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 one of the finest examples of Middle English literature, and his masterpiece, The Canterbury Tales, is a forerunner of the English novel.
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, color, and historical detail, of a prolific, multifaceted genius.
©2005 Peter Ackroyd; (P)2005 Tantor Media, Inc.
"Simon Vance delivers his account with crispness, clarity, and flair. Chaucer's English was markedly different from ours, but Vance delivers both the lines in the original Middle English and in contemporary translation dramatically. Listeners can feel the rhythm pulsing in Chaucer's words." (AudioFile)
"Ackroyd has set the bar very high." (Booklist)
Ackroyd has given us a hearty antidote for those drunk on nostalgia for the "good ol' days." Life hasn't really changed that much through the ages and there were no "good ol' days." Writers have always had to struggle with financial, personal and political matters. The works they hand down to us are as much indebted to windows of opportunity, fickle muses and cosmic whimsy as anything else . . . but perhaps that's not so bad. Or perhaps such forces are necessary for brilliance to emerge. Certainly, this bio makes one appreciate everything that is required for good lit to be born from the bog of daily life. I dare you to listen to this book and not go squirreling into your library to re-read the Canterbury Tales and Troilus and Cressida.
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