(Review) Chaucer's Tale: 1386 and The Road To Canterbury by Paul Strohm

Publisher: Viking/Penguin Group, November 13, 2014.
Genre: Non-fiction, biography, Geoffrey Chaucer, medieval England.
Format: hardcover.
Pages: 304, with 12 illustrations.
Rating: 4 stars for very good.
Source: Free copy from Viking in exchange for a review.

Chaucer's Tale is available November 13.
Link @ Amazon. 

Resource links:
Canterbury Tales
The Canterbury Tales
The Literature Network

Paul Strohm has written a concise biography of Geoffrey Chaucer.
Strohm states the aim of the book.
My aim is to write an evidence-based account that respects the past as past, but that simultaneously seeks out linkages between that past and our present. At various points in the pages to follow I will attribute motives to Chaucer that, with modest adjustment, are close cousins to our own: motives of love (and accommodation to its absence), ambition (and its curious lack), loyalty (and its limits), financial security (and an apparent indifference to wealth), a wish for fame (and a disdain for its requirements). Page 13-14.
The subjects covered are:

  • Geoffrey Chaucer's early life, marriage, and family.
  • His business and political career.
  • Life in London and living above Aldgate.
  • Literary career.
My Thoughts:
Geoffrey Chaucer's, The Canterbury Tales, was introduced to me in college. My teacher was Mrs. Caesar. The coarse was British Literature. I loved both the teacher and class.
I had heard about The Canterbury Tales, but had not read the tales until the class. I fell in love with the wit and rich word usage.
My favorite tales are The Nun's Priest's Tale and The Wife of Bath's Tale.
I was anxious to read a biography of Geoffrey Chaucer. I wanted to know about his life and personality.
While reading Chaucer's Tale, I felt better acquainted with him, but I did not believe Chaucer's Tale had fleshed-out the man himself. Please understand, I was not looking for a romantic, nor witty book on Chaucer. The book felt a bit conservative. But...after reading Chaucer's Tale, I came to understand Geoffrey Chaucer was a conservative man. He was not ambitious. He was not interested in being in the forefront of social circles. I had prejudged the book by expecting something that would not have been an accurate portrayal. I have come to the decision that Paul Strohm's book fully represents the person and life of Geoffrey Chaucer.
An excellent point in the book: Paul Strohm said,
Racy narratives within Chaucer's own literary oeuvre-such as the "Miller's Tale" and the "Reeve's Tale" within his Canterbury Tales-have literary sources in the Old French comic tales called fabliaux and elsewhere, and I do not mean to suggest that he drew them from surrounding life. If anything, Chaucer-working within literary rather than judicial traditions-tones his stories down a bit, tempering and redirecting their energies away from raw incident and toward more modulated points about mutual betrayal (the "Shipman's Tale") and displaced requital and revenge (the "Reeve's Tale). But no none reading of Margaret's travails or Elizabeth's enterprising greed could fail to notice that Chaucer had the advantage of a London public that knew how to recognize and appreciate a well-told yarn. Chaucer's assumptions about tales and tale telling were formed within a society in which narrative exchange and the recital of racy incidents was part of the fodder of daily life. Page 78-79.