Chaucer

Chaucer

Chaucer

Chaucer

Excerpt

If I were writing this in French, as I should be if Chaucer had not chosen to write in English, I might be able to head this preliminary note with something like Avis Au Lecteur; which, with a French fine shade, would suggest without exaggeration the note of warning. As it is, I feel tempted to write, 'Beware!' or some such melodramatic phrase, in large letters across the frontispiece. For I do really desire to warn the reader, or the critic, of some possible mistakes in or about this book: touching its real purpose and its inevitable pitfalls.

It were perhaps too sanguine a simplicity to say that this book is intended to be popular; but at least it is intended to be simple. It describes only the effect of a particular poet on a particular person; but it also expresses a personal conviction that the poet could be an extremely popular poet; that is, could produce the same effect on many other normal or unpretentious persons. It makes no claim to specialism of any sort in the field of Chaucerian scholarship. It is written for people who know even less about Chaucer than I do. It does not in any of the disputed details, dictate to those who know much more about Chaucer than I do. It is primarily concerned with the fact that Chaucer was a poet. Or, in other words, that it is possible to know him, without knowing anything about him. A distinguished French critic said of my sketch of an English novelist that it might well bear the simple title, 'The Praise of Dickens'; and I should be quite content if this tribute only bore the title of 'The Praise ofChaucer.'

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