An award-winning biography that recreates the public, private, and poetic life of Geoffrey Chaucer, the father of English poetry and a central man of his age
Chaucer was born in the latter half of the fourteenth century, an age of revolution and devastation when Europe was convulsed by the Hundred Years’ War, the Black Death, and the social and intellectual upheavals that marked the “autumn of Feudalism.” The son of a wealthy London vintner, he maneuvered his way into the turbulent courts of Edward III and Richard II, and thus, without holding noble rank himself, he was able to witness the violent drama of royal power. It was, as Howard demonstrates, the perfect vantage point for a poet. Chaucer’s own poetic development from the mannered medieval style of The Book of the Duchess to the rich, comic, human complexity of The Canterbury Tales reflects the transformation of his world. With The Canterbury Tales and the darker, more formal epic Troilus and Criseyde, Chaucer established English for all time as a language of literature.
“A thoughtful, thorough book that conjures up the living presence of England’s first great poet more concretely than anybody has ever done before.”—San Francisco Chronicle Book Review
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Published by Ballantine Books Feb 11, 1989| 676 Pages| 6 x 9| ISBN 9780449903414