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Publisher's Summary

Geoffrey Chaucer is one of our grandest and most enduring poets; an architect of our vocabulary and our literary style. By examining the English writer's texts, from his short love lyrics to the copious profusion of character and incident that is The Canterbury Tales, these 12 lectures will prepare you for the challenges of Chaucer's oeuvre, and will provide an understanding of what makes him the true "father" of English poetry. With Professor Lerer as your expert guide, you'll plumb the richness and depth of Chaucer's poetry and explore his life, the range of his work, and his impact on English language and literature. You'll examine Chaucer in virtually all the varieties of literature available to him: classical epic, domestic farce, ribald comedy, saint's life, beast fable, romance adventure, personal lyric, devotional prayer, and religious prose. You'll learn how Chaucer uses relationships between men and women, humans and God, social "insiders" and "outsiders," and high and low desires to explore our "ticklish" world, and the way life takes shape from literary forms-be they marriage vows, the verses of Scripture, or stories told by plain folk. You'll also meet some of the most vibrant characters in all of literature, including: the bawdy Wife of Bath, the manipulative Pandarus (whose very name gave rise to the term "pandering"), the upright Knight, and the ambiguous Pardoner.
Professor Lerer leads you deeply into the texts, so that you learn about their sources and syntax, and the rich repertoire of poetic techniques they display. And while he makes it clear that these texts remain eminently worth reading today, he also does full justice to their medieval context.
©1999 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)1999 The Great Courses
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By Amazon Customer on 02-27-16

"Chaucer is the name, writing is the game"

Loved this overview of Chaucer and his works! Thorough but still lively, the Canterbury Tales are reviewed for content as well as effect. Less known works are also covered with explanations and mentions of how they were received through the years.

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful


By Mary Elizabeth Reynolds on 03-01-14

Not much about the life of Chaucer

When I was in school, college and high school I found Chaucer jarring. Older I thought, perhaps I missed something, After listening to this, I feel the same way. I wanted context as something is clearly lost in the translation of the first written English, but I didn't get it. Even though there is much documented for Chaucer, it wasn't in this work, so I was disappointed. Unlike Shakespeare, no one ever said that Chaucer didn't write the Canterbury Tales. Look elsewhere for something more definitive, unusual for these courses.

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5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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