Chaucer: the man and his work

1340 -1400

Chaucer was a man of importance: when he was taken prisoner in 1359, King Edward paid an enormous ransom of £16 for his return.  He was a courier in peace negotiations, related by marriage to royals and had a £20 pension and an annual butt of wine  Moreover, he was a JP, a controller of Customs and Clerk of the King’s Works.  He enjoyed the patronage of Edward III, Richard II and Henry IV

His work was read aloud at court and manuscripts were commissioned by the wealthy.  There would be gatherings where there would be readings of the work.  Chaucer writes in a courtly style with words via French from Latin e.g.: ‘mesurable, ‘habitacioun’, ‘maladye’, ‘superfluytee’. He uses such structural elements as rhyming couplets and the iambic pentameter of English poetry rather than the alliterative provincial, Anglo Saxon style of Langland and the Gawain poet where there were three stressed alliterated sounds to the line as in this example:

‘Sheer sheds the rain in showers full warm.’

The fourth stressed syllable (in this case ‘warm’) would be used for the alliterated syllables of the next line.

Contrast this with Chaucer’s rhyming pentameters:

‘Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote

The Droghte of Marche hath perced to the roote’

 

Bibliography to all work on Chaucer on this website:

Chaucer The Pardoner’s Tale             C W R D Moseley      Penguin Critical Studies

Chaucer                                               Brian Stone                 Penguin Critical Studies

The Pardoner’s Tale                            Geoffrey Lester          MacMillan Master Guides

The CanterburyTales                          Helen Cooper             OxfordGuides to Chaucer

Chaucer: The Canterbury Tales           ed J J Anderson          Casebook Series

Other pages (some mine) on The Pardoner’s Tale:

Very useful Study Guide giving insights into many aspects of the text, including a commentary on the significance of phrases.

Glossary 

Modern English rendering 

Chaucer: The Man and his Work

The Pardoner of the Tale

The Pardoner’s Tale as Sermon (Form)

The Pardoner’s Tale Annotated Text (first few lines)

The Pardoner’s Tale: context

Modern English version

The Pardoner’s Tale: questions

The Pardoner’s Tale: the uncanny

The Pardoner’s Tale: writing style and characterisation

 

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