Chaucer and the Canterbury Tales: A Short Introduction / Edition 1

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This concise and lively survey introduces students with no prior knowledge to Chaucer, and particularly to The Canterbury Tales. Provides essential facts about Chaucer, as well as a framework for thinking about his poetry. Encourages an engaged reading of The Canterbury Tales. Introduces students to the historical and religious background needed to understand the contexts in which Chaucer wrote.

  • Provides essential facts about Chaucer, as well as a framework for thinking about his poetry.
  • Encourages an engaged reading of The Canterbury Tales.
  • Introduces students to the historical and religious background needed to understand the contexts in which Chaucer wrote.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This book is a lively, useful guide to beginning readers of the Canterbury Tales. It strikes a good balance between the cultural topics and historical interests that have shaped much contemporary scholarship and the poetic features – character, theme, structure, and linguistic play – that have always attracted Chaucer's readers." Robert Edwards, Pennsylvania State University

"Hirsch releases the pleasure, vitality, and complexity of the Canterbury Tales by familiarizing us with the fascinating otherness of Chaucer's world, and key interpretations by modern scholars. For anyone studying or teaching the Canterbury Tales, this informative and readable book will save much labour, and stimulate much thought." Peter Brown, University of Kent at Canterbury

"John Hirsh offers persuasive and vivid evocations of Chaucer's life and times, and his thought world, which provide useful contexts for his writings. An excellent and original introduction." Corinne Saunders, Durham University

"Chaucer and the Canterbury Tales includes a great range of accurate information in its few pages; even more important, Hirsh's writing is clear and welcoming and his learning and critical judgments as undogmatic as they are stimulating. [...] Although always sensitive to what a novice reader might need to know, Hirsh is never condescending. [...] Hirsh involves us in the delight of the material and the questions it raises in such a way that we hardly realize how well we are being instructed...." Speculum

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Product Details

Meet the Author

John C. Hirsh is Professor of English at Georgetown University in Washington D.C. His previous publications include The Boundaries of Faith: The Development and Transmission of Medieval Spirituality (1996), The Revelations of Margery Kempe: Paramystical Practices in Late Medieval England (1989) and Hope Emily Allen: Medieval Scholarship and Feminism (1988). He has also edited ‘Barlam and Iosaphat’ (1986) for the Early English Text Society.

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Table of Contents

Notes on Illustrations.


Who Was Geoffrey Chaucer?.

Gender and Religion, Race and Class.




Visions of Chaucer.



Which Tale Was That? A Summary of theCanterbury Tales.


Select Bibliography.


List of Authors, Compilers, Editors, and Translators Referred to in the Select Bibliography.

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