Thursday, 20 May 2010

Top lines from Chaucer No. 2

Ther nas no dore that he nolde heve of harre,
Or breke it, at a renning, with his heed.

(There was no door he couldn't heave off its hinges
Or, running at it, smash it with his head.)

Geoffrey Chaucer (?1340-?1400): The Canterbury Tales, Prologue.

Five or six years ago I was invited to Montpellier to take part in an English literature evening hosted by a French cultural association. To put everything into context they'd made a time-line of Eng. Lit. giants to put on the wall. Eng. Lit. giants included William Beckford (who?), Barbara Cartland and Agatha Christie.

First on the list, however, was Geoffrey CHANCER. I expect he would have been proud to be associated with this spirit of adventurous spelling. He would also have enjoyed our hosts' attempt to cultivate the ambience of a typical English gathering of literary giants. Among other things they served jelly, not made in the usual way with boiling water and left to set in moulds or little dishes: they simply served jelly cubes straight from the pack with cocktail sticks stuck in them.

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