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The Canterbury Tales, Geoffrey Chaucer

An April journey, a genial host, and a series of stories make up this masterpiece of British literature written in the fourteenth century. In The Canterbury Tales, a band of men and women meets at an inn to begin a pilgrimage to the shrine of Thomas Becket. The inn's host suggests that they while away their time on the long journey by telling stories. He offers a feast when they return to honor the best teller of tales. Chaucer has filled the story with characters who vary widely in social standing, occupation, morality, and wit. The pilgrims come to life through the narrator's often caustic descriptions and through the tales they tell.

Related Readings

"In Chaucer Tale, a Clue to an Astronomic Reality"—newspaper article by James Glanz

from the Decameron—frame story by Giovanni Boccaccio

"Chaitivel"—poem by Marie de France

from A Distant Mirror—history by Barbara Tuchman

from The Fifth Pillar—memoir by Saida Miller Khalifa

Study Guide (PDF)


McGraw-Hill / Glencoe