Literary and Historical Background
Understanding the text of the General Prologue still leaves many unanswered
questions about the narrative, its characters, its author, and the time in which
it was written. For a general introduction, see Larry Benson’s The
General Prologue, Brother Anthony’s The
General Prologue, or James L. Matterer’s Pilgrims
Passing To and Fro. For the life of Chaucer, see Benson,
R. M. Lumiansky’s Chaucer biography in Bio.com, or the Chaucer
entry in Wikipedia. For historical events of the fourteenth century, begin
with Jane Zatta’s Some
Important Events of the Fourteenth Century (English) or Calgary University’s
The End of the Middle Ages (Europe).
Further Web Exploration
From there the possibilities for further study are numerous. Those wishing
to explore Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales, and aspects of medieval life
and thought will find a wealth of available materials on the web–unfortunately,
not all of them accurate. Caveat lector–let the reader beware! Three
sites that serve as good starting points are these:
Chaucer MetaPage – maintained by a group of university professors, all
Chaucer specialists, who carefully review the quality of sites and materials
before providing links to them. This site also features the MetaMentors,
three university professors who will e-mail answers to serious enquiries
about Chaucer and medieval life.
Harvard Chaucer Page – maintained by Larry Benson, editor of The
Riverside Chaucer. This site provides excellent commentary on The
Canterbury Tales and relevant aspects of medieval life, as well as tools
for research and useful links to other sites
|The Chaucer Pedagogy
Page – maintained by Daniel Kline of the University of Alaska Anchorage.
This site approaches Chaucer studies from the point of view of the teacher
(K-16) who wants to use web-accessible materials. Useful for students as
well, it is kept up to date and has extensive links.
Extensive Research – Books and Articles
Despite the growing number of Chaucer-related materials available on the web,
with few exceptions, those wishing to do involved study of some aspect of the
General Prologue will want to consult the books and journal articles that deal
with their particular interest. To learn what is available, and there is a lot,
consult the excellent Chaucer
bibliographies listed on the Chaucer MetaPage, some of which provide summaries
of all articles and books listed.
For books and articles on general medieval topics (not specifically Chaucerian)
consult Jim Marchand’s WEMSK
bibliographies, compiled by Stephen Carey.
View more information: https://tigerweb.towson.edu/duncan/chaucer/background.htm