Cover image for Chaucer A to Z : the essential reference to his life and works
Chaucer A to Z : the essential reference to his life and works
Rossignol, Rosalyn.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Facts On File, [1999]

Physical Description:
xiii, 432 pages : illustrations, map ; 29 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
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PR1903 .R67 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area-Reference

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An encyclopedic guide to the fourteenth-century poet's life and works examines Chaucer's language, historical events, and literary influences in his work.

Reviews 4

Booklist Review

Geoffrey Chaucer is popularly known as the Father of English Poetry. If the list of other literary lights who borrowed from or imitated him is any indication, he certainly ranks among the greats. Any study of English literature seems bankrupt without Chaucer and his Canterbury Tales, a work that to this day remains influential. The new Chaucer student will be justified in their surprise that the poet, a bastion of the literary canon, was a civil servant who pushed the envelope of what was defined as literature in his own time. This informational gem, and many more, are to be found in the pages of this wonderful guide to the life, times, works, and influences of Chaucer. The author, a professor of English at Loras College, has put together a volume that culls more than two centuries of Chaucer scholarship. At the same time, she has admirably stayed with her stated goal of making the work accessible. The volume is arranged alphabetically, and each entry is as detailed as it needs to be to give the reader a general understanding of the topic. The topics themselves are as varied as one would expect from a reading of Chaucer. The first entry (Abbreviato) describes a narrative device Chaucer used in The Legend of Good Women; the final entry (Zeuxis) is an Athenian painter who earns passing remarks in The Physician's Tale and Troilus and Criseyde. In between is a wealth of entries of varied length, with those on Chaucer and his works earning the greatest coverage. For example, where the author looks at the various components of The Canterbury Tales, she not only provides an excellent synopsis of the tale but an intelligent and concise analysis as well. Copious cross-referencing takes the reader to specific entries on characters, places, events, and even scholars whose work will lead to a better understanding of the tales. The volume is well indexed, with the page numbers for the primary discussions of each topic highlighted. Also included are five very useful appendixes: "Characters or Historical Figures Mentioned or Quoted in Chaucer," "Places Mentioned in Chaucer," "Chronology of Chaucer's Life," "Works," and a look at "The Canterbury Highway." As a companion to Chaucer's work, this is a highly useful and long-overdue work. Other reference sources for Chaucer, such as A Chaucer Dictionary (G. K. Hall, 1974), though of a similar quality, do not offer as comprehensive a coverage as this volume does. Academic and public libraries would serve their patrons well by having this resource in the reference collection.

Library Journal Review

This latest title in Facts on File's "Literary A to Z" series provides a solidly researched summary of current information on Chaucer, his life, his works, and the era in which he lived. Entries include all of Chaucer's characters or people mentioned in his writing; historical background on people, places, and events; synopses of all his works; and summaries of the major critical approaches to his writing. Appendixes provide a list of all Chaucer's known works, a chronology of his life, and a short bibliography listing basic works for further reading. There is no current alternative providing such convenient access to this much material. Rossignol (English, Univ. of Iowa) packs a generous amount of information into the text; however, additional cross references and some spell checking would help users find information. For example, there are no entries for or cross references to "Middle English" or the "Seven Deadly Sins"; information on these subjects can be found under "Chaucer's Language" and "Parson's Tale, The." In the proof, the entry for bubonic plague is listed as "Bumbic Plague." Otherwise, the text is written clearly and will be useful to readers unfamiliar with Chaucer's work. Recommended for public and academic libraries.ÄShana C. Fair, Ohio Univ., Zanesville (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal Review

YA-This remarkable series continues with two authors prominent in the high school curriculum. Students will be comfortable with the easy-to-use format and appreciate the readable articles. Information is provided on the writers' lives and the periods in which they lived. Explanations of allusions, details from the works, and the characters are extensive. Literary information such as form or language is clarified. This is especially strong in Chaucer, which includes the pronunciation of the Middle English. Plot summaries are detailed. Chaucer's lesser-known works and Hemingway's journalistic writing and poetry are included. The bibliography is more extensive in Hemingway, and Web sites are given only in Chaucer. All libraries will benefit from these extensive resources.-Claudia Moore, W. T. Woodson High School, Fairfax, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Intending to serve readers of Chaucer who need background information, Rossignol provides an alphabetical listing of entries relating to the works themselves and to Chaucer's religious, historical, and literary context. Entries include mythical, biblical, and historical characters and places, as well as personal details of Chaucer's life. Where possible, Rossignol relates entries of a general nature, such as "Christianity," to Chaucer's work or life. Length of items ranges from the eight pages given the "General Prologue" to just a few lines. See references point to alternate spellings and related concepts. Appendixes include a chronology of Chaucer's life, lists of works, place-names, and characters, and a bibliography. Surprisingly, the author (Loras College) appears not to have published previously on Chaucer. This is the first encyclopedia to concentrate on Chaucer; previous works are much more limited in scope. The intentional lack of citations limits its usefulness to scholars. General and undergraduate readers. K. Sasser; Bowdoin College



Geoffrey Chaucer has delighted readers through the ages with stories replete with humanity, grace, and strength. His tales bring to life the England of his own day, with all its color and vibrancy. Chaucer A to Z is the place to turn for a complete understanding of the work and life of this literary pioneer. Shaped by her own experiences teaching Chaucer, author Rosalyn Rossignol's indispensable guide will lead every student and veteran scholar to a highly rewarding "pilgrimage" through The Canterbury Tales and Chaucer's other great works. More than 850 extensively cross-referenced entries include: Detailed synopses of all his major and most minor works An overview of the critical reception to each work Descriptions of all characters, both real and imagined Details of Chaucer's use of Middle English Information about historical figures of the time, such as John of Gaunt Details of important events, such as the Black Death Discussions of significant people in his life, including family and friends Biblical and mythological references in Chaucer's work. Excerpted from Chaucer A to Z: The Essential Reference to His Life and Works by Rosalyn Rossignol All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.