Cover image for An introduction to the Canterbury tales : reading, fiction, context
An introduction to the Canterbury tales : reading, fiction, context
Phillips, Helen.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : St. Martin's Press, 2000.
Physical Description:
vi, 254 pages ; 22 cm

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PR1874 .P48 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



This introduction to the Canterbury Tales is accessible to first-time readers of Chaucer and is also a significant critical study in its own right. It gives full separate readings of each tale, together with clear expositions of the historical and literary backgrounds. Using modern theoretical perspectives, the book focuses particularly on gender, political and narratological approaches. The humour in the Tales and Chaucer's gifts for story-telling and dialogue are rooted in an extraordinary perceptiveness about timeless subjects such as human vanity, class-consciousness, snobbery, rivalry, robust honesty and self-sacrificing love. This book provides both a clear guide to all aspects of the Canterbury Tales and insight into why it continues to be of importance to modern readers.

Author Notes

Helen Phillips is Professor of English Studies at the University of Glamorgan.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Although Phillips (Univ. of Glamorgan) treats the Canterbury Tales in the standard sequence, this is not merely a standard "introduction." Phillips employs the many contemporary, as well as traditional, critical approaches in an intramural mix that both challenges received interpretations and suggests (sometimes in detail) fresh, perceptive readings. Formal, gender, historical, historicist, psychological, religious, stylistic, and deconstructionist readings mix as Phillips develops a view of Chaucer capable of revealing several social levels and worlds simultaneously. Moreover, Phillips suggests that conflicting moralities within the text may reflect not Chaucer's social conservatism or easygoing tolerance but insteadto English economic and social tensions outside a tale. Further, divided responses by characters invites multiple reader responses. Phillips's treatments should contribute to more liberated approaches to reading Chaucer. Helpful notes; especially useful bibliography; index of names, topics, and works. Strongly recommended for literary and history collections of late medieval materials. Upper-division undergraduate and above. C. B. Darrell; Kentucky Wesleyan College

Table of Contents

Prefacep. vi
1 Chaucer and the Canterbury Talesp. 1
2 The General Prologuep. 19
3 The Knight's Talep. 46
4 The Miller's Talep. 54
5 The Reeve's Talep. 64
6 The Cook's Talep. 70
7 The Man of Law's Talep. 75
8 The Wife of Bath's Prologue and Talep. 89
9 The Friar's and the Summoner's Talesp. 103
10 The Clerk's Talep. 114
11 The Merchant's Talep. 123
12 The Squire's and the Franklin's Talesp. 133
13 The Physician's Talep. 145
14 The Pardoner's Talep. 149
15 The Shipman's Talep. 157
16 The Prioress's Talep. 163
17 Sir Thopas and Melibeep. 171
18 The Monk's Talep. 180
19 The Nun's Priest's Talep. 186
20 The Second Nun's Talep. 195
21 The Canon's Yeoman's Talep. 202
22 The Manciple's Talep. 212
23 The Parsons' Talep. 219
Notesp. 227
Bibliographyp. 236
Indexp. 243