Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Chaucer and his World Tuesday April 10 2018 10 am to 12 noon

Tuesday April 10 2018 10 am to 12 noon

Nothing gives us a better idea of medieval life than Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales. Written in the late fourteenth century in the vernacular, it gives us an idea of the vast spectrum of people that made up the different classes within society. The poem describes the knightly class, the clergy, and those who worked for a living, thus describing the different classes as well. Chaucer gives us a cross-section of fourteenth century society by giving us the small details of people’s clothing, demeanour and professions; therefore giving us information on the lower and middle classes, not discussed in literature before.

Geoffrey Chaucer survived The Black Death’s peak at around age six, where twenty per cent of England’s population died.

The Canterbury Tales was one of the first works of literature actually written in English. Since society was ruled by the Church and the Church exercised in Latin, most of what was written by authors before the fourteenth century was in Latin or in the other major languages in Europe: Italian or French. English was seen as vulgar and only for the lower classes as it was these classes who would not be able to read or write in any other languages because that would mean they had the money to be educated. Chaucer made English literature more acceptable by writing The Canterbury Tales. It also brings light in the evolution of our language and how people of the Late Middle Ages pronounced the words.

Chaucer constructed the prologue in such a way that it gives a panoramic view of fourteenth century society. It allows us to see the lower classes of this time that would otherwise be unknown. The elite (those who would write in the educated languages of Latin and French) could only describe their own upper class. However, here it can be learned of what people wore, the different styles, qualities and colours.

Imagine a writer who is equally at home with romantic adventure and devotional meditation, or who brings the fullest measure of brilliance to ribald comedy and grave tragedy alike. Add a talent for creating unforgettable characters and keenly painting social relationships. Top it all off with a gift for expression so pure and scintillating that no less an authority than Edmund Spenser was moved to laud this writer's works as a "well of English pure and undefiled.

Now you have Geoffrey Chaucer (c. 1340-1400), one of our grandest and most enduring poets; an architect of our vocabulary and our literary style.

By examining texts from his short love lyrics to the copious profusion of character and incident that is The Canterbury Tales, this course prepares you for the challenges of Chaucer's oeuvre, and provides an understanding of what makes him the "founder" of English literature and language.

This is a thirteen week course and cost £65. For more details ring 07592330467 or email squabs@hotmail.co.uk.

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