The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
Introduced by Joshua Wilson
The Canterbury Tales was one of the the first books to be printed in English [by William Caxton] and showed people of the time what the language could be used for. It followed the tale of a group of pilgrims going to Canterbury to where Thomas Becket was killed.
It was written by Geoffrey Chaucer just after the Black Plague in a time where the social hierarchy and religion was beginning to be questioned. This comes across as the story is not aimed at or written about one class. Instead, Chaucer wrote the story aiming it at the reader and treats everyone as characters. Where as previous literature treated women as either wives, virgins or prostitutes, Chaucer wrote them as actual characters. All classes were covered and there was a present theme of classes trying to rise up the system in a time where such a thing was only just coming to be. It reflected the story of Chaucer himself who started off as a rather poor peasant but who ended up ascending and becoming rather influential.
The Canterbury Tales was influenced by Chaucer trip to Italy where he read Dante’s work that presented philosophy is the form for poems. He wished to create a similar thin using the English language.
The influence of The Canterbury Tales is that it has influenced practically all storytelling that has come since it that it inspired deeper stories that treated all the characters as just that. Many authors, from Charles Dickens to JK Rowling have sited The Canterbury Tales as at least a partial inspiration.
Joshua Wilson is a student at the Royal National College for the Blind in Hereford and recently did a work experience week with The Story of Books.
The Story of Books hosted a ‘wayzgoose’ in Hay-on-Wye this weekend. A wayzgoose is a gathering of printers and papermakers – a tradition that dates back to medieval times. Some believe that the word is a misspelling of ‘waysgoose’, from wase, Middle English for ‘sheaf’, thus meaning ‘sheaf’ or ‘harvest goose’, a bird eaten at harvest-time, as in the ‘stubble-goose’ mentioned by Chaucer in The Cook’s Prologue in The Canterbury Tales.