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Chaucer at Large

The Poet in the Modern Imagination

2000
Author:

Steve Ellis

Chaucer at Large

A spirited look at the uses and abuses of Chaucer’s work in modern culture.


In this learned, lively, and wide-ranging book, Steve Ellis conducts us on a tour of the appearances that the greatest writer of Middle English has made throughout English-speaking culture in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Surveying the uses to which Chaucer has been put in modern times, Ellis presents a compelling picture that goes beyond the figure and work of this eminent writer to show us the reach of his imaginative power.

“An attractively lucid book, highly intelligent, perceptive, wide-ranging, but also modestly written. The story Ellis has to tell is often quite extraordinary, and it has not been told before.”
-Derek Pearsall, Gurney Professor of English, Emeritus, Harvard University

Lively and instructive. Ellis’s judgment is admirably sure, but then he has the perfect credentials: a medievalist who is a fine modern poet and a brilliant translator of Dante.

Times Literary Supplement

Medieval Studies

A spirited look at the uses and abuses of Chaucer’s work in modern culture.

In this learned, lively, and wide-ranging book, Steve Ellis conducts us on a tour of the appearances that the greatest writer of Middle English has made throughout English-speaking culture in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Surveying the uses to which Chaucer has been put in modern times, Ellis presents a compelling picture that goes beyond the figure and work of this eminent writer to show us the reach of his imaginative power.

In novelists’ and poets’ responses to Chaucer, children’s versions of his work, modern translations, adaptations for stage, television, radio, and film, and the marketing of Chaucer’s "heritage," Ellis traces Chaucer’s presence among us-from the permutations of his writings in the work of such authors as William Morris, W. B. Yeats, Rudyard Kipling, James Joyce, Henry James, and D. H. Lawrence to its presentation in the Canterbury Tales Experience museum in Canterbury, England. Animated, witty, as critically acute as it is far-reaching, this work, appearing in the sixth centenary of Chaucer’s death, tells us much about a writer at the heart of our cultural tradition and, perhaps, more about that tradition itself.

Medieval Cultures Series, volume 24

Translation Inquiries: University of Minnesota Press

Chaucer at Large

Steve Ellis is professor of English literature at the University of Birmingham, England.

Chaucer at Large

Lively and instructive. Ellis’s judgment is admirably sure, but then he has the perfect credentials: a medievalist who is a fine modern poet and a brilliant translator of Dante.

Times Literary Supplement

Chaucer at Large fills a gap in Chaucerian scholarship, as it is the first general overview of Chaucer’s reputation from the 1870s to the present day. It is particularly useful for teachers of Chaucer who are not specialists. Steve Ellis’s style is clear, the book is free of jargon, and there is no axe to grind.

Arthuriana

Chaucer at Large will surely encourage others to explore this neglected but fascinating field.

Speculum

The book is heartily recommended not only for its exquisite entertainment value, but also for its insights in tracing the cultural semiotics of modern representations of Chaucer.

English Studies

Steve Ellis patiently and tolerantly fishes through the range of evidence of Chaucer’s “presence” in British literary and popular culture of the twentieth century and comes up with an interesting haul.

Journal of English and Germanic Philology

...engaging and informative... Altogether an entertaining, well-written book, with something for everybody.

Parergon

“An attractively lucid book, highly intelligent, perceptive, wide-ranging, but also modestly written. The story Ellis has to tell is often quite extraordinary, and it has not been told before.” -Derek Pearsall, Gurney Professor of English, Emeritus, Harvard University

At once serious and consistently engaging, modestly presented yet eventful, and, despite the fact that it borders on the usually electric field of cultural studies, refreshingly unideological.

Kritikon Litterarum

Chaucer at Large

CONTENTS

Acknowledgments

Introduction

1. Kelmscott Chaucer
2. Popular Chaucer
3. Spoken Chaucer
4. Children's Chaucer
5. English Chaucer
6. Writers' Chaucer
7. Translated Chaucer
8. Performance Chaucer
9. Novel Chaucer
10. Concluding Chaucer

Notes
Index