaucer was made a court official, an appointment that was the start of many years of public service. During his career, he traveled abroad on diplomatic missions and was therefore exposed both French and Italian literature and culture. The World 1359 In September 1359 King Edward and his sons were invading France with a large expeditionary force. Prince Lionel went into the king's army and Chaucer served in the retinue of Lionel in the war in France. 1360 Chaucer is captured by the French at the siege of Reims. In March 1360, he is ransomed for 16 pounds. In October 1360 peace negotiations were arranged at Calais. Prince Lionel paid Chaucer for carrying letters from Calais to England. These diplomatic errands and messenger services were the first of many journeys. 1369 Chaucer travels to Northern France and serves in the army of John of Gaunt. 1370 Chaucer travels to the Continent (France probably) on the King's service. 1370 Chaucer again serves with the army in France. 1372 Chaucer travels to Italy on a diplomatic mission. He goes to Genoa to establish an English port for Genoese trade and to Florence to negotiate a loan for the King. Several journeys to France and Flanders to negotiate for peace and the marriage of Richard with a French princess. 1378 Chaucer travels to Italy Milan on a diplomatic mission. John Gower and Richard Forester have Chaucer's power of attorney while he travels abroad.

7 Rest of Chaucer’s life For the rest of his life, he held a variety of government posts. Some other facts about Geoffrey Chaucer—he was the clerk of the king’s works—a post in which he supervised the maintenance royal buildings and parks. When he moved from London to Kent, he served as a representative to Parliament. He was always considered a commoner. 1367 Chaucer entered service as an esquire in the household of Edward III. Chaucer is first recorded as a member of the royal household on 20 June 1367 when he was granted a royal annuity for life of 20 pounds. Birth of Chaucer's son, Thomas. 1374 Chaucer is appointed Controller of the Customs for hides, skins and wool in the port of London; he is granted a lease on a dwelling above Aldgate. 1382 Controllorship of the customs is renewed, with permission to have a deputy. 1385 Chaucer granted a permanent deputy in the Customs. 1385 Eustache Deschamps sends Chaucer a poem of praise, hailing him as "great translator, noble Geoffrey Chaucer." Death of Joan of Kent, mother of Richard II. Chaucer serves as Justice of the Peace for Kent. 1386 Chaucer becomes a Member of Parliament for Kent. Chaucer retires from Controllership of Customs. As the lease on the house in Aldgate was relinquished, he probably moved. 1389 On 12 July 1389, Chaucer is appointed clerk of the Works at Westminster, Tower of London, and other royal estates. This was probably his most arduous position. The clerkship represented a heavier and more direct responsibility than the controllership. As a royal clerk he supervised a great number of craftsmen and property. The arrangement of the purchase, transportation and storage of supplies was Chaucer's responsibility. 1390 As Clerk of the works, Chaucer has scaffolds built for jousts in Smithfield. Chaucer is appointed Commissioner of Walls and Ditches, responsible for works on the Thames between Woolwich and Greenwich. Chaucer is robbed of horse, goods, 20 pounds, 6 shillings, 8 pence at Hatcham (Surrey). The robbers were caught, tried and convicted. 1391 Chaucer retired from Clerkship of the King's works. In June 1391 he is appointed Deputy Forester of the Royal Forest of North Petherton, Somerset. In late medieval England forests were sources of revenue. The forestership was a responsible position which demanded skill in handling money and men.

8 Writings Despite these busy professional duties, Chaucer managed to create a large body of writing. His work is often divided into three distinct periods. His early poetry, which is influenced by the French medieval tradition, includes the Book of the Duchess Romaunt of the Rose c Chaucer translates parts of Romaunt of the Rose. He also writes poetry in French. 1368 Chaucer writes the Book of the Duchess about the death of Blanche, Duchess of Lancaster. 1368 Blanche, Duchess of Lancaster, dies in September. She was the first wife of John of Gaunt, who is the third son of Edward III. Chaucer writes "Fragment A" of the Romaunt of the Rose, probably many poems in French and English, now lost, and such poems as The Complaint unto Pity and The Complaint to His Lady

9 Later, he wrote the Parliament of Fowls Troilus and Cressida
1380 Birth of Chaucer's second son, Lewis. Chaucer writes The Parliament of Fowls. Chaucer writes Boece and Troilus and Criseyde.

10 His most mature writing, crafted in his forties, includes the:
Legend of Good Women The Canterbury Tales c Chaucer writes the poems later adapted as the Second Nun's Tale and the Monk's Tale in The Canterbury Tales 1386 Chaucer writes The Legend of Good Women. Some parts have been written earlier and the prologue is revised later. Chaucer begins The Canterbury Tales. Most of The Canterbury Tales, including probably "The Marriage Group.“ 1396 Envoy to Bukton, in which he is urged to read The Wife of Bath. Chaucer writes the latest of The Canterbury Tales, including probably The Nun's Priest's Tale, The Canon's Yeoman's tale (though parts probably earlier), and The Parson's Tale and several short poems, including Scogan, and Bukton.

11 Masterpiece The Canterbury Tales is considered Chaucer’s masterpiece for several reasons: First, it marks the beginning of a new tradition; Chaucer was the first writer to use English in a major literary work. Before him, literature was composed in French or Latin.

12 Cont’d Secondly, because The Canterbury Tales focuses on an assortment of people who are thrown together on a journey, it gives a lifelike and engaging picture of a cross section of society during the 1300s. Finally, it is an outstanding literature achievement.

13 Lines Chaucer created approximately 17,000 lines of vivid poetry, which still attract new readers centuries later.

14 Birth and Death Geoffrey Chaucer was born about 1342 and died on October 25, Note: Other historians have him being born in London around 1340. Although Chaucer was considered a commoner, he was buried in Westminster Abbey in honor of his lifelong contributions to England. 1400 Chaucer's Death on 25 October. He has been buried in Westminster Abbey in London. A tomb, erected by an admirer in the fifteenth century, marks his grave and his remains were subsequently moved. He was the first who was buried in what we now know as the 'Poets Corner' in Westminster Abbey.

15 Twenty-Nine Pilgrims In Chaucer’s work twenty-nine pilgrims travel to Canterbury to visit the shrine of St. Thomas à Becket. When Chaucer’s pilgrims first meet, at an inn, their hosts suggests they tell stories to pass the time. Their stories become the main part of The Canterbury Tales. Becket was a 12th century chancellor and archbishop of Canterbury whose murder resulted in his canonisation. Thomas Becket was born in around 1120, the son of a prosperous London merchant. He was well educated and quickly became an agent to Theobald, Archbishop of Canterbury, who sent him on several missions to Rome. Becket's talents were noticed by Henry II, who made him his chancellor and the two became close friends. When Theobald died in 1161, Henry made Becket archbishop. Becket transformed himself from a pleasure-loving courtier into a serious, simply-dressed cleric. The king and his archbishop's friendship was put under strain when it became clear that Becket would now stand up for the church in its disagreements with the king. In 1164, realising the extent of Henry's displeasure, Becket fled into exile in France, and remained in exile for several years. He returned in 1170. On the 29 December 1170, four knights, believing the king wanted Becket out of the way, confronted and murdered Becket in Canterbury Cathedral. Becket was made a saint in 1173 and his shrine in Canterbury Cathedral became an important focus for pilgrimage.

16 Real Characters Chaucer’s pilgrims are well-rounded characters with personalities and pasts. As one critic said, “Not a whisper, not a wart, is omitted.”

17 Occupations of Fourteenth Century Society
The pilgrims’ occupations reflect different aspects of fourteenth-century society: Feudel System: Knight, Squire, Yeoman, Franklin, Plowman, Miller, Reeve Religious Life: Nun, Monk, Friar, Cleric, Parson, Summoner, Pardoner Trades of Profession: Merchant, Sergeant at the Law, Five Tradesman, Cook, Skipper, Doctor, Wife of Bath, Manciple, Host

18 Frame Story The Canterbury Tales, uses a frame tale, a story that provides a vehicle, or frame, for telling other stories. The frame is about a pilgrimage, a trip made to a holy place for religious reasons or just for fun and adventure.

19 The Language of Chaucer
Chaucer spoke in Middle English, the result of mixing Old English of the Anglo Saxons with the Old French of the Normans. The grammar and vocabulary might seem the same, but certain pronunciations are different. For example, the e of Modern English was a separate audible syllable in many English words.

20 The Prologue’s Opening Lines
Whan that Aprill with his shoures soote When April with his showers sweet with fruit The droghte of March hath perced to the roote, The drought of March has pierced unto the root And bathed every veyne in swich licour And bathed each vein with liquor that has power Of which vertu engendred is the flour, To generate therein and sire the flower; Whan Zephirus eek with his sweete breeth When Zephyr also has, with his sweet breath, Inspired hath in every holt and heeth Quickened again, in every holt and heath, The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne The tender shoots and buds, and the young sun

21 Pilgrim means “traveler,” and many religions encourage believers to travel to holy places to show devotion or to seek divine help for problems. People would undertake a pilgrimage for many different reasons. The motivation for most would be a combination of three closely interrelated reasons: Firstly, people desired to see and touch places and objects that were considered holy. This might involve travelling to view places associated with Jesus or it might be to view relics of a favorite saint. The purpose of this pilgrimage was to attempt to make the object of faith more real. Secondly, people visited holy sites to make amends for having committed sin. By doing a pilgrimage as a penance, they hoped for forgiveness. These pilgrimages might have been for private reasons or for public reasons. They may have been voluntary or they may have been forced. Finally, people went on a pilgrimage for the simple pleasure of travelling. In a world that offered precious few opportunities to experience the world beyond the horizon, pilgrimage was an exciting, challenging opportunity to leave village life behind. Pilgrimages need to see and touch

22 Tabard Inn


24 Bibliography
need to see and touch Glencoe Literature: British Literature. The Reader’s Choice: Texas Edition. Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales (Selected): An Interlinear Translation Bibliography

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