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Chaucer: A London Life

Chaucer: A London Life
Ardis Butterfield

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Geoffrey Chaucer (c. 1340-1400) is celebrated as the father of English. Demonstrating for the first time that the English language had greatness and legitimacy, Chaucer's role in the rise of England's self-identity was immense. Yet there was more to Chaucer than national wordsmith. Clerk of the King's Works, and servant of the state, he lived in the seething streets and echoing alleyways of 14th century London. Through his works we hear the voices of everyday Londoners in a way that was not to be repeated until Pepys began his diary. This late medieval capital was a tense and febrile urban environment, convulsed by riot and climaxing in the shattering overthrow of a deserted king. It was also a city in constant and intimate contact with the continent. Chaucer travelled on court and diplomatic business right across Europe, and married a woman from the Low Countries. In this major new biography, the first for many years, Ardis Butterfield opens a window onto this pulsating city, placing the writer in vibrant context. She shows that Chaucer's major works, The Canterbury Tales and Troilus and Crysede, were not written in isolation from but in response to international ideas.London was an innovative capital at the centre of cultural and political events, populated by communities who were now encountering the daring new work of Dante, Petrarch and Boccaccio, written not in Latin but in these poets' own vernaculars.

Far from being a narrowly national writer, Chaucer was cosmopolitan to the core, living, like modern-day Londoners, in one of the most exciting cities on earth.

Author Info

Ardis Butterfield is Reader in English at University College London. A regular contributor to national radio, she is the author and editor of 'Poetry and Music in Medieval France', 'Chaucer and the City' and 'Chaucer and Nation: English and French Writing in the Hundred Years War'.

Bibliographic Info

Imprint: I.B.Tauris
Publisher: I.B.Tauris & Co. Ltd.

ISBN: 9781845118341
Publication Date: 01 Feb 2013

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