Geoffrey Chaucer started work on The Canterbury Tales in about 1387. He portrayed a set of some thirty pilgrims and intended that each pilgrim should tell two stories on the way to Canterbury and two on the way back. But he never finished or revised the work and died in 1400.
He drew his stories from all over Europe, from ancient writers, and from the East. The title of each story came from the name of the pilgrim who told it, e.g. The Pardoner's Tale, and he gave most of the stories a prologue. In this version, [the publishers chose] a title that reflects the story rather than the teller. The prologues become the pilgrims' conversation with each other before a new story is started. Chaucer wrote the stories in Middle English in rhyming verse. The first two lines in the original sound like this:
Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote
The droghte of March hath perced to the roote...
Table of Contents:
The journey begins
The Knight's tale of Chivalry and Rivalry
The Miller's story is A Barrel of Laughs
The Nun's Priest (Brother John) describes The Nightmare Beast of the Firebrand Tail
The Reeve insists on recounting A Racket at the Mill
The Scholar is persuaded to tell us The Test of a Good Wife
The Wife of Bath tells us What Women Most Desire
The Pardoner's gruesome tale, Death's Murderers
A Gem of a Poem called Sir Topas written and recited by myself, Geoffrey Chaucer
The Franklin's romance, entitles Love on the Rocks
The Magistrate's sad story of Snowy Crow
The Canon's Yeoman arrives and warns us of Fool's Gold
Going to the Devil, as told by the Friar
The Merchant's tale of Old January and Young May
Our journey ends in Canterbury
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