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Thoroughly annotated with notes printed at the foot of each page, this edition of 'The General Prologue' and 'The Canon's Yeoman's Prologue and Tale' is a helpful introduction for the beginning student of Chaucer and contains much valuable information for more advanced scholars. The editor's introduction clarifies the many historical points which must be grasped in order to read Chaucer appreciatively and shows how 'The General Prologue' is an important guide to the reading of the 'Tales' as a whole. The editor describes Chaucer's method of creating a realistic effect through a pilgrimage that manages to bring together disparate characters who would be unlikely to meet in another context and shows how Chaucer uses clothing, language and social class as part of his characterisation of the pilgrims.Among the pilgrims who set out from Southwark and who are described in 'The General Prologue', the Canon and his Yeoman are the only characters not included. Their sudden and dramatic arrival creates expectations of the unusual and these are not disappointed in the tale of alchemy which follows. In type, the 'Tale' resembles those of the Merchant, Friar and Pardoner: stories about the duping of men who are the victims of their own lack off insight. The editor elucidates this argument and offers many new insights into the tale's polemical purpose, theme, structure and style. The commentary to the 'Tale' gives the reader the necessary background in explaining the many allusions to practices of medieval alchemy.
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