Canterbury Tales (Barnes & Noble Classics Series) by Geoffrey; Robert W. Hanning (intro & notes); Peter Tuttle

By Geoffrey; Robert W. Hanning (intro & notes); Peter Tuttle (translator) Chaucer

Excerpt from Canterbury stories
The tomb of a poet! Cried I, with a spring that electrified my informant at the very least myself - What poet lies the following and the place is he buried?
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With its population of 50,000 (the largest in England but small compared to Paris, Florence, or Venice), London had recently established itself as the commercial, intellectual, and cultural capital of the English kingdom; its port was a major center of wool exports (England舗s most important product) and wine imports, and its close relations with the nearby city of Westminster (the seat of the royal government and its national legal and financial bureaucracy) gave it additional prominence because of its political and economic importance to the monarchy.

Sometime after the end of 1360 he passed into the King舗s household, first as a yeoman but later in the decade attaining the higher rank of esquire, along with a life annuity (a standard reward for services rendered). By 1366 he was married to Philippa, a member of the Queen舗s household, and in the following year a son, Thomas, was born. In royal service舒to the King, to John of Gaunt, duke of Lancaster, and perhaps to Edward III舗s eldest son, the Black Prince舒Chaucer made repeated trips abroad in the coming years, on public and secret diplomatic missions, to France, Spain, and Italy, while also participating in court life and entertainments in England.

How long he worked on The Canterbury Tales is unknown舒perhaps until illness or death interrupted his labors, but he may have abandoned the project much earlier. Other unanswerable questions: Did he ever really contemplate writing 120 tales, as is implied by the Host舗s suggestion to the Canterbury-bound pilgrims that each of the thirty travelers tell two tales on the road to the shrine and two more on the way back to the celebratory dinner at his inn, the Tabard? ) And how many of the tales had been written and either circulated in writing or performed orally before the poet had the idea of incorporating them within a frame?

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