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Chaucer: Ackroyd's Brief Lives Audio CD – Audiobook, CD, Unabridged
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Chaucer is the first of a new series of short biographies, which I am writing with the purpose of bringing to life some of the most important men and women in the history of the world. There is no better agent of human understanding and human knowledge than the course of a single life, with all the events and aspirations, ambitions and achievements, which may accompany it. To enter the consciousness and personality of a man or woman, of any period, is to see that period from within. Peter Ackroyd" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From the Inside Flap
In the first in a new series of brief biographies, bestselling author Peter Ackroyd brilliantly evokes the medieval world of England and provides an incomparable introduction to the great poet's works.
Geoffrey Chaucer, who died in 1400, lived a surprisingly eventful life. He served with the Duke of Clarence and with Edward III, and in 1359 was taken prisoner in France and ransomed. Through his wife, Philippa, he gained the patronage of John of Gaunt, which helped him carve out a career at Court. His posts included Controller of Customs at the Port of London, Knight of the Shire for Kent, and King's Forester. He went on numerous adventurous diplomatic missions to France and Italy. Yet he was also indicted for rape, sued for debt, and captured in battle.
He began to write in the 1360s, and is now known as the father of English poetry. His "Troilus and Criseyde is the first example of modern English literature, and his masterpiece, "The Canterbury Tales, the forerunner of the English novel, dominated the last part of his life.
In his lively style, Peter Ackroyd, one of the most acclaimed biographers and novelists writing today, brings us an eye-opening portrait, rich in drama and colorful historical detail, of a prolific, multifaceted genius. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Because we know so little of the day to day life of Geoffrey Chaucer, Ackroyd rightfully spends a good portion of the book on the manner in which Chaucer’s writings helped shape the national consciousness and national writing style of 14th Century England and how this influence lasted for 400 years. However, due to his position in the courts of multiple English monarchs, his writing style allowed him to write ‘around’ a topic since it was easy to offend these absolute monarchs. While in Florence Italy, Chaucer studied Italian poetry and decided to use some of the Italian poetic structure in his English poems. This strengthened the work and further influenced poetry in the English language. The book is a bit dry, as if Ackroyd does not wish to over-speak or speculate too much and too far. For a scholarly audience, this is welcome. For the everyday reader, the book was a bit to academic.
But for a better understanding of the historical context, I read Donald Howard's Chaucer: His Life, His Works, His World, about the 12th-century beginning of the European Renaissance, including the founding of universities like Oxford, where I used to live. We learn about the plague of 1348-50, which killed half the population of London. Chaucer would have been about 8 years old, and escaped, thanks to his parents taking the family to Southampton.
This book fit the bill. Chaucer was an impressive diplomat for the crown whose service was appreciated by a number of monarchs of the day. The book also discusses his poetry and writing in an interesting and clear manner.
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