The Canterbury Tales Essay

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When Geoffrey Chaucer undertook to adapt the Teseida for his "Knight's Tale," he performed an impressive feat of truncation, shortening Boccaccio's nearly 10,000 lines to 2250 and compressing twelve books into four. Chaucer's omissions, and the way he has the Knight call attention to them, affect the meaning as well as the length of his revision of the Teseida. The change most immediately noticeable to a reader of both texts is Chaucer's wholesale jettisoning of Boccaccio's self-consciously literary epic trappings— invocations, glosses, catalogues of warriors—so that the story, as told by the Knight, sounds much less like a virtuoso performance, much more like the effort of an amateur—a soldier, not a poet— who, far from taking pride like Boccaccio in his poetic achievement, wishes primarily to finish his task as quickly as possible. (The one exception to the Knight's attitude of self-abnegation, his description of the tournament lists...

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This section contains 4,519 words
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Poetry for Students
The Canterbury Tales from Poetry for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.