Earlier this yr, Oxford professor of English literature Marion Turner revealed The Spouse of Bathtub: A Biography. Even in the event 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 just some of the pilgrims whose storytelling contest constructions Geoffrey Chaucer’s fourteenth-century magnum opus The Canterbury Tales, whose affect continues to reverberate by English literature, even all these centuries after the creator’s dying. 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 end result of what the Guardian‘s Caroline Davies describes as “a two and a half yr mission to add 25,000 pictures of the customarily elaborately illustrated medieval manuscripts.” Amongst these artifacts are “full copies of Chaucer’s poems but additionally distinctive survivals, together with fragmentary texts present in Center English anthologies or inscribed in printed editions and incunabula (books printed earlier than 1501).”
For those who’re in search of 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 dying in roughly 1400.” Additionally digitized are “uncommon copies of the 1476 and 1483 editions of the textual content made by William Caxton,” now thought-about “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 referred to as “essentially the most stunning of all printed books“: the Kelmscott Chaucer, beforehand featured right here on Open Tradition, which you can even 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 additionally a wide range of different poems, the classical-dream-vision story assortment The Legend of Good Girls, an instruction handbook 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, due to the inspiration it gave, greater than 200 years later, to a countryman by the title of William Shakespeare.
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Based mostly in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and tradition. His initiatives embrace the Substack e-newsletter Books on Cities, the e-book The Stateless Metropolis: a Stroll by Twenty first-Century Los Angeles and the video sequence The Metropolis in Cinema. Observe him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Fb.