Geoffrey Chaucer is the best-known and most widely read of all medieval British writers, famous for his scurrilous humour and biting satire against the vices and absurdities of his age. Yet he was also a poet of passionate love, sensitive to issues of gender and sexual difference, fascinated by the ideological differences between the pagan past and the Christian present, and a man of science, knowledgeable in astronomy, astrology and alchemy. This concise book is an ideal starting point for study of all his major poems, particularly The Canterbury Tales, to which two chapters are devoted. It offers close readings of individual texts, presenting various possibilities for interpretation, and includes discussion of Chaucer's life, career, historical context and literary influences. An account of the various ways in which he has been understood over the centuries leads into an up-to-date, annotated guide to further reading.
In The Press
'… [this book] conveys a continuing enjoyment and delight in reading and interpreting Chaucer's writings. By mixing the experience of a lengthy teaching career with the authority of his widely admired scholarship, Minnis encourages us to pause, observe, take stock, and share the wonders and conundrums of Chaucer's achievement. We are in the hands of an expert guide who knows his own mind without being overbearing in the manner of Chaucer's overinformed, loquacious eagle in the House of Fame. Instead he is plain-speaking and confident even in acknowledging the limits of his own eagle-eyed interpretations.' Peter Brown, Speculum