Chapter: English Literature During The Middle Ages
So, "The Canterbury Tales." Let's be honest, this is a hugely entertaining work. That something this funny (intentionally) could be written over six hundred years ago blows my mind. Comedy doesn't often hold up from generation to generation, but damned if some of Chaucer's work isn't still hilarious today. Plus, in general, the tales are just great stories. So yeah, even though I'm usually too lazy to read it in Middle English, I still love "The Canterbury Tales."
Having said that, it occured to me for the first time today that, for all intents and purposes, Chaucer wrote a 14th century reality TV show. The thirty pilgrims have nothing in common, and would never have been seen together in such a group had Chaucer not brought them together for the sake of a good story. He was keen to see how such disparate people from across the social strata would deal with having to spend time with each other. Thus, each story isn't just a reflection of its teller, it's a reflection of how the teller views his comrades and how he should tailor his story to address them. The Miller doesn't just tell a story, he tells a story in direct response to the Knight's Tale, which helps color the entire affair.
Chaucer drew these strangers together, forced them to socialize for days, and wrote down how they reacted to each other. Clearly he was a bit ahead of his time - around six hundred years ahead, to be precise.
Author: Geoffrey Chaucer • Year: c. 1386 • Info:Librarius
Lit Brick is a comic started by Jodie Troutman in an effort to read the entire Norton Anthology of English Literature. Having eventually succeeded in that goal, it now features comics about all manner of random literature. For more of Jodie's work, visit longtalljodie.com!