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The Canterbury Tales is a collection of stories written in Middle English by Geoffrey Chaucer at the end of the 14th century. The tales are told as part of a story-telling contest by a group of pilgrims as they travel together on a journey from Southwerk to the shrine of Saint Thomas Becket at Canterbury Cathedralmarker. In a long list of works, including "Troilus and Criseyde", "House of Fame", "Parliament of Fowls", the Canterbury Tales is Chaucer's magnum opus, and a towering achievement of Western culture. By casting a bumbling, credulous version of himself as tour guide, Chaucer created literature's first unreliable narrator. Structurally, the poem bears the influence of The Decameron, which Chaucer is said to have come across during his first diplomatic mission to Italymarker in 1372. However, Chaucer peoples his tales with 'sondry folk' rather than Boccaccio's fleeing nobles.

Text

The question of whether "The Canterbury Tales" is finished has not been answered. The combined elements of Chaucer's quadri-lingual expertise in law, philosophy, and other subjects, the uncertainty of medieval English historical records, issues of manuscript transmission, and Chaucer's method of telling his stories through a multi-perspectival prism of subjectivity make the "Tales" extremely difficult to interpret. There are 83 known manuscripts of the work from the late medieval and early Renaissance period, more than any other vernacular literary text with the exception of The Prick of Conscience. This is taken as evidence of the tales' popularity during the century after Chaucer's death. Fifty-five of these manuscripts are thought to have been complete at one time, while 28 are so fragmentary that it is difficult to ascertain whether they were copied individually or as part of a set. The Tales vary in both minor and major ways from manuscript to manuscript; many of the minor variations are due to copyists' errors, while others suggest that Chaucer added to and revised his work as it was being copied and (possibly) distributed. No official, unarguably complete version of the Tales exists and no consensus has been reached regarding the order in which Chaucer intended the stories to be placed.

Textual and manuscript clues have been adduced to support the two most popular methods of ordering the tales. The standard scholarly edition divides the Tales into ten "fragments." The tales that comprise a fragment are closely related and contain internal indications of their order of presentation, usually with one character speaking to and then stepping aside for another character. Between fragments, however, the connection is less obvious. Consequently, there are several possible tales orders, the most popular of which are as follows:

Fragment Tales
Fragment I(A) General Prologue, Knight, Miller, Reeve, Cook
Fragment II(B1) Man of Law
Fragment III(D) Wife, Friar, Summoner
Fragment IV(E) Clerk, Merchant
Fragment V(F) Squire, Franklin
Fragment VI(C) Physician, Pardoner
Fragment VII(B2) Shipman, Prioress, Sir Thopas, Melibee, Monk, Nun's Priest
Fragment VIII(G) Second Nun, Canon's Yeoman
Fragment IX(H) Manciple
Fragment X(I) Parson


An alternative ordering places Fragment VIII before VI. However, the order indicated above follows that of some early manuscripts. Fragments I and II almost always follow each other, as do VI and VII, IX and X in the oldest manuscripts. Fragments IV and V, by contrast are located in varying locations from manuscript to manuscript. Victorians would frequently move Fragment VII(B2) to follow Fragment II(B1), but this trend is no longer followed and has no justification. Even the earliest surviving manuscripts are not Chaucer's originals, the oldest being MS Peniarth 392 D (called "Hengwrt"), compiled by a scribe shortly after Chaucer's death. The scribe uses the order shown above, though he does not seem to have had a full collection of Chaucer's tales, so part are missing. The most beautiful of the manuscripts of the tales is the Ellesmere manuscript, and many editors have followed the order of the Ellesmere over the centuries, even down to the present day. The latest of the manuscripts is William Caxton's 1478 print edition, the first version of the tales to be published in print. Since this version was created from a now-lost manuscript, it is counted as among the 83 manuscripts.

Language

The Canterbury Tales were written in Middle English, specifically in a dialect associated with Londonmarker and spellings associated with the then emergent chancery standard. Although no manuscript of the Tales exists in Chaucer's own hand, two were copied around the time of his death by Adam Pinkhurst, a scribe whom he seems to have worked closely with before, meaning that we can be fairly sure about how Chaucer himself wrote the Tales. Chaucer's generation of English-speakers was among the last to pronounce e at the end of words (so for Chaucer the word was pronounced , not as in modern English). This meant that later copyists tended to be inconsistent in their copying of final -e and this for many years gave scholars the impression that Chaucer himself was inconsistent in using it. It has now been established, however, that -e was an important part of Chaucer's morphology (having a role in distinguishing, for example, singular adjectives from plural and subjunctive verbs from indicative). The pronunciation of Chaucer's writing otherwise differs most prominently from Modern English in that his language had not undergone the Great Vowel Shift: pronouncing Chaucer's vowels as they would be pronounced today in European languages like Italian, Spanish or German generally produces pronunciations more like Chaucer's own than Modern English pronunciation would. In addition, sounds now written in English but not pronounced were still pronounced by Chaucer: the word for Chaucer was , not . The pronunciation of Chaucer's poetry can now be reconstructed fairly confidently through detailed philological research; the following gives an IPA reconstruction of the opening lines of The Merchant's Prologue; it is likely, moreover, that when a word ending in a vowel was followed by a word beginning in a vowel, the two vowels were elided into one syllable, as seen here with care and:



'Wepyng and waylyng, care and oother sorwe
I knowe ynogh, on even and a-morwe,'
Quod the Marchant, 'and so doon oother mo
That wedded been.'




'Weeping and wailing, care and other sorrow
I know enough, in the evening and in the morning,'
said the Merchant, 'and so does many another
who has been married.'




Sources

No other work prior to Chaucer's is known to have set a collection of tales within the framework of pilgrims on a pilgrimage. It is obvious, however, that Chaucer borrowed portions, sometimes very large portions, of his stories from earlier stories, and that his work was influenced by the general state of the literary world in which he lived. Storytelling was the main entertainment in England at the time, and storytelling contests had been around for hundreds of years. In 14th-century England the English Pui was a group with an appointed leader who would judge the songs of the group. The winner received a crown and, as with the winner of the Canterbury Tales, a free dinner. It was common for pilgrims on a pilgrimage to have a chosen "master of ceremonies" to guide them and organize the journey.

The Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio contains more parallels to the Canterbury Tales than any other work. Like the Tales, it features a number of narrators who tell stories along a journey they have undertaken (to flee from the Black Plague). It ends with an apology by Boccaccio, much like Chaucer's Retraction to the Tales. One-fourth of the tales in Canterbury Tales parallels a tale in the Decameron, although most of them have closer parallels in other stories. Scholars thus find it unlikely that Chaucer had a copy of the work on hand, surmising instead that he must have merely read the Decameron while visiting Italy at some point. Each of the tales has its own set of sources which have been suggested by scholars, but a few sources are used frequently over several tales. These include poetry by Ovid, the Bible in one of the many vulgate versions it was available in at the time (the exact one is difficult to determine), and the works of Petrarch and Dante. Chaucer was the first author to utilize the work of these last two, both Italians. Boethius' Consolation of Philosophy appears in several tales, as do the works of John Gower, a known friend to Chaucer. A full list is impossible to outline in little space, but Chaucer also, lastly, seems to have borrowed from numerous religious encyclopedias and liturgical writings, such as John Bromyard's Summa praedicantium, a preacher's handbook, and St. Jerome's Adversus Jovinianum.

Analysis

Genre and structure

Canterbury Tales falls into the same category or genre as many other works of its day as a collection of stories organized into a frame narrative or frame tale. Chaucer's Tales differed from other stories in this genre chiefly in its intense variation. Most story collections focused on a theme, usually a religious one. Even in the Decameron, storytellers are encouraged to stick to the theme decided on for the day. The idea of a pilgrimage appears to have been a useful device to get such a diverse collection of people together for literary purposes, and was also unprecedented. Introducing a competition among the tales encourages the reader to compare the tales in all their variety, and allows Chaucer to showcase the breadth of his skill in different genres and literary forms.

While the structure of the Tales is largely linear, with one story following another, it is also much more than that. In the General Prologue, Chaucer describes, not the tales to be told, but the people who will tell them, making it clear that structure will depend on the characters rather than a general theme or moral. This idea is reinforced when the Miller interrupts to tell his tale after the Knight has finished his. Having the Knight go first, gives one the idea that all will tell their stories by class, with the Knight going first, followed by the Monk, but the Miller's interruption makes it clear that this structure will be abandoned in favor of a free and open exchange of stories among all classes present. General themes and points of view arise as tales are told which are responded to by other characters in their own tales, sometimes after a long lapse in which the theme has not been addressed.

Lastly, Chaucer does not pay much attention to the progress of the trip, to the time passing as the pilgrims travel, or specific locations along the way to Canterbury. His writing of the story seems focused primarily on the stories being told, and not on the pilgrimage itself.

Style

The variety of Chaucer's tales shows the breadth of his skill and his familiarity with countless rhetorical forms and linguistic styles. Medieval schools of rhetoric at the time encouraged such diversity, dividing literature (as Virgil suggests) into high, middle, and low styles as measured by the density of rhetorical forms and vocabulary. Another popular method of division came from St. Augustine, who focused more on audience response and less on subject matter (a Virgilian concern). Augustine divided literature into "majestic persuades", "temperate pleases", and "subdued teaches". Writers were encouraged to write in a way that kept in mind the speaker, subject, audience, purpose, manner, and occasion. Chaucer moves freely between all of these styles, showing favoritism to none. He not only considers the readers of his work as an audience, but the other pilgrims within the story as well, creating a multi-layered rhetorical puzzle of ambiguities. Chaucer's work thus far surpasses the ability of any single medieval theory to uncover.

With this Chaucer avoids targeting any specific audience or social class of readers, focusing instead on the characters of the story and writing their tales with a skill proportional to their social status and learning. However, even the lowest characters, such as the Miller, show surprising rhetorical ability, although their subject matter is more lowbrow. Vocabulary also plays an important part, as those of the higher classes refer to a woman as a "lady", while the lower classes use the word "wenche", with no exceptions. At times the same word will mean entirely different things between classes. The word "pitee", for example, is a noble concept to the upper classes, while in the Merchant's Tale it refers to sexual intercourse. Again, however, tales such as the Nun's Priest's Tale show surprising skill with words among the lower classes of the group, while the Knight's Tale is at times extremely simple.

Chaucer uses the same meter throughout almost all of his tales, with the exception of Sir Thopas and his prose tales. It is a decasyllable line, probably borrowed from French and Italian forms, with riding rhyme and, occasionally, a caesura in the middle of a line. His meter would later develop into the heroic meter of the 15th and 16th centuries and is an ancestor of iambic pentameter. He avoids allowing couplets to become too prominent in the poem, and four of the tales (the Man of Law's, Clerk's, Prioress', and Second Nun's) use rhyme royal.

Historical context and themes

The Canterbury Tales was written during a turbulent time in English history. The Catholic Church was in the midst of the Great Schism and, though it was still the only Christian authority in Europe, was the subject of heavy controversy. Lollardy, an early English religious movement led by John Wycliffe, is mentioned in the Tales, as is a specific incident involving pardoners (who gathered money in exchange for absolution from sin) who nefariously claimed to be collecting for St. Mary Rouncesval hospital in England. The Canterbury Tales is among the first English literary works to mention paper, a relatively new invention which allowed dissemination of the written word never before seen in England. Political clashes, such as the 1381 Peasants' Revolt and clashes ending in the deposing of King Richard II, further reveal the complex turmoil surrounding Chaucer in the time of the Tales' writing. Many of his close friends were executed and he himself was forced to move to Kentmarker in order to get away from events in London.

Religion

The Tales reflect diverse religious worldviews in Chaucer's time. After the Black Death, many Europeans began to question the authority of the Catholic Church. Some turned to lollardy, while others chose less extreme paths, starting new monastic orders or smaller movements exposing church corruption in the behavior of the clergy, false church relics or sale of indulgences. Several characters in the Tales are religious figures, and the very nature of the pilgrimage to Canterbury is deeply religious, making this a preeminent theme of the work.

Two characters, the Pardoner and the Summoner, have roles directly tied to the church's monetary power. Both of these characters are portrayed as deeply corrupt, greedy, and abusive. A pardoner in Chaucer's day was a person to whom one paid indulgences in exchange for forgiveness of sins. Pardoners would exact a fee for their services and in many cases were guilty of using these fees for their own gain. Chaucer's Pardoner openly admits the corruption of his practice while hawking his wares. The Summoner is a clergyman whose job it was to bring sinners to the church court for possible excommunication. These courts also had power to seize property, inflict pain or humiliation, or impose the death penalty. Corrupt summoners would write false citations and frighten people into bribing them in order to protect their lives and property. Chaucer's Summoner is portrayed as being guilty of the very kinds of sins he is threatening to bring others to court for, and he is hinted as having a corrupt relationship with the Pardoner to further his personal gain. In The Friar's Tale, one of the characters is a summoner, and is shown to be working on the side of the devil, not God.
Members of the regular clergy — monks and nuns of various orders — are represented by the Monk, the Prioress, the Nun's Priest, and the Second Nun. Monastic orders, which originated from the desire of many to follow an ascetic lifestyle and to separate themselves from the world, had by Chaucer's time become increasingly entangled in worldly matters. Monasteries frequently controlled huge tracts of land on which they made significant sums of money, while peasants worked in their employ. The Second Nun is an example of what a Nun was expected to be. Her tale is about a woman whose chaste example brings people into the church. The Monk and the Prioress, on the other hand, while they are not as corrupt as the Summoner or Pardoner, fall short of ideal for their order. Both are dressed expensively and show signs of lives of luxury and flirtatiousness. Both also show a lack of spiritual depth. The Prioress's Tale is an account of Jews murdering a deeply pious and innocent Christian boy. This blood libel against Jews became a part of English literary tradition. However, the story the Prioress tells did not originate in the works of Chaucer: it was well known in the 14th century.

The pilgrimage was a very prominent feature of medieval society. Pilgrims would frequently journey to cathedrals that preserved relics of saints. They believed that such relics had miraculous powers. Pilgrimages also represented the mortal journey to heaven through the struggles of mortal life. The ultimate pilgrimage destination was Jerusalem, but Canterbury was a popular destination within England. Saint Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, had been killed in the Canterbury cathedral by knights who had misunderstood Henry II's order during a disagreement between him and Becket. Miracle stories connected to his remains began to spring up soon after his death, and the area became a popular pilgrimage destination. The pilgrimage is a major theme in the work which ties all of the stories together, and some scholars point out that it may be a representation of Christians' striving for heaven, despite weaknesses, disagreement, and diversity of opinion.

Social class and convention

The upper class or nobility, represented chiefly by the Knight and his Squire, was in Chaucer's time steeped in a culture of chivalry and courtliness. Nobles were expected to be powerful warriors who could be ruthless on the battlefield, yet mannerly in the King's Court and Christian in their actions. Knights were expected to form a strong social bond with the men who fought alongside them, but an even stronger bond with a woman whom they idealized in order to strengthen their fighting ability. Though the aim of chivalry was to noble action, often its conflicting values degenerated into violence. Church leaders often tried to place restrictions on jousts and tournaments, which at times ended in the death of the loser. The Knight's Tale shows how the brotherly love of two fellow knights turns into a deadly feud at the sight of a woman whom both idealize, with both knights willing to fight the other to the death in order to win her. Chivalry was in Chaucer's day on the decline, and it is possible that The Knight's Tale was intended to show its flaws, although this is disputed. Chaucer himself had fought in the Hundred Years' War under Edward III, who heavily emphasized chivalry during his reign. Two tales, The Tale of Sir Topas and The Tale of Melibee are told by Chaucer himself, who is travelling with the pilgrims in his own story. Both tales seem to focus on the ill-effects of chivalry—the first making fun of chivalric rules and the second warning against violence.

The Tales constantly reflect the conflict between classes. For example, the division of the three estates; the characters are all divided into three distinct classes, the classes being "those who pray" (the clergy), "those who fight" (the nobility), and "those who work" (the commoners and peasantry). Most of the tales are interlinked by common themes, and some "quit" (reply to or retaliate against) other tales. Convention is followed when the Knight begins the game with a tale, as he represents the highest social class in the group. But when he is followed by the Miller, who represents a lower class, it sets the stage for the Tales to reflect both a respect for and a disregard for upper class rules. Helen Cooper, as well as Mikhail Bakhtin and Derek Brewer, call this opposition "the ordered and the grotesque, Lent and Carnival, officially approved culture and its riotous, and high-spirited underside." Several works of the time contained the same opposition.

Relativism vs. reality

Chaucer's characters each express different—sometimes vastly different—views of reality, creating an atmosphere of relativism. As Helen Cooper says, "Different genres give different readings of the world: the fabliau scarcely notices the operations of God, the saint's life focuses on those at the expense of physical reality, tracts and sermons insist on prudential or orthodox morality, romances privilege human emotion." The sheer number of varying persons and stories renders the Tales as a set unable to arrive at any definite truth or reality.

Influence

It is sometimes argued that the greatest contribution that this work made to English literature was in popularising the literary use of the vernacular, English, rather than French or Latin. English had, however, been used as a literary language for centuries before Chaucer's life, and several of Chaucer's contemporaries—John Gower, William Langland, and the Pearl Poet—also wrote major literary works in English. It is unclear to what extent Chaucer was responsible for starting a trend rather than simply being part of it. It is interesting to note that, although Chaucer had a powerful influence in poetic and artistic terms, which can be seen in the great number of forgeries and mistaken attributions (such as The Flower and the Leaf which was translated by John Dryden), modern English spelling and orthography owes much more to the innovations made by the Court of Chancery in the decades during and after his lifetime.

Reception

Chaucer's day

While Chaucer clearly states the addressees of many of his poems (the Book of the Duchess is known to have been written for John of Gaunt on the occasion of his wife's death in 1368), the intended audience of The Canterbury Tales is more difficult to determine. Chaucer was a courtier, leading some to believe that he was mainly a court poet who wrote exclusively for the nobility. He is referred to as a noble translator and poet by Eustace Deshamps and by his contemporary John Gower. It has been suggested that the poem was intended to be read aloud, which is probable as this was a common activity at the time. However, it also seems to have been intended for private reading as well, since Chaucer frequently refers to himself as the writer, rather than the speaker, of the work. Determining the intended audience directly from the text is even more difficult, since the audience is part of the story. This makes it difficult to tell when Chaucer is writing to the fictional pilgrim audience or the actual reader.

Chaucer's works may have been distributed in some form during his lifetime in part or in whole. Scholars speculate that manuscripts were circulated among his friends, but likely remained unknown to most people until after his death. However, the speed with which copyists strove to write complete versions of his tale in manuscript form shows that Chaucer was a famous and respected poet in his own day. The Hengwrt and Ellesmere manuscripts are examples of the care taken to distribute the work. More manuscript copies of the poem exist than for any other poem of its day except The Prick of Conscience, causing some scholars to give it the medieval equivalent of "best-seller" status. Even the most elegant of the illustrated manuscripts, however, is not nearly as decorated and fancified as the work of authors of more respectable works such as John Lydgate's religious and historical literature.

15th century

John Lydgate and Thomas Occleve were among the first critics of Chaucer's Tales, praising the poet as the greatest English poet of all time and the first to truly show what the language was capable of poetically. This sentiment is universally agreed upon by later critics into the mid-15th century. Glosses included in Canterbury Tales manuscripts of the time praised him highly for his skill with "sentence" and rhetoric, the two pillars by which medieval critics judged poetry. The most respected of the tales was at this time the Knight's, as it was full of both.

Literary additions and supplements

The incompleteness of the Tales led several medieval authors to write additions and supplements to the tales in order to make them more complete. Some of the oldest existing manuscripts of the tales include new or modified tales, showing that even early on, such additions were being created. These emendations included various expansions of the Cook's Tale, which Chaucer never finished, The Plowman's Tale, The Tale of Gamelyn, the Siege of Thebes, and the Tale of Beryn.

The Tale of Beryn, written by an anonymous author in the 15th century, is preceded by a lengthy prologue in which the pilgrims arrive at Canterbury and their activities there are described. While the rest of the pilgrims disperse throughout the town, the Pardoner seeks the affections of Kate the barmaid, but faces problems dealing with the man in her life and the innkeeper Harry Bailey. As the pilgrims turn back home, the Merchant restarts the storytelling with Tale of Beryn. In this tale, a young man named Beryn travels from Rome to Egypt to seek his fortune only to be cheated by other businessmen there. He is then aided by a local man in getting his revenge. The tale comes from the French tale Bérinus and exists in a single early manuscript of the tales, although it was printed along with the tales in a 1721 edition by John Urry.

John Lydgate wrote The Siege of Thebes in about 1420. Like the Tale of Beryn, it is preceded by a prologue in which the pilgrims arrive in Canterbury. Lydgate places himself among the pilgrims as one of them and describes how he was a part of Chaucer's trip and heard the stories. He characterizes himself as a monk and tells a long story about the history of Thebes before the events of the Knight's Tale. John Lydgate's tale was popular early on and exists in old manuscripts both on its own and as part of the tales. It was first printed as early as 1561 by John Stow and several editions for centuries after followed suit.

There are actually two versions of The Plowman's Tale, both of which are influenced by the story Piers Plowman, a work written during Chaucer's lifetime. Chaucer describes a Plowman in the General Prologue of his tales, but never gives him his own tale. One tale, written by Thomas Occleve, describes the miracle of the Virgin and the Sleeveless Garment. Another tale features a pelican and a griffin debating church corruption, with the pelican taking a position of protest akin to John Wycliffe's ideas.

The Tale of Gamelyn was included in an early manuscript version of the tales, Harley 7334, which is notorious for being one of the lower-quality early manuscripts in terms of editor error and alteration. It is now widely rejected by scholars as an authentic Chaucerian tale, although some scholars think he may have intended to rewrite the story as a tale for the Yeoman. Dates for its authorship vary from 1340-1370.

Literary adaptations

The title of the work has become an everyday phrase and been variously adapted and adopted; for example Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, and others.

Many literary works (both fiction and non-fiction alike) have used a similar frame narrative to the Canterbury Tales as an homage. Science Fiction writer Dan Simmons wrote his Hugo Award winning novel Hyperion based around an extra-planetary group of pilgrims. Evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins used The Canterbury Tales as a structure for his 2004 non-fiction book about evolution - The Ancestor's Tale: A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Evolution. His animal pilgrims are on their way to find the common ancestor, each telling a tale about evolution.

Henry Dudeney's book The Canterbury Puzzles contains a part which is supposedly lost text from the Tales.

Historical mystery novelist P.C. Doherty wrote a series of novels based on "The Canterbury Tales," making use of the story frame and of Chaucer's characters.

The graphic novel Worlds' End, part of Neil Gaiman's The Sandman series, has the same basic storyline as The Canterbury Tales. Several very different people meet in an inn and agree to tell tales while they wait for a storm to end.

British author JK Rowling cites The Pardoner's Tale, one of The Canterbury Tales, as her inspiration for the fairy tale The Tale of Three Brothers. This is very prominent in the Harry Potter series, especially in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the last book.

The song, "A Whiter Shade of Pale," by Procol Harum appears to contain a reference to Chaucer's work: "...And so it was, later, as the miller told his tale, that her face, at first just ghostly, turned a whiter shade of pale."

Stage and film adaptations

The Two Noble Kinsmen, by William Shakespeare and John Fletcher, a retelling of "The Knight's Tale", was first performed in 1613 or 1614 and published in 1634. In 1961, Erik Chisholm completed his opera, The Canterbury Tales. The opera is in three acts: The Wyf of Bath’s Tale, The Pardoner’s Tale and The Nun’s Priest’s Tale.

A Canterbury Tale, a 1944 film jointly written and directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, is loosely based on the narrative frame of Chaucer's tales. The movie opens with a group of medieval pilgrims journeying through the Kentish countryside as a narrator speaks the opening lines of the General Prologue. The scene then makes a now-famous transition to the time of World War II. From that point on, the film follows a group of strangers, each with his or her own story and in need of some kind of redemption, are making their way to Canterbury together. The film's main story takes place in an imaginary town in Kent and ends with the main characters arriving at Canterbury Cathedral, bells pealing and Chaucer's words again resounding. A Canterbury Tale is recognized as one of the Powell-Pressburger team's most poetic and artful films. It was produced as wartime propaganda, using Chaucer's poetry, referring to the famous pilgrimage, and offering photography of Kent to remind the public of what made Britain worth fighting for. In one scene a local historian lectures an audience of British soldiers about the pilgrims of Chaucer's time and the vibrant history of England.

Pier Paolo Pasolini's 1972 film The Canterbury Tales features several of the tales, some of which keep close to the original tale and some of which are embellished. The Cook's Tale, for instance, which is incomplete in the original version, is expanded into a full story, and the Friar's Tale extends the scene in which the Summoner is dragged down to hell. The film includes these two tales as well as the Miller's Tale, the Summoner's Tale, the Wife of Bath's Tale, and the Merchant's Tale.

Several more recent films, while they are not based on the tales, do have heavy references to them. For example, in the 1995 film Se7en, the Parson's Tale is an important clue to the methods of a serial killer who chooses his victims based on the seven deadly sins. The 2001 film, A Knight's Tale took its name from "The Knight's Tale". Although it bears little resemblance to the tale, it does feature what Martha Driver and Sid Ray call an "MTV-generation" Chaucer who is a gambling addict with a way with words. Scattered references to the Tales include Chaucer's declaration that he will use his verse to vilify a summoner and a pardoner who have cheated him.

Television adaptations include Alan Plater's 1975 re-telling of the stories in a series of plays for BBC2: Trinity Tales. In this adaptation, the stories were told by a party of rugby league supporters on their way to a cup final at Wembleymarker. Later, in 2004, BBC again featured modern re-tellings of selected tales.

References

Notes

The Canterbury tales exhibition is currently a poular tourist attraction in Canterbury today.

Bibliography

  • Bisson, Lillian. Chaucer and the Late Medieval World. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1998. ISBN 031210667X
  • Cooper, Helen. The Canterbury Tales. Oxford Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, 1996. ISBN 0198711557
  • Pearsall, Derek. The Canterbury Tales. London: G. Allen & Unwin, 1985. ISBN 0048000213
  • Rubin, Alexis P., ed. (1993): Scattered Among the Nations: Documents Affecting Jewish History. 49 to 1975. Wall & Emerson. ISBN 1895131103.


Further reading

  • Collette, Carolyn. Species, Phantasms and Images: Vision and Medieval Psychology in the Canterbury Tales. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2001.
  • Kolve, V.A. and Glending Olson (Eds.) (2005). The Canterbury Tales: Fifteen Tales and The General Prologue; Authoritative Text, Sources and Backgrounds, Criticism. A Norton Critical Edition (2nd ed.). New York, London: W.W. Norton and Company. ISBN 0-393-92587-0. LC PR1867.K65 2005.
  • Thompson, N.S. Chaucer, Boccaccio, and the Debate of Love: A Comparative Study of the Decameron and the Canterbury Tales. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996. ISBN 0-198-12378-7.


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