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Political and Literary Attitude of Chaucer

The purpose of this paper is to analyze the political and literary attitude of Geoffrey Chaucer (1340-1400) and to discuss his anti-clericalism. We will argue that Chaucer was a satirist of all aspects of society, including the church.

Chaucer's name, like so much of his language, was of French origin. It meant shoemaker, and probably was pronounced "shosayr." He was the son of John Chaucer, a London vintner. He won a good education from both books and life. His poetry abounds in knowledge of men and women, literature and history. In 1357 "Geoffrey Chaucer" was officially listed in the service of the household of the future Duke of Clarence (Adams 33). Two years later he was off to the wars in France. He was captured, but was freed for a ransom, to which Edward III contributed. It was a pleasant custom of those days, which admired poetry and eloquence, to send men of letters on diplomatic missions abroad. So Chaucer was deputed with two others to negotiate a trade agreement at Genoa and in 1378 he went with Sir Edward Berkeley to Milan. Italy was a transforming revelation to him. He saw there a culture far more polished, lettered, and subtler than England's. He learned a new reverence for the classics, including Latin. When he finally turned to his own homeland for his scenes and characters, he was an accomplished artist and a mature mind.

He describes himself, in The House of Fame, as hurrying home after he had "made his reckonings," and losing himself in his books, sitting "dumb as a stone," and setting his wit to "make books, songs, and ditties in rime." In his youth, he tells us, he had written "many a song and lecherous lay." He translated Boethius' "De consolations philosophiae" (The Consolation of Philosophy) into good prose, and part of Guillaume de Lorris' "Romaunt de la rose" into excellent verse. He began a number of what may be called major minor poems: The House of Fame, The Book of the Duchess, T...

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Political and Literary Attitude of Chaucer. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 15:54, December 07, 2021, from