Previous this 12 months, Oxford professor of English literature Marion Turner printed The Spouse of Tub: A Biography. Even though you don’t know the rest about that guide’s topic, you’ve virtually undoubtedly heard of her, and most likely additionally of her touring partners just like the Knight, the Summoner, the Nun’s Priest, and the Canon’s Yeoman. Those are simply among the pilgrims whose storytelling contest buildings Geoffrey Chaucer’s fourteenth-century magnum opus The Canterbury Stories, whose affect continues to reverberate via English literature, even most of these centuries after the creator’s demise. In commemoration of the 623rd anniversary of that paintings, the British Library has opened an unlimited on-line Chaucer archive.
This archive comes as a end result of what the Father or mother‘s Caroline Davies describes as “a two and a part 12 months mission to add 25,000 photographs of the steadily elaborately illustrated medieval manuscripts.” Amongst those artifacts are “entire copies of Chaucer’s poems but in addition distinctive survivals, together with fragmentary texts present in Center English anthologies or inscribed in revealed editions and incunabula (books revealed prior to 1501).”
In the event you’re in search of The Canterbury Stories, you’ll in finding no fewer than 23 variations of it, the earliest of which “used to be written only some years after Chaucer’s demise in more or less 1400.” Additionally digitized are “uncommon copies of the 1476 and 1483 editions of the textual content made via William Caxton,” now regarded as “the primary vital textual content to be revealed 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 referred to as “essentially the most stunning of all revealed books“: the Kelmscott Chaucer, in the past featured right here on Open Tradition, which you’ll additionally discover within the British Library’s new archive (as least once its ongoing cyber attack-related problems are resolved). As its wider contents disclose, Chaucer used to be the creator of now not simply The Canterbury Stories but in addition quite a few different poems, the classical-dream-vision tale assortment The Legend of Excellent 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 would possibly sound acquainted, due to the muse it gave, greater than 200 years later, to a countryman via the identify of William Shakespeare.
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Based totally in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on towns, language, and tradition. His tasks come with the Substack e-newsletter Books on Towns, the guide The Stateless Town: a Stroll via Twenty first-Century Los Angeles and the video collection The Town in Cinema. Practice him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Fb.