Students with little or no prior knowledge of Chaucer, the Canterbury Tales, or the world in which they were produced, will welcome this lively and concise introduction. Not only does it paint a portrait of the poet against the background of his time, it also considers the major preoccupations of the tales, and provides students with a critical framework for thinking creatively about them. The author inspires students to engage with the tales from a variety of perspectives, setting traditional ways of reading them against other newer approaches. Avoiding the tale-by-tale analysis and focus on individual pilgrims common to old-fashioned introductions, he encourages students instead to consider readings which compare and contrast the tales, emphasizing socially constructed analyses. The book provides the ideal aid to understanding and appreciating Geoffrey Chaucer and his works.
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.