Earlier this yr, Oxford professor of English literature Marion Turner printed The Spouse of Bathtub: A Biography. Even in case you don’t know something about that e-book’s topic, you’ve nearly actually heard of her, and maybe additionally of her touring companions just like the Knight, the Summoner, the Nun’s Priest, and the Canon’s Yeoman. These are only a few of the pilgrims whose storytelling contest constructions Geoffrey Chaucer’s fourteenth-century magnum opus The Canterbury Tales, whose affect continues to reverberate via English literature, even all these centuries after the creator’s loss of life. In commemoration of the 623rd anniversary of that work, the British Library has opened an enormous on-line Chaucer archive.
This archive comes as a fruits of what the Guardian‘s Caroline Davies describes as “a two and a half yr mission to add 25,000 photographs of the customarily elaborately illustrated medieval manuscripts.” Amongst these artifacts are “full copies of Chaucer’s poems but in addition distinctive survivals, together with fragmentary texts present in Center English anthologies or inscribed in printed editions and incunabula (books printed earlier than 1501).”
Should you’re searching for The Canterbury Tales, you’ll discover no fewer than 23 variations of it, the earliest of which “was written only some years after Chaucer’s loss of life in roughly 1400.” Additionally digitized are “uncommon copies of the 1476 and 1483 editions of the textual content made by William Caxton,” now thought of “the primary important textual content to be printed in England.”
4 centuries later, designer-writer-social reformer William Morris collaborated with celebrated painter Edward Burne-Jones to create an version W. B. Yeats as soon as known as “essentially the most stunning of all printed books“: the Kelmscott Chaucer, beforehand featured right here on Open Tradition, which you may also discover within the British Library’s new archive (as least as quickly as its ongoing cyber attack-related points are resolved). As its wider contents reveal, Chaucer was the creator of not simply The Canterbury Tales but in addition quite a lot of different poems, the classical-dream-vision story assortment The Legend of Good Ladies, an instruction guide for an astrolabe, and translations of The Romance of the Rose and The Comfort of Philosophy. And his Trojan epic Troilus and Criseyde might sound acquainted, because of the inspiration it gave, greater than 200 years later, to a countryman by the identify of William Shakespeare.
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Primarily based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and tradition. His initiatives embrace the Substack publication Books on Cities, the e-book The Stateless Metropolis: a Stroll via Twenty first-Century Los Angeles and the video collection The Metropolis in Cinema. Comply with him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Fb.