Placing the Canterbury Tales in the context of the crisis in English society in the fourteenth century, this guide examines the social diversity of Chaucer's pilgrims, the stylistic range of their tales and psychological richness of their interaction. It emphasizes the language of the poem, as well as the role of Chaucer in literary tradition, and devotes an entire chapter to the General Prologue widely studied in undergraduate courses. Finally, the volume includes a chronology of the period and an invaluable guide to further reading. First Edition Hb (1989): 0-521-32331-2 First Edition Pb (1989): 0-521-31159-4
'Written in a lucid and elegant style, Wetherbee's book has lost nothing of its worth during the fifteen years that have elapsed since it was first published. It provides a useful and thought-provoking commentary to the Tales not only for university students or general readers but also for specialists.' Anglia
Chronology; 1. Introduction; 2. The general prologue; 3. Gentles: chivalry and the courtly world; 4. Churls: commerce and the material world; 5. Women; 6. The art and problems of tale-telling; 7. The final tales; 8. Afterword: the reception of the Canterbury Tales.