Chaucer: A European Life

Chaucer: A European Life[PDF / Epub] ★ Chaucer: A European Life ✪ Marion Turner – Heartforum.co.uk A groundbreaking biography that recreates the cosmopolitan world in which a wine merchant s son became one of the most celebrated of all English poetsMore than any other canonical English writer Geoff A groundbreaking biography that recreates the cosmopolitan world in which a wine merchant s son became Chaucer: A MOBI :Ä one of the most celebrated of all English poetsMore than any other canonical English writer Geoffrey Chaucer lived and worked at the centre of political life yet his poems are anything but conventional Edgy complicated and often dark they reflect a conflicted world and their astonishing diversity and innovative language earned Chaucer renown as the father of English literature Marion Turner however reveals him as a great European writer and thinker To understand his accomplishment she reconstructs in unprecedented detail the cosmopolitan world of Chaucer s adventurous life focusing on the places and spaces that fired his imaginationUncovering important new information about Chaucer s travels private life and the early circulation of his writings this innovative biography documents a series of vivid episodes moving from the commercial wharves of London to the frescoed chapels of Florence and the kingdom of Navarre where Christians Muslims and Jews lived side by side The narrative recounts Chaucer s experiences as a prisoner of war in France as a father visiting his daughter s nunnery as a member of a chaotic Parliament and as a diplomat in Milan where he encountered the writings of Dante and Boccaccio At the same time the book offers a comprehensive exploration of Chaucer s writings taking the reader to the Troy of Troilus and Criseyde the gardens of the dream visions and the peripheries and thresholds of The Canterbury TalesBy exploring the places Chaucer visited the buildings he inhabited the books he read and the art and objects he saw this landmark biography tells the extraordinary story of how a wine merchant s son became the poet of The Canterbury Tales.

Marion Turner is associate professor of English at Jesus College University of Oxford.

Chaucer: A European Life ePUB î Chaucer: A  MOBI
  • Hardcover
  • 624 pages
  • Chaucer: A European Life
  • Marion Turner
  • English
  • 09 October 2016
  • 0691160090

10 thoughts on “Chaucer: A European Life

  1. Antonomasia says:

    Would you be interested in material from a final year undergrad or masters history module on England After the Black Death That s what quite a lot of this biography is like It gives serious weight to the historical background and context of Chaucer s life and writing, and assumes pre existing knowledge I d have jumped at the chance to study this topic back when I was at university it wasn t available so I was delighted with the unexpected level of historical detail However, for some ge Would you be interested in material from a final year undergrad or masters history module on England After the Black Death That s what quite a lot of this biography is like It gives serious weight to the historical background and context of Chaucer s life and writing, and assumes pre existing knowledge I d have jumped at the chance to study this topic back when I was at university it wasn t available so I was delighted with the unexpected level of historical detail However, for some general readers, this book won t be quite what they want or expect from an author biography To read cover to cover, and especially on audio as I listened to most of it , I would only recommend it to people with a reasonable grounding in late medieval English history, who are unfazed by, and preferably actively interested in, discussion of the wool staple, Lollardy and so forth Some things, like the Good Parliament and John of Gaunt, get so much detail that it probably doesn t matter if they were only names to you at the beginning, though this is certainly a book where it helps to have existing scaffolding on which to put all the new stuff it will tell you There is some excellent and detailed analysis of all of Chaucer s works and instances of original and meticulous archival research, producing new dates for documents and new connections but if it s just the literary angle you want, you d be better simply dipping into Chaucer A European Life.For all the historical content, Chaucer himself, and his work, are viewed here through a very contemporary lens At one point, Turner says that The Parlement of Foules only makes sense as a text that is post Good Parliament April July 1376 but pre Wonderful Parliament Oct Nov 1386 I reckon Chaucer A European Life will make most sense in future as a text that is post Brexit referendum June 2016 but pre Brexit or some defining event or phase in the years shortly after Brexit One UKreviewer describes Marion Turner s Chaucer as a proto Lib Dem Remain voter Quite frankly, they re right, and the only way in which he differs noticeably from said political caricature is a genuine and deep interest in the English regions, and especially the voices of a wide range of ordinary people He is from a middle class family in the South of England He travels to Europe for work He is well connected to top people and works as a senior civil servant He does business with, and stands up for, European immigrants, at a time of increased populist xenophobia which is co opted by other factions of powerful men for their own ends, and which has its roots in economic and employment issues and legislation that exacerbates them.The angles on Chaucer s works are also very contemporary From an academic book I d hope for some really fresh, new ideas, but whilst there is one fairly novel and interesting approach to examine how the work was shaped by the physical spaces the author inhabited, from changing domestic architecture, to commute, to libraries and royal courts visited it often felt less present than other angles and attendant phrases very familiar from online culture wars discussion, e.g who gets to have their voice heard , women s voices Although Turner never actually uses the phrase the single story it s implied so strongly that it may as well appear in the book several times Chaucer and Ovid are presented as authors who write, and who are interested in, multiple voices and women s voices in the other, single story camp are supporters of imperialism imperialist language and iconography was growing at this time, and was used by, among others, Bernarbo Visconti and Richard II and aristocratic power Dante, Petrarch and Virgil It was interesting and, actually, surprising, to hear a positive mention of Ovid in this context, as 95% of discussion of Ovid I saw during the 2010s was in articles and social media posts about rape scenes and trigger warnings I still can t quite compute recent material about him that makes no reference to that Turner doesn t and it was perplexing to find this, from a clearly social justice minded writer, painting him as good at writing women, when almost everything else recently says he is one of the worst, without explaining where that fitted in There seems to be a subtext again responding to a 2010s social media conversation that yes, Chaucer was a middle to upper middle class white man, but his representations of women and of other classes were so good, at a time from which relatively few literary works survive, that you should totally read him anyway Another count on which Petrarch is pitted against Chaucer is on that medieval binary opposition of otium versus negotium Whilst Petrarch, as described here, did not advocate total hermitic isolation, Turner explains how he favoured a retreat to the country to write with one s books, and correspondence with a small circle of intellectual male friends Many examples are given from Chaucer s poems in which he exhorts both the reader and fictional versions of himself 20th century postmodernists did not invent authorial insertion to get out of the study or the house and talk to other people Reading and studying was then quite a new practice for laypeople, and whilst the tide of opinion seems to have been in favour of it, Chaucer seems to have felt there wasto be lost than to be gained from it Thus one can see where Turner s Chaucer implicitly stands on some other contemporary media debates in their most simplified and facile versions stop sitting on your own with the internet and talk to people IRL don t let yourself get into an echo chamber or bubble be part of urban revitalisation rather than decamping to the countryside Most of the time this contemporary lens seemed to me like a reasonable way of looking at the politics of the 14th century, as it was always thoroughly reasoned and not glib unlike countless introductions and asides in recent TV history documentaries, which sound like they are scoring cheap points, and which may alienate a percentage of viewers, among types of people that many of those working in television never meet However, Turner s Chaucer, as a character portrait, suffers rather from being the only modern man , that trope of historical fiction Also, I think the best history writing is explicit about how interpretations are made in and affected by the present day context, and how they follow those made in other times which had different contexts that is where Turner fails big time The best example of this type of historiography I ve ever read is in Ronald Hutton s Pagan Britain 2013 Though Turner is, of course, primarily a literature scholar, and they operate somewhat differently it seems rarer that they take a detached or longer perspective on the trends and conditions influencing their field in the present.When I first started listening to Chaucer A European Life in summer 2019, I was disappointed by its modernity and gave up However looking back now I think this had a lot to do with my irritability in hot weather I felt vindicated by this review in the Los Angeles Review of Books, with paragraphs likeThis is a comfortable version of Chaucer, ready for easy and wide public consumption he s cosmopolitan, secular, broadminded, politically savvy yet independent The book s deliberate accessibility, and its evocation of arelatable Chaucer, deserves some praise But this approach runs a risk, that the same enthusiasm to make Chauceraccessible will gloss over what makes him uneasily medieval, someone who thought and moved through the world in ways impossibly remote and alien to us.I want that alienness and remoteness I want my history and translations to be made strange as the phrase goes It s quite a lot of what I m reading it for It seemed as if this was a mirror image of books like Graham Robb s The Discovery of France, which greatly exaggerates how old fashioned and primitive things were.But actually, as I realised when I started listening again in December Chaucer A European Life could be a lot worse on this count It is, per se, accurate We do hear just how long it takes to travel across Europe on diplomatic missions one of the things I always crave from history is hearing about details of life in a lower technology world We do hear about people who, surprisingly, continued to be treated as respectable members of society despite things that one would have thought based on Victorian or 20th century morality would bar them from that, and not just nobility, but men like an overseer of production standards for a guild near Chaucer s childhood home, who had multiple convictions for street violence, or scribes who were also brothel keepers among the earliest known owners of Chaucer manuscripts I suspect that as the population was much lower, there just weren t enough skilled people for it to make sense to boot someone out for things like this It would be interesting to see if there were any difference before and after the Black Death though compared with current population levels where most workers are replaceable, that would be a marginal difference We hear about the frequency of kidnappings for marriage not just that this was one of the possibilities in the Cecily Chaumpaigne case long a question over Chaucer s reputation, appearing in legal records as raptus, an ambiguous term at the time since the publication of Turner s book, new evidence has appeared which lends a modicum of weight to the kidnapping argument but also about how Chaucer s father, as a boy, was abducted by an aunt who wanted to marry him off to her female heir But the focus on implicit parallels with current politics, and on emphasising points about the works that chime with social media, means that these things often feel merely like occasional aberrations Overall, it feels like we don t hear about that many of the things on which the 2016 2019 comfortably off Lib Dem Remain voter type would disagree with Chaucer or find baffling or unrelatable about him or his world In particular, after the early chapters, there isn t enough sense of the precariousness of being alive, of memento mori imagery, usually seen to characterise the generations who survived, and lived just after, the Black Death, and of the psychological and practical effects of repeated onslaughts from a new andvirulent epidemic disease and how people responded to it Chaucer, both here and aswidely portrayed, is of a piece and perhaps he really was with Shakespeare and Dickens not just a master wordsmith but an extrovert, politically canny, and financially astute to boot These qualities are what seem to make a classic writer appeal to tub thumping Englishness, not just to academics or avid readers or romantics Someone to go down the pub with, someone you d take advice from I am glad to have learnt so muchabout the political history of later 14th century England stuff I m unlikely to have bothered with if it weren t sandwiched withappealing social and cultural history like this, and I enjoyed Turner s interpretations of the texts I hope to finally read The Canterbury Tales in full sooner rather than later to take advantage of the new ways of looking at it given here For some reason, I d been fascinated by the title The Parliament of Fowls since I was a child but a babysitter who was an Eng Lit student told me it was actually boring, and put me off trying to read it ever since now I can replace that with Turner s explanation of it as a poem about a 1370s parliament, about representatives of those lower down the social scale asserting their voices, power and worth though that just means gentry as opposed to aristocracy.Sometimes, in Turner s biography, Chaucer s texts are texts, in a Barthian sense, butoften than not her interpretations are grounded in their historical context The context for that interpretation, in its turn, has just been inadvertently provided by another LARB piece, Reading Shakespeare in the Anthropocene For the past 25 years, the dominant mood in scholarship on early modern literature has been New Historicist, and what this means is that a generation or two of scholars have been trained to see these old texts as documents of and about the past. I feel very seen by this Often New Historicism is mentioned casually as a thing of the past, even of the 1980s But according to this take, I was at university around the beginning of this current recent phase most of my favourite courses were intellectual history, often using texts that, I see now from spendingtime in the online book world, Literature thinks of as its property sometimes disliking such anthropological readings of texts This study was, in part, the root of my approach to any literature, as a document of and about its and its author s time and place, though I always had seen it this way to an extent, as long as I had been aware of the publication dates of books I read Possibly the audience for Chaucer A European Life is limited by the depth with which it treats both history and literature but there will also be some readers for whom it s a bonus to hear about each, and how they entwine.If you are reading this post on desktop, there is lotsdetail below in the status updates Listened from June, but mostly Dec, 2019 to Jan 2020 reviewed Jan 2020 Note April 2020 So that would probably be pre coronavirus pandemic I reckon the 14th century fear of disease and subsequent plague outbreaks would getattention if this biography were still being written just now We re yet to see much of how to what extent the pandemic will alter political tribalism

  2. Karen Brooks says:

    This newest biography of Geoffrey Chaucer, the medieval poet, diplomat and court official is a tour de force Whereas other biographies of the poet have examined what can be gleaned of this amazing man s life from various contemporary documents, art, funeral effigies, family trees, etc as well as his marvellous fictive works, Marion Turner starts with the premise that one writes what one knows, drawing on the familiar to compose fiction and fabliaux Assuming this was also what Chaucer did, eve This newest biography of Geoffrey Chaucer, the medieval poet, diplomat and court official is a tour de force Whereas other biographies of the poet have examined what can be gleaned of this amazing man s life from various contemporary documents, art, funeral effigies, family trees, etc as well as his marvellous fictive works, Marion Turner starts with the premise that one writes what one knows, drawing on the familiar to compose fiction and fabliaux Assuming this was also what Chaucer did, even when translating and appropriating other sources, she uses his works as a primary source as well as many, many relevant contemporary documents and the work of chroniclers to make sense of the various events in his life Afterall, whether it was to whom he dedicated a piece of work or a character like the real life Harry Baily owner of the Tabard Inn in Southwark who hosts the Canterbury Pilgrims, Chaucer wrote what and who he knew As a consequence, this biography not only takes on a rich and new relevance as Turner invites us to examine everything Chaucer worked upon and rewrote and reworked, such as his tribute to the Duchess, Blanche Lancaster, The Book of the Duchess, or his translation and retelling of The Romance of the Rose or his unfinished and arguably greatest or best known work, The Canterbury Tales, as a critique of both his own life and the times Further, as Turner delves deeper into Chaucer s works, she also deconstructs them and their meaning, providing another layer of denotation to not just Chaucer s life, but his poetry So this book is both biography and a wonderful literary analysis The title alludes to the fact that though Chaucer was a Londoner by birth and for most of his life, a man of the court, streets and castles and estates beyond, he was also very much a man of the world, traveling to various foreign ports for king and country, negotiating royal marriages, loans, fighting wars, able to speak other languages naturally, French and Latin, but also Italian , meeting with despots, mercenaries and nobles He also encountered the works of some of the greatest writers of the era and allowed them to influence his writings Dante, Petrarch and Boccaccio among them He was perceived as a man of worth not because of his birth, but because of his formidable talents and skills and his ability to dine with princes and paupers So much so, he was ransomed for the kingly sum of 16 pounds when he was captured by the French when still very young He was a man of the world as much as he was of the kingdom of his birth.Patronised by John of Gaunt and paid annuities by three kings, Chaucer bore witness to many great and tragic events of his age royal ascensions, falls, death, births, the plague, wars, famine, riots and rebellions as well as unjust and just behaviour Married to Philippa, the sister of John of Gant s infamous mistress and later wife, Katherine Swynford, he was also close to the centre of power inthan physical ways Chaucer witnessed the best and worst of human behaviour and relationships and among all walks of life what love, war, power, avarice, lust etc can do to people, how it can bring out the best and worst and never lost his fascination for writing about these and the people who experienced them Able to remain on the right side of the monarch and the powers surrounding him for most of his life, Chaucer, though famous within his own lifetime, also managed to fly under the sometimes very taut and tense radar surrounding his primary patron, Gaunt, who was variously accused of treason, plotting against the king and was, for an extended period, the most hated man in England as the peasants and others blamed him for all the country s perceived ills So bad did feelings run, that during the Peasants Revolt of 1381, and which it s likely Chaucer witnessed from his rooms above Aldgate, Gaunt s main residence, the palatial and beautiful Savoy, was utterly destroyed It s testimony to Chaucer that, unlike other Lancastrian cronies during the 1380s and 1390s, he managed to stay in the king s Richard II s good graces and thus avoid punishment, exile or death when so many others failed Turner beautifully extrapolates how and why this may have happened in no small part due to Chaucer s great understanding of human nature and ability to walk in others shoes regardless of birth, education, beliefs, and even sex all of which we re privy to through his works Perhaps the greatest irony is that while Chaucer was able to describe in allegorical and rich detail the pathos, sadness and joy love can bring, and place in his character s mouths all sorts of notions about amour and marriage, his own doesn t appear to have been too successful Despite this, his children went on to accomplish things their middle class father, the son of a vintner, could once have only dreamed and which Chaucer, with his focus throughout his works on gentillesse as a worthy quality, despite rank, would have nonetheless appreciated Some of the greatest bloodlines, houses and nobles descend from Chaucer s grand children But the greatest gift he left us, and which Turner mainly celebrates and helps us to appreciate even , are his works But it s as the father of English Literature that he s best remembered the man who gave the English their own poetry and voice in their own language, with eloquence, imagination, humour and beauty This is a fabulous, erudite piece of scholarship that s also beautifully written and easily understood A wonderful addition to the Chaucer canon and a great read for anyone interested in history, poetry, literary analysis and, of course, the enigmatic, clever and always creative, Chaucer

  3. J M-B says:

    It would be unfortunate if the many who have marked this book as to read are put off by the few negative reviews that it has attracted on this site The life records of Chaucer are limited and are pretty much identical to those published by the Chaucer Society in the Nineteenth century Inevitably, new biographers need to bring new perspectives and interpretive insights to both those life records and the works of Chaucer This Marion Turner does really quite brilliantly Her focus on localisin It would be unfortunate if the many who have marked this book as to read are put off by the few negative reviews that it has attracted on this site The life records of Chaucer are limited and are pretty much identical to those published by the Chaucer Society in the Nineteenth century Inevitably, new biographers need to bring new perspectives and interpretive insights to both those life records and the works of Chaucer This Marion Turner does really quite brilliantly Her focus on localising his social and geographical settings provides a rich and productive frame for analysis of his development and the impact of place social as well as spatial on his work This is particularly visible in her treatment of the antisemitism in the always problematic tale of the Prioress in The Canterbury Tales Turner s book is not a work that is beyond the interested lay reader and it is one that well repays the effort of following her account of his life and her readings of his works

  4. Ann Otto says:

    This book is based on academic research with detailed notations at the bottom of each page I had hoped for a Simon Schama type work, well researched yet very readable and interesting to the lay reader These 508 pages and 90 additional pages of bibliography and index are possibly excellent resources for researchers, but the narrative doesn t engage the lay reader or entice them to go further into Chaucer s works.

  5. Becky Loader says:

    Not quite what I expected a bio and a critique of the writings of Chaucer A huge behemoth of a volume to read

  6. Antonio Gallo says:

    Geoffrey Chaucer fu pi che uno scrittore inglese Fu anche un grande poeta Europeo E stato uno dei primi autori che ho dovuto conoscere agli inizi dei miei studi in lingua inglese Questo recente libro pubblicato da una studiosa dell Universit di Oxford lo conferma sin da titolo che d al suo libro Chaucer A European life Si deve tenere bene in mente che stiamo parlando di uno scrittore vissuto tra il 1340 e il 1400 Secoli che fanno la differenza Parlare di Europa pu essere considerato Geoffrey Chaucer fu pi che uno scrittore inglese Fu anche un grande poeta Europeo E stato uno dei primi autori che ho dovuto conoscere agli inizi dei miei studi in lingua inglese Questo recente libro pubblicato da una studiosa dell Universit di Oxford lo conferma sin da titolo che d al suo libro Chaucer A European life Si deve tenere bene in mente che stiamo parlando di uno scrittore vissuto tra il 1340 e il 1400 Secoli che fanno la differenza Parlare di Europa pu essere considerato da qualcuno quanto meno azzardato L autrice del libro scrive in un articolo uscito sulla apprezzata rivista digitale internazionale AEON che l inglese Chaucer, oltre che narratore, fu anche poeta e per giunta pu essere considerato uno dei primi poeti e scrittori di risonanza europea Per provare questa sua affermazione, legata anche alla sua modernit ed attualit , l autrice cita un articolo apparso nella rivista mensile Prospect del 2013 in cui si paragona il partito di Nigel Farage, capo sostenitore dei fautori dell uscita dall Unione Europea, a quella colorita umanit di uomini e donne inglesi che appaiono nei famosi Racconti di Canterbury, veri e propri archetipi di chiara estrazione inglese , tanto di ieri, quanto di oggi E a questo proposito che la studiosa Marion Turner mette in scena la inglesit dei racconti di Canterbury e afferma la modernit di uno scrittore e poeta inglese che sarebbe diventato anche europeo Ogni attento lettore ne pu avere conferma leggendo le cronache che arrivano in questi giorni con tutti i media moderni dal Parlamento britannico I suoi membri, rappresentanti della pi antica democrazia del mondo, sono stati addirittura paragonati a degli scimpanz Tutto a causa di una lunga serie di circostanze e comportamenti legati alla politica ed ai sentimenti che gli inglesi hanno dimostrato di avere nei confronti della realt europea Isolani che hanno considerato sempre il Continente isolato a causa della nebbia sulla Manica.Questa identit va ritrovata, secondo le scrittrice, in quei racconti che costituiscono il libro e che hanno concorso a dargli la fama di Padre della Letteratura Inglese , oltre che rappresentante dell intera nazione inglese Questi racconti videro la luce nel 1387 Quando l autore pass a miglior vita, venne sepolto nell Abbazia di Westminster perch era ivi residente 150 anni dopo venne spostato nel cosiddetto angolo dei poeti John Dryden lo nomin father della poesia inglese, con l aggiunta che Chaucer rappresentava l intera nazione.Col passare del tempo anche i Vittoriani furono convinti della Englishness di Chaucer, Inglese fino all osso , per cos dire Fu G K Chesterton a portare il figlio del vinaio al massimo della inglesit quando ebbe modo di scrivere Chaucer fu il Padre del suo Paese, alla maniera di George Washington Lo scrittore e critico Peter Ackroyd, nel suo libro Brief Lives del 2004 descrive i Canterbury Tales come una epica di Inglesit , definendo Chaucer geniale e sorridente emblema di Inglesit .Forse questa veste di Englishness sarebbe apparsa strana allo stesso Chaucer Egli infatti fu in grado di trasformare la poesia inglese proprio a causa del suo innato internazionalismo, in quanto, come tutte le persone istruite del suo tempo, egli conosceva diverse lingue, la filosofia antica, le traduzioni latine dei trattati scientifici arabi, la poesia d a francese La sua buona conoscenza dell italiano, i suoi viaggi in Italia, gli diedero l opportunit di conoscere la poesia di Dante, Boccaccio e Petrarca Per queste sue caratteristiche conoscenze pu essere considerato un fenomeno europeo Seppe trasferirle al meglio nella sua cultura, non dimentichiamolo, in un epoca che non aveva nulla di moderno con tutte le sue reti di comunicazione.L influenza di questi poeti italiani cambi la poesia inglese Lo sviluppo del pentametro, ad esempio, le dieci sillabe, i cinque accenti, il tutto divenne la forma del verso inglese ispirata dall endecasillabo italiano Fu lui a tradurre per primo il sonetto di Petrarca in inglese Questo internazionalismo smentisce l idea di archetipi inglesi dei pellegrini di Canterbury Il personaggio della moglie di Bath ben lontano dal prototipo iscritto al partito dell UKIP La moglie di Bath assomiglia di pi a quella del Roman de la Rose francese e agli stereotipi latini di San Gerolamo nel Adversus Jovinian L idea di un gruppo di persone che raccontano storie mentre sono in viaggio nacque da fonti diverse, tra le quali Boccaccio con il Decamerone Molti dei racconti di Canterbury non hanno luogo in Inghilterra L ambientazione va dall Asia Centrale alla Siria, al nord Italia, passando per le Fiandre Poche sono le fonti inglesi Il primo viaggio che Chaucer fece sul continente ebbe luogo nel 1359 Non aveva nemmeno 20 anni Combatt nella Guerra dei Cento anni , venne fatto prigioniero a Reims, visit la citt di Navarre, oggi nella Spagna del Nord, allora un Paese indipendente, una comunit multiculturale dove Ebrei, Musulmani e Cristiani coesistevano in una realt piuttosto pacifica Fece due viaggi in Italia in missione diplomatica, visit la Lombardia, Firenze e Genova Fu spesso in Francia a negoziare trattati, favorire matrimoni di interesse, alleanze, territori di confine, allora sotto forte una forte influenza della politica inglese.Gran parte della sua formazione sia mercantile, commerciale e diplomatica, che linguistica e culturale, la fece sul campo, in aree diverse, di spiccato carattere europeo Apparteneva, inoltre, ad una famiglia che dei traffici e del commercio aveva fatto la sua ragion d essere Era nato in una zona di Londra dove, sul Tamigi, vedeva passare navi piene sia di mercanti che di immigranti, un andare e venire da tutto il mondo Un sistema commerciale gi molto avviato ed organizzato, collegato con l Asia, l Africa e il resto dell Europa Ebbe modo di crescere e formarsi in maniera autonoma e indipendente di quello che oggi chiameremmo economia ed interscambio globale.Quando entr al servizio prima dei figli e poi del Re stesso, pot prendere parte alle vita internazionale di Corte Si spos anche con una donna di Hainault di origine franco belga Le sue idee politiche erano legate strettamente alla sua identit inglese, all epoca monopolista ed anche xenofoba Fu sempre, comunque, un internazionalista, anche se avanti lettera Quando verso il 1370 i commercianti di Londra diffusero le voci che i concorrenti mercanti italiani lucravano nel commercio della lana e pretendevano il monopolio dal Parlamento, li denunziarono come sodomiti, ebrei e saraceni e li bandirono da questo commercio In questo periodo Chaucer aveva lavorato e viaggiato verso Genova con mercanti italiani per negoziare la disputa insieme a John Gaunt uno degli coloro che si opponevano ai monopolisti.Secondo l autrice del libro la inglesit di Chaucer va trovata nella sua capacit di saper negoziare ed operare a livello europeo Egli, oltre che un controllore doganale del commercio della lana, fu anche operatore in questo settore commerciale Fu in contatto con operatori economici come l italiano Matthew Janyn, noto finanziatore del Re Richard Lyons, Jacobi Provan e John de Mari sono nomi noti in questo ambiente, sono a lui collegati in scambi economici e commerciali negli anni dal 1374 al 1385 Geoffrey Chaucer ha poco a che vedere con la tranquilla immagine riprodotta sui molti libri scritti su di lui Possiamo oggi immaginare la sua giovanile presenza per le strade affollate della Londra del tempo, oppure quando attraversava a piedi i Pirenei, maturo diplomatico conoscitore della poesia italiana a Pavia, ammiratore degli affreschi di Giotto a Firenze, cortigiano della Regina di Boemia, l uomo diventato marito di una donna di Hainaut di nome Philippa Un poeta che oltre che occuparsi di storie e di poesia, seppe anche scrivere sui mercati di Bruges e Parigi, sui tiranni della Lombardia e sui cortigiani cinesi di Gengis Khan Sogn , persino, di viaggiare nello spazio, si nutr di letture di Ovidio, Boezio, Dante, Machaut e Boccaccio Ebbe una immaginazione ed una fantasia oltre ogni limite Chiamare Chaucer padre della letteratura inglese certamente riduttivo Egli fu uno dei pi grandi uomini di cultura europea Avrebbe di certo compreso, anche se, forse, non accettato, le indecisioni sulla Brexit che tormentano oggi i suoi connazionali, a distanza di diversi secoli, nel loro atteggiamento nei confronti dell Unione Europea Il suo essere tanto inglese quanto europeo, in un tempo in cui non si poteva ancora parlare di Europa, evidenzia, a mio modesto parere, il senso di quello che si intende comunemente per Englishness una insularit che non ha pi nulla di isolazionismo o individualismo, come avrebbe potuto avere un tempo Se mai, questo sentimento, ci sia davvero stato Si tratta, piuttosto, di una tendenza che spinge verso l appartenenza Un isola con i suoi abitanti e le loro idee che spingono inevitabilmente verso il continente al quale, comunque, l isola appartiene Ogni isola, ed ogni isolano, soffre di queste tensioni Non pu essere diversamente con Britannia Rileggere Geoffrey Chaucer a distanza di oltre mezzo secolo da quando lo conobbi sulle dispense universitarie del prof Elio Chinol, al mio ritorno a casa sul continente, dopo oltre due anni di lavoro e di studio sull isola di Amleto, ha avuto per me il significato di una vera e propria riscoperta in chiave moderna ed attuale del significato che siamo soliti dare a queste due parole Englishness e Europeanness Un confronto, un dissidio, una sfida, un paragone, chiamatelo come volete, tutto in nome di un altro termine che alla base di tutto identit Non poteva essere diversamente con l isola sia di Albione che di Amleto Geoffrey Chaucer possedeva sia l una che l altra era inglese ed europeo Non sarebbe potuto essere un inglese se non fosse stato europeo Alla stessa maniera di come non sarebbe potuto essere europeo senza essere prima un inglese

  7. J.A. Ironside says:

    As a writer of historical fiction, I ve long held the opinion that to really take the pulse of an era, to capture its mindset, you need to read the poetry written at that time Marion Turner seems to be proving that theory correct with her book Chaucer A European Life is a fascinating account of England s second national poet and an essential resource for the Medieval historical fiction writer More than merely a discussion of the Canterbury Tales, the book tracks Geoffrey Chaucer s career, l As a writer of historical fiction, I ve long held the opinion that to really take the pulse of an era, to capture its mindset, you need to read the poetry written at that time Marion Turner seems to be proving that theory correct with her book Chaucer A European Life is a fascinating account of England s second national poet and an essential resource for the Medieval historical fiction writer More than merely a discussion of the Canterbury Tales, the book tracks Geoffrey Chaucer s career, looking at his childhood in Vintryward, his time serving in great houses, and the number of other jobs he held We remember Chaucer as first and foremost, a poet, but he was also a soldier, a diplomat, a forester, a royal servant, a retainer of the royal household, a clerk in the Savoy Palace and Clerk of the Works Yes, fellow writers, even Chaucer had a day job He was a polymath, a multilingual common man who rose based on his own merits in an England and Europe which was only just emerging from the older Villeinage based feudal system into somethingrecognisable to today s readers Chaucer travelled widely and as a consequence his poetry reflected his change in awareness and perspective from being an art form reserved for the great and wealthy, to a form which poked fun at the world whilst still posing difficult questions He never answered these questions but left the reader or listener as it would have been in 14th C to draw their own conclusions Nor does York shy away from some of Chaucer s shadier dealings the accusation of rape made against him by Cecily Champagne or whether he was so tied up in Lancastrian dealings that his loyalties to the realm were corrupted As York points out, we cannot absolutely know Chaucer the man or what he thought or, where there is no evidence, what he did, but York lays out her case in a way which shows what conclusions are possible or even probable, leaving the reader to make up their own mind It s an amazingly well researched and gripping book, with the added bonus of lots of details of Medieval life that most historical texts just don t concern themselves with If you re writing histfic set around the 13th and 14th C or are interested in that period, this is an excellent starting point for those details that make up world building, mindset and politics I read the audiobook, read by York herself She s an engaging narrator even with a few odd ways of pronouncing certain words Highly recommend

  8. Susan Davis says:

    Chaucer A European Life by Marion TurnerI ve read a good number of Chaucer biographies and this is the most helpful of all of them Turner goes through the known facts of Chaucer s life by looking at a number of places such as the Vintry Ward, where Chaucer grew up, Reims and Calais, where England waged war when Chaucer was in the army, Genoa and Florence, where Chaucer was sent to negotiate for the King What Turner adds to the bare facts is a plethora of detail about those places, their histo Chaucer A European Life by Marion TurnerI ve read a good number of Chaucer biographies and this is the most helpful of all of them Turner goes through the known facts of Chaucer s life by looking at a number of places such as the Vintry Ward, where Chaucer grew up, Reims and Calais, where England waged war when Chaucer was in the army, Genoa and Florence, where Chaucer was sent to negotiate for the King What Turner adds to the bare facts is a plethora of detail about those places, their history, rulers, and economics Similarly in chapters about Chaucer s employment at the customs house, Turner gives the structure of the building, the taxation protocol and the politics surrounding the taxes We learn about the Visconti in Milan, Charles of Navarre, William of Hainault, as well as about the English royal family from King Edward III to Richard II, and the relevant dukes and earls.Each of the major poems is set in context of the tradition, the times in England and the time in Chaucer s life For instance for the Canterbury Tales, Turner looks at the reasons for its setting from outside London in Southwark to not quite Canterbury , the qualities of the inn and of the host, both the real and imagined Harry Baily, as well as the other places mentioned in the Tales Most of the individual tales are described also in terms of their sources and analogs.The amount of information beyond the basic facts of Chaucer s life is astounding, ranging from baptism rituals to furniture to battle plans to acquaintances and friends of Chaucer, John of Gaunt, Harry Baily and a host of others Rather than using Chaucer s poetry to make guesses about his life, as so many biographers do, Turner uses the facts about Chaucer s world to inform us about his life and uses the context and the language of the poems to make incisive observations about their meaning One reading of this book is not enough to do it justice

  9. Dawn says:

    I bought this book because I heard about it on Radio 4 where it was highly praised, and because I enjoy reading biographies and am interested in Chaucer having studied The Canterbury Tales some years ago it sounded just the kind of biography I would enjoy The first Chapter was great and found it quite engaging and interesting The reader virtually smells and hears what 14th Century London was like it was also educational I never realised how cosmopolitan the city was back then, and it was I bought this book because I heard about it on Radio 4 where it was highly praised, and because I enjoy reading biographies and am interested in Chaucer having studied The Canterbury Tales some years ago it sounded just the kind of biography I would enjoy The first Chapter was great and found it quite engaging and interesting The reader virtually smells and hears what 14th Century London was like it was also educational I never realised how cosmopolitan the city was back then, and it was fascinating to read how sophisticated life was forwealthy people I certainly got a vivid idea of the time and space Chaucer inhabited in London.However from Chapter 2 onwards I struggled to keep interest The book veers off Chaucer somewhat and describes intricate details about his contemporaries and seemingly rather drab histories involving other people I lost track of who was who and what they were also too many women called Blanche Blanche was obviously a popular name in the 14th century, but I lost track of which Blanche was which Also the author goes into great detail about 14th century people and events I have absolutely no interest in whatsoever, and the style of writing was factual and not interesting as recreational reading it was hard going for me personally, and didn t enjoy the book after Chapter 1 So I ve abandoned reading the book unfortunately, and have not finished it I bought the Kindle version so can t even sell it on unfortunately, I just lost the plot with it and have not got beyond Chapter 4 and I glossed over quite a lot of chapters 2, 3 and 4 but found it didn t improve for me.However there s no doubt this book would be a marvellous resource for anyone seriously studying Chaucer The author is clearly extremely knowledgeable and done enormous amounts of research, but for the lay person like myself this book is way to scholarly as a biography to read for pleasure

  10. Todd Smith says:

    I want this to be the kindest possible 2 star review The author, Marion Turner, is an English professor, and she clearly is not aiming this book at general audiences The book is best understood and appreciated by English majors This could be the textbook for one of Ms Turner s classes at Oxford.I DNFed at about 2 3 of the way through It just got too English major wonky for me to continue Unless you have a grounding in classical literature I don t many of Turner s references will fly quic I want this to be the kindest possible 2 star review The author, Marion Turner, is an English professor, and she clearly is not aiming this book at general audiences The book is best understood and appreciated by English majors This could be the textbook for one of Ms Turner s classes at Oxford.I DNFed at about 2 3 of the way through It just got too English major wonky for me to continue Unless you have a grounding in classical literature I don t many of Turner s references will fly quickly over your head Chaucer was influenced by contemporaries such as Petrarch, Boethius and Boccaccio, as well as the ancients If you re familiar with those guys, you re good to go.That said, Chaucer lived at a very interesting juncture of English history The 14th century was when Europe was transitioning from a feudal society into a modern economy The Enlightenment had begun Chaucer was a courtier and high ranking official during the reign of Richard II, a tumultuous moment in England The Continent was also in turmoil This was the time of two popes Politics in Italy were messy and violent The Holy Roman Empire was scuffling for credibility And Chaucer was right in the middle of it all He traveled extensively, was exposed to the great art and literature of the time, and was uniquely qualified to become the father of English literature Turner nails this It s a great yarn, and Turner tells it admirably I definitely learned stuff about Chaucer that I didn t know.I cannot fault the writer for the professorial tone of this book She s a professor For the generalist reader this book is a little dense

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