The Canterbury Tales is a collection of 24 stories that runs to over 17,000 lines written in Middle English by Geoffrey Chaucer. The tales are presented as part of a story-telling contest by a group of pilgrims as they travel to the shrine of Thomas Becket in Canterbury. The prize for the winner of the contest is a free meal at the Tabard Inn at Southwark on their return journey. Chaucer probably wrote The Canterbury Tales in the early 1370s.
Chaucer’s stories are loosely based on events from real life, but he uses them as springboards for his own imagination and wit, and they often contain many elements that we would consider strange today.
The narrator gives his opinion on each storyteller’s performance, which allows us to see how people viewed stories and their role in society at that time. Some of these views are very similar to our own ideas about good stories (such as those told by Sir Topaz), while others seem very strange to us today (such as when Sir Thopas goes hunting).
The tales are told by pilgrims in a variety of verse and prose forms. Many of the tales are humorous or bawdy, but there are also more serious pieces, including a number of religious tales.
Moreover, the Canterbury Tales was written during a time when there were many political and religious changes in England. The country was divided between those who supported King Edward III and those who supported his rival, Richard II. There were also conflicts between Catholics and Protestants over religious beliefs and practices.
In fact, The Canterbury Tales was enormously popular in the centuries after Chaucer’s death and has been a source of inspiration for many writers.The first printed edition of The Canterbury Tales was published in 1476.