Geoffrey Chaucer World Literature Analysis
One of the keys to Chaucer’s continued critical success is the scope and diversity of his work, which extends from romance to tragedy, from sermon to dream vision, from pious saints’ lives to bawdy fabliaux. Each century’s readers have found something new in Chaucer and have learned something about themselves, as well.
Chaucer was recognized even in his own time as the foremost of English poets. A ballad written by the French poet Eustache Deschamps in 1386, well before the works for which Chaucer is now remembered, identifies him as the “great translator, noble Geoffrey Chaucer” (probably thinking of his translation of the Romaunt of the Rose) and praises his work extravagantly, as do the contemporary English writers Thomas Usk and John Gower. Chaucer’s most important creative output consists of six major narrative poems, although his translations and short poems are also of high quality and considerable interest. These six are The Canterbury Tales and Troilus and Criseyde, his two masterpieces, and the four “major minor” poems, Book of the Duchess, Parlement of Foules, House of Fame (1372-1380), and The Legend of Good Women.
All four of the major minor poems are structured by the devices of the dramatized first-person narrator and the dream vision. In the earliest of these poems, Book of the Duchess, the evidently lovesick and therefore (by the...
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