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The Knight’s Tale

Lesson 33 Chapter 3 Module 4

Ok — Pop Quiz time!

Who is considered to be the "Father of Modern English Literature"?

*cue Jeopardy theme music*

It's Geoffrey Chaucer, the poet and author who penned The Canterbury Tales in the 1380's.

At a time when the predominant languages in England were French and Latin, Chaucer set out to write in the colloquial tongue, and essentially became a pioneer for Middle English.

That's a fancy literary theory sentence that basically means: Chaucer wrote like people talked, and was one of the first people to publish a work with that vocabulary.

(But seriously, use the fancy literary theory sentence at a dinner party sometime. You'll either come across as exceptionally brilliant or a total egghead snob, I have a 50/50 run-rate on that assessment!)

While Chaucer's writing IS exceptional and a total departure from the Olde English yammerings of many of the poet's and essayists of the Middle Ages, I personally think that it was such a hit because it had ALL the trappings of what people wanted to read.

See, The Canterbury Tales is really an entire book on the virtues of love and mercy and the perils of lust and violence.

Basically, it was a summer blockbuster at the town square meetings!

Today's except doesn't go TOO far down the virtues OR perils path, but gives a great representation of the melodic verse that helped to bring about the language many are writing in today.

I’m guessing you don’t read much in this format these days. (No worries, I included a modern translation in Further Reading, so you can give it a read and see if you knew the story.)

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