Chaucer, Geoffrey

(ca. 1340-1400)
   The greatest poet of medieval English literature, and the first widely influential poet since Anglo-Saxon times to write mainly in English rather than French. He is enduringly famous as the author of the Canterbury Tales, a collection of verse narratives supposedly told by a band of pilgrims on their way to visit the shrine of St. Thomas à Becket at Canterbury. The poem is remarkable for the socially diverse collection of characters portrayed, for its subtle portrayal of human character, and for its skill-ful and original treatment of stories that were often traditional folk tales and sometimes were borrowed from earlier authors. The poem is also notable for the anticlerical satire that reflects popular criticism of the clergy, a theme found in much late-medieval literature.
   Although Chaucer is usually defined as a medieval author, his great poem shows familiarity with writers of the early Italian Renaissance such as Giovanni Boccaccio. Also important is the role of his writings in establishing the East Midlands dialect of Middle English as the dominant form of the English language. Yet Chaucer knew French language and literature well and was influenced by medieval French literature. One of his early works was an adaptation of the famous French poem The Romance of the Rose. He was also influenced by late medieval and early Renaissance Italian literature—his Troilus and Criseyde, for example, was adapted from a work of Boccaccio.
   Chaucer was born into a prosperous London mercantile family (his father was a vintner) and as a boy became a page at the royal court. He made several journeys abroad, sometimes in military service and sometimes on diplomatic missions. One of these missions took him to Italy, where he may have met Boccaccio and Petrarch. He secured a lucrative governmental appointment as a royal customs officer, served as a member of Parliament, and advanced his family in social rank from prosperous middle-class to the outer fringes of the aristocracy.

Historical Dictionary of Renaissance. . 2004.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • CHAUCER, GEOFFREY° — (1340?–1400), English poet. His major work, The Canterbury Tales, written during the final phase of his career (c. 1390), includes one story based on a blood libel . The Prioress s Tale, which reflects contemporary prejudices, is the story of a… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Chaucer, Geoffrey — • Summary of the author s life and literary contributions Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006 …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Chaucer, Geoffrey — born с 1342/43, London?, Eng. died Oct. 25, 1400, London English poet. Of middle class birth, he was a courtier, diplomat, and civil servant, trusted by three kings in his active and varied career, and a poet only by avocation. His first… …   Universalium

  • Chaucer, Geoffrey — (ca. 1343–1400)    Geoffrey Chaucer was the most admired and influential writer of the English Middle Ages. Known chiefly as a narrative poet, particularly for his varied collection of CANTERBURY TALES (ca. 1387–1400) and his tragic verse ROMANCE …   Encyclopedia of medieval literature

  • Chaucer, Geoffrey — (1340? 1400)    Poet, was b. in London, the s. of John C., a vintner of Thames Street, who had also a small estate at Ipswich, and was occasionally employed on service for the King (Edward III.), which doubtless was the means of his son s… …   Short biographical dictionary of English literature

  • Chaucer, Geoffrey — (?1340 1400)    Little is known about Chaucer s life but that he was the son of a rich London wine merchant and that he was a page in the household of Prince Lionel, later duke of Clarence, for many years. In 1359 60 he was with the army of… …   British and Irish poets

  • Chaucer, Geoffrey — ► (1340 1400) Poeta inglés. Autor de obras poéticas, como El libro de la duquesa (1369). Su obra maestra es Los cuentos de Canterbury (1386 1400), narraciones inspiradas en el Decamerón. * * * ( 1342/43, ¿Londres?, Inglaterra–25 oct. 1400,… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Chaucer,Geoffrey — Chau·cer (chôʹsər), Geoffrey. 1340? 1400. English poet regarded as the greatest literary figure of medieval England. His works include The Book of the Duchess (1369), Troilus and Criseyde (c. 1385), and his masterwork, The Canterbury Tales (1387… …   Universalium

  • CHAUCER, GEOFFREY —    the great early English poet, and father of English poetry, the son of a vintner and taverner, born probably in London, where he lived almost all his days; when a lad, served as page in the royal household; won the favour and patronage of the… …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

  • Chaucer — Chaucer, Geoffrey …   Enciclopedia Universal

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