Geoffrey Chaucer


Fourteenth-century author, poet, and civil servant Geoffrey Chaucer has delighted readers through the ages with his colorful tales filled with humanity, grace, and strength. He is best known for The Canterbury Tales, a vibrant account of life in England during his own day. This volume features essays from the fourteenth to the early twentieth centuries that present a historical look at Chaucer's abiding literary influence.
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Fourteenth-century author, poet, and civil servant Geoffrey Chaucer has delighted readers through the ages with his colorful tales filled with humanity, grace, and strength. He is best known for The Canterbury Tales, a vibrant account of life in England during his own day. This volume features essays from the fourteenth to the early twentieth centuries that present a historical look at Chaucer's abiding literary influence.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780791094389
  • Publisher: Chelsea House Publishers
  • Publication date: 6/28/2007
  • Series: Modern Critical Views Series
  • Edition description: REV
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.50 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Harold Bloom
Harold Bloom
One of our most popular, respected, and controversial literary critics, Yale University professor Harold Bloom’s books – about, variously, Shakespeare, the Bible, and the classic literature – are as erudite as they are accessible.


"Authentic literature doesn't divide us," the scholar and literary critic Harold Bloom once said. "It addresses itself to the solitary individual or consciousness." Revered and sometimes reviled as a champion of the Western canon, Bloom insists on the importance of reading authors such as Shakespeare, Milton, and Chaucer -- not because they transmit certain approved cultural values, but because they transcend the limits of culture, and thus enlarge rather than constrict our sense of what it means to be human. As Bloom explained in an interview, "Shakespeare is the true multicultural author. He exists in all languages. He is put on the stage everywhere. Everyone feels that they are represented by him on the stage."

Bloom began his career by tackling the formidable legacy of T.S. Eliot, who had dismissed the English Romantic poets as undisciplined nature-worshippers. Bloom construed the Romantic poets' visions of immortality as rebellions against nature, and argued that an essentially Romantic imagination was still at work in the best modernist poets.

Having restored the Romantics to critical respectability, Bloom advanced a more general theory of poetry. His now-famous The Anxiety of Influence argued that any strong poem is a creative "misreading" of the poet's predecessor. The book raised, as the poet John Hollander wrote, "profound questions about... how the prior visions of other poems are, for a true poet, as powerful as his own dreams and as formative as his domestic childhood." In addition to developing this theory, Bloom wrote several books on sacred texts. In The Book of J, he suggested that some of the oldest parts of the Bible were written by a woman.

The Book of J was a bestseller, but it was the 1994 publication of The Western Canon that made the critic-scholar a household name. In it, Bloom decried what he called the "School of Resentment" and the use of political correctness as a basis for judging works of literature. His defense of the threatened canon formed, according to The New York Times, a "passionate demonstration of why some writers have triumphantly escaped the oblivion in which time buries almost all human effort."

Bloom placed Shakespeare along with Dante at the center of the Western canon, and he made another defense of Shakespeare's centrality with Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human, an illuminating study of Shakespeare's plays. How to Read and Why (2000) revisited Shakespeare and other writers in the Bloom pantheon, and described the act of reading as both a spiritual exercise and an aesthetic pleasure.

Recently, Bloom took up another controversial stance when he attacked Harry Potter in an essay for The Wall Street Journal. His 2001 book Stories and Poems for Extremely Intelligent Children of All Ages advanced an alternative to contemporary children's lit, with a collection of classic works of literature "worthy of rereading" by people of all ages.

The poet and editor David Lehman said that "while there are some critics who are known for a certain subtlety and a certain judiciousness, there are other critics... who radiate ferocious passion." Harold Bloom is a ferociously passionate reader for whom literary criticism is, as he puts it, "the art of making what is implicit in the text as finely explicit as possible."

Good To Know

Bloom earned his Ph.D. from Yale University in 1955 and was hired as a Yale faculty member that same year. In 1965, at the age of 35, he became one of the youngest scholars in Yale history to be appointed full professor in the department of English. He is now Sterling Professor of Humanities at Yale and Berg Visiting Professor of English at New York University.

Though some conservative commentators embraced Bloom's canon as a return to traditional moral values, Bloom, who once styled himself "a Truman Democrat," dismisses attempts by both left- and right-wingers to politicize literature. "To read in the service of any ideology is not, in my judgment, to read at all," he told a New York Times interviewer.

His great affinity for Shakespeare has put Bloom in the unlikely position of stage actor on occasion; he has played his "literary hero," port-loving raconteur Sir John Falstaff, in three productions.

Bloom is married to Jeanne, a retired school psychologist whom he met while a junior faculty member at Yale in the 1950s. They have two sons.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Harold Irving Bloom (full name)
    2. Hometown:
      New York, New York and New Haven, Connecticut
    1. Date of Birth:
      July 11, 1930
    2. Place of Birth:
      New York, New York
    1. Education:
      B.A., Cornell University, 1951; Ph.D., Yale University, 1955

Table of Contents

Series Introduction     ix
Introduction   Harold Bloom     xi
Biography     xv
The Fourteenth Century     3
Thomas Usk (1387)     5
John Gower (1390)     5
The Fifteenth Century     7
John Lydgate (1400)     9
John Lydgate (1410)     10
John Walton "Translator's Preface" (1410)     10
Thomas Hoccleve (1412)     11
John Shirley "Introduction" (1450)     13
Robert Henryson (1475)     14
William Caxton "Epilogue" (1478)     15
William Caxton "Epilogue" (1483)     17
William Caxton "Prohemye" (1484)     17
The Sixteenth Century     21
William Dunbar (1503)     23
John Skelton "Phillip Sparrowe" (1508)     23
Gavin Douglas "Translator's Prologue" (1513)     27
Sir Thomas Wyatt (1540)     29
Henry VIII (1542-43)     29
Roger Ascham (1545)     30
Roger Ascham (1552)     31
Roger Ascham (1570)     31
John Foxe "A Protestation to the Whole Church of England" (1570)     31
George Gascoigne "Certain Notes of Instruction" (1575)     34
EdmundSpenser (1579)     35
Sir Philip Sidney (1581)     36
William Webbe "A Discourse of English Poetrie" (1586)     36
Thomas Nashe (1589)     38
Richard Puttenham (1589)     38
Robert Greene (1592)     39
Thomas Nashe (1592)     44
Edmund Spenser (1590-96)     45
Thomas Speght (1598)     46
Edmund Spenser "The Mutabilitie Cantos" (1599)     49
The Seventeenth Century     51
Edward Foulis "Prefatory Verse" (1635)     53
Samuel Pepys (1663-64)     53
Sir John Denham (1668)     54
Joseph Addison (1694)     54
The Eighteenth Century     57
John Dryden "Preface" (1700)     59
Alexander Pope (1711)     71
John Hughes (1715)     71
Daniel Defoe (1718)     72
Elizabeth Cooper (1737)     72
George Ogle "Letters to a Friend" (1739)     73
Samuel Johnson (1755)     74
Thomas Gray (1760)     76
Thomas Warton (1778-81)     80
Joseph Warton (1756-82)     106
The Nineteenth Century     109
William Godwin (1803-04)     111
William Blake (1809)      130
George Crabbe (1812)     140
William Hazlitt "Troilus and Cressida" (1817)     147
William Hazlitt "On Chaucer and Spenser" (1818)     150
William Wordsworth "Sonnet XXIII: Edward VI" (1822)     163
George Gordon, Lord Byron (1830)     163
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1837)     164
Elizabeth Barrett Browning "Mrs. Browning on Chaucer" (1842)     164
James Russell Lowell (1846)     171
Leigh Hunt (1848)     189
Henry David Thoreau "Friday" (1849)     189
Leigh Hunt (1855)     197
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1856)     209
Walter Savage Landor "To Chaucer" (1863)     210
Frederick Denison Maurice "On Books" (1865)     211
Francis James Child "Elision of Final Vowels" (1869)     212
James Russell Lowell "Chaucer" (1870)     213
William Minto "Geoffrey Chaucer" (1874)     239
Felix Lindner "The Alliteration in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales" (1876)     265
John Ruskin "Letter 61" (1876)     271
Adolphus William Ward "Characteristics of Chaucer and His Poetry" (1879)     272
Matthew Arnold (1880)     302
Gerard Manley Hopkins "Letter to Robert Bridges" (1880)     307
Algernon Charles Swinburne "Short Notes on English Poets" (1880)     308
Gerard Manley Hopkins (1881)     312
Algernon Charles Swinburne "Chaucer Lacks Sublimity" (1886)     312
George Dawson "Chaucer" (1887)     313
William Morris "Feudal England" (1888)     322
Henry Morley (1890)     323
Bernhard Ten Brink "Prelude to Reformation and Renaissance" (1893)     336
H. Simon "Chaucer a Wicliffite" (1868-94)     345
John Churton Collins (1895)     358
W.P. Ker "The Poetry of Chaucer" (1895)     359
Frank Jewett Mather "Introduction" (1899)     371
The Twentieth Century     381
George Saintsbury (1901)     383
Peter Borghesi (1903)     385
Sir Walter Raleigh "Lecture on Chaucer" (1926)     400
Chronology     407
Index     409
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