Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Canterbury Tales

Geoffery Chaucer

The Canterbury Tales is a book that I had a glimpse of in college. We read a few of the stories from it in one of my English classes. I decided to read the rest of it so I could say I’ve read it. I’m very glad with my decision.

The main storyline of the book is about a group of pilgrims traveling to a saint’s grave. They stop at an in where the innkeeper creates a game for them to play on their journey and acts as their guide. The game to be played is that everyone must tell a great tale to entertain the rest. The one with the best tale gets free meals and lodging. So, the book is full of short stories that are quite entertaining.

There isn’t any one main character since it is full of a lot of short stories. There was a sort of theme to the book about young ladies and men who wanted to marry them. Many of the stories contained questionable material, not suitable for a young audience. I must admit they were very funny though.

The setting and time period made an interesting mark on the stories being told. There were a lot of references to ancient Greek and Roman gods. Dante was referenced more than once, along with other ancient writers. Its very obvious that Chaucer was very well versed in the ancient literatures.

There is also an interesting amount of spirituality included. It reflects the spiritual status of the people of Chaucer’s time. The reliance on the Church of Rome and the system set up from there. The amount of religious personnel that existed is staggering. And the deceitful ways that they lived in is ridiculous. Its very evident that the “Christian” way of the middle ages was not at all what Christianity is about. It became a religion during that time.

I’m sure there is a lot that can be said about Christianity during the middle ages. I notice just from reading this book that worship of the saints became idolatrous. The good works mentality also became prevalent at this time. There were stories of good Christians, but they were only believed to be good because of their works.

But besides that, this is a great piece of literature. I think any person that is interested in classic literature should read this. It just completes a well rounded reader.

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