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Oxford Guides to Chaucer: The Canterbury Tales [Paperback]

Helen Cooper

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Book Description

April 30 1999 Oxford Guides to Chaucer
The three Oxford Guides to Chaucer are written by scholars of international repute, with the purpose of summarizing what is known about his works and offering interpretations based on recent advances in both historical knowledge and theoretical understanding. They will provide readers at every level with new interpretations and ideas, with essential and up-to-date information on such matters as dating and sources and with analyses of thematic issues, structure, style rhetoric and generic relations brought right up-to-date for this second paperback edition. Helen Cooper's volume on The Canterbury Tales tackles these matters both for the whole work and for each individual Tale. It also includes a survey of literary responses to the Tales over the two centuries following Chaucer's death. The book is perhaps the most comprehensive single-volume guide to the Tales yet produced, bringing together a wide range of disparate material and providing a readable commentry on all aspects of the work. It combines the comprehensive coverage of a reference book with the coherence of a critical account and since its first publication in 1989, has established itself as a standard work on the Tales.

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`Cooper's guide is a more powerful book than any previous aid or introduction to Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. It presents the lively and generous mind of a serious scholar and a sensitive reader.' Notes and Queries

`a substantial work by a single author, with something of the proportions and production quality of a reference volume ... This is a major book with many virtues ... a book with much to offer its reader' J D Burnley, Review of English Studies

`The first volume of a project three ... is marked by wit, learning, intelligence, and that rarest of critical virtues, good judgement. She has produced a genuine guide whose abundant information and good sense make it a sure foundation for serious work on The Canterbury Tales. Although especially useful for those, on any level, studying Chaucer for the first time, experienced Chaucerians will find it a helpful companion to The Riverside Chaucer. For teaching or research this is now the first book on The Canterbury Tales to consult after reading the text itself.' C. David Benson, Studies in the Age of Chaucer (US journal)

`The sharpness, conciseness, and up-to-date information very good for students who need fairly quick insights and stimulus.' Sarah Carpenter, Lecturer, Department of English, University of Edinburgh

'Teachers preparing for lectures or tutorials and students preparing for exams will turn to Helen Cooper's guide because it critically assimilates so much information in an economical and readable style. Cooper clearly aims to offer sound criticism, and she does. Cooper's guide is a more powerful book than any previous aid or introduction to Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. It presents the lively and generous mind of a serious scholar and a sensitive reader.' Charlotte Morse, Virginia Commonwealth University, Notes and Queries, June 1991

'a sure-footed guide through very difficult scholarly terrain ... Dr Cooper's volume sets a dauntingly high standard for the execution of the aims of the series. Indeed, it is so good that I often feel that it should be kept out of the hands of my students since it makes otiose much of what I might say to them and says a great deal that it had never occurred to me to say. It is a well written and reliable guide through a mass of material that largely transcends the limitations of its form to offer critical analysis of lasting value.' A.S.G. Edwards, University of Victoria, Archiv fur das Stadium der neueren Sprachen und Literaturen, 229. Band 144. Hargang 1. Halbjahresband 1992

About the Author

Helen Cooper is at University College, Oxford.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
Although the General Prologue was probably written fairly early in the course of Chaucer's work on the Tales, it was not necessarily the first item to be composed, nor need it all have written at one time. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic Nov. 5 2009
By sonmei46 - Published on Amazon.com
This and Elaine Tuttle Hansen's _Chaucer and the Fictions of Gender_ are, I think, the two single best books of Chaucerian criticism out there. This book provides everything you need to know about the CT: the sources and influences of the Canterbury Tales, the themes and issues for each teller and his/her tale, and the dominant interpretations out there. Plus there's the Cooper-type insight into the tales you just come to expect from her work. This one's a classic.
4.0 out of 5 stars Helpful guide to explaining Chaucer's life and the context of each Tale Nov. 10 2013
By maple adair - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Helpful explanation of the background of Chaucer's life, Explains the historic setting and norms of the times as the Tales are presented. maple adair
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb background for serious Chaucer study Dec 25 2012
By David Cope - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is an essential guide for those wanting more in-depth understanding of the complexities and beauties of Chaucer's work. It should be paired with the Oxford guide to his masterpiece, Troilus and Criseyde. One would hope for a third volume, covering Boece and the other works.

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