Chaucer and the Canterbury Tales

Chaucer and the Canterbury Tales

Chaucer and the Canterbury Tales

Chaucer and the Canterbury Tales

Excerpt

This book, the plan of which is set forth in detail in the introductory chapter, has been written for those who are interested in the Canterbury Tales as literature, but have no leisure to struggle with a mass of technical criticisms in order to gain a firm foundation for appreciating its artistry. Thoughtful readers will, I think, like to know something of the way in which such a foundation must be constructed, and of the difficulties to be surmounted in the process. In deciding disputed questions, I have occasionally been obliged to differ from distinguished authorities, but I console myself with the' reflection that those authorities are themselves often in lively disagreement. Less attention has here been given to the individual tales than to the structure and design of the whole, and less to contemporary pilgrimages, which have already been carefully studied, than to the artistic use which Chaucer made of them. A constant effort has been made, for the benefit of those who do not know the Middle Ages well, to emphasize the differences between the habits of thought of the fourteenth century and of our own day.

The following pages will, I hope, also be of some interest to the specialist. They embody a good deal of first-hand research, most of which has not appeared in print. In general, I have tried to be conservative. When I have advanced new ideas, I have tried to make it clear that they are my own. Some matters have been empha-

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