Studying The General Prologue to the Canterbury Tales
EVERYBODY who studies The General Prologue experiences the same problems. The first problem is reading a work in a strange and unfamiliar version of English. However, I hope the previous chapter has shown that Chaucer’s language is not that much of a barrier. You simply need to approach it systematically. In fact, most people really enjoy the poem, and usually for the same reason. The General Prologue is an astonishingly lively view of a group of pilgrims in fourteenthcentury England. 600 years later we can still recognise familiar types in Chaucer’s collection of characters, and Chaucer has a wonderful way of picking on people’s revealing and often amusing idiosyncrasies. The language, which at first is such an obstacle, soon becomes a source of fascination and delight in its own right.
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