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Written over 600 years ago, Canterbury Tales is one of the greatest poetic works in English by the greatest English poet prior to Shakespeare. Living in a time of linguistic transition known as Middle English, Chaucer was “the first finder of our language,” and instrumental in forging a new vernacular out of its Anglo-Saxon and French roots. From his writings he emerges as a poet of love, both earthly and divine, whose stories range from lustful cuckoldry to spiritual union with God. He writes about man's relation both to his fellows and to his Maker, while simultaneously providing entertaining views of the frailties and follies—as well as the nobility—of mankind.
In Canterbury Tales a group of twenty-nine pilgrims gather at an inn in springtime to start a journey to the shrine of St. Thomas Becket in Canterbury and, in order to pass the time, agree to engage in a storytelling contest as they travel there and back. Chaucer apparently planned 120 tales for his final masterpiece but completed only twenty-four. In the adaptation MWHS performed, eight pilgrims appeared telling seven tales. Karl Schurman