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Geoffrey Chaucer

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Mary Flannery

on 29 April 2014

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Transcript of Geoffrey Chaucer

Today's lecture:
Chaucer's life and world
The Canterbury Tales
How do the tales happen?
The Miller and his tale
Geoffrey Chaucer
The Canterbury Tales

Week 1:
The Miller's Tale

Mary C. Flannery / Anthropole 5119
mary.flannery@unil.ch

@15thcgossipgirl

Geoffrey Chaucer
(1342-1400)
Born in London
Page, retainer in royal
households
Pretty well off...
...but
very
well conne
cted

The Canterbury Tales
Troilus and Criseyde
Dream poems
Translations
Short poems
Treatise on the Astrol
abe
(?!?)
Turmoil in fourteenth-century England...
Hundred Years' War not going well
Plague
Social and political upheaval
Heresy!
Peasants' Revolt (1381)
Richard II deposed (1399)!!!
The Canterbury Tales
Begun late 1380s; unfinished at Chaucer's death
17000 lines; 10 fragments
More than 80 MSS
Collection of stories + 'frame narrative'
Pilgrims include:
Knight
Monk
Miller
Man of Law
Cook
Shipman
Host
Wife of Bath
Chaucer the Pilgrim

...and many more!
pilgrimage, n.

a.
A journey (usually of a long distance) made to a sacred place as an act of religious devotion; the action or practice of making such a journey.

Source:
Oxford English Dictonary Online
Some
CT
genres
romance:
love, adventure, quest, chivalry, ‘courtoisie’, honour, magic, resurrection, identity, etc.

fabliau:
comic tale of sex and violence with each character trying to outwit the others

saint’s life:
pious and didactic story about the good deeds and (often) martyrdom of an innocent

beast fable:
stories where animals as characters placed in inappropriately grand or metaphorical dilemmas
The tale-telling competition
This is the poynt, to speken short and pleyn,
That
ech of yow, to shorte with oure weye,
In this viage shal telle tales tweye
To Caunterbury-ward, I mene it so,
And homward he shal tellen othere two
,
Of aventures that whilom han bifalle.
And which of yow that bereth hym best of alle--
That is to seyn, that telleth in this caas
Tales of best sentence and moost solaas--
Shal have a soper at oure aller cost
Heere in this place, sittynge by this post,
Whan that we come agayn fro Caunterbury.
And for to make yow the moore mury,
I wol myselven goodly with yow ryde,
Right at myn owene cost, and be youre gyde;
And whoso wole my juggement withseye
Shal paye al that we spenden by the weye.
(
General Prologue
790-806)
Oure Hooste lough and swoor, 'So moot I gon,
This gooth aright; unbokeled is the male.
Lat se now who shal telle another tale;
For trewely the game is wel bigonne.
Now telleth ye, sir Monk, if that ye konne,
Somwhat to quite with the Knyghtes tale.
'
The Millere, that for dronken was al pale,
So that unnethe upon his hors he sat,
He nolde avalen neither hood ne hat,
Ne abyde no man for his curteisie,
But in Pilates voys he gan to crie,
And swoor, 'By armes, and by blood and bones,
I kan a noble tale for the nones,
With which I wol now quite the Knyghtes tale.
'
Oure Hooste saugh that he was dronke of ale,
And seyde, 'Abyd, Robyn, my leeve brother;
Som bettre man shal telle us first another.
Abyd, and lat us werken thriftily.'
'By Goddes soule,' quod he, 'that wol nat I;
For I wol speke or elles go my wey.'
Oure Hoost answerde, 'Tel on, a devel way!'
(
General Prologue
3114-34)
diminutive of Old French
fable
(essentially 'little tale')

Immediate origins in France: over 160 fabliaux in French, late 12th to 14th C;
fabulae
in Latin, in Italian (
novelle
), and in German (
Märendichtung
).

Chaucer’s other fabliaux:
Reeve's Tale
;
Shipman's Tale
;
Merchant's Tale
; elements in
Cook’s Tale
,
Friar’s
,
Summoner’s Tale
and
Franklin’s Tale

fabliau(x)
Short; usually in verse

Contemporary setting

Characters from lower classes

Stock characters/themes

Sex, food, money, carnality (
not
ideals)

Emphasis on cunning, duplicity, folly
fabliau
characteristics
quiten (v.)
to repay; to return; to reward...

BUT ALSO:

to get even with, to take revenge, to punish, to answer back/retort
Middle English Dictionary
online
http://quod.lib.umich.edu/cgi/m/mec/med-idx?type=id&id=MED35686
Full transcript