September 29, 2015

On Tuesdays We Wear Chaucer

I know this is a strange book group. Disjointed. Disorganized. Not everyone started the book at the same time. People are reading different versions of the book. More people are reading than are talking. But my feeling is that in a slippery way—we're all in this together. And I'm enjoying the concept of doing something with people virtually. Because I am a loner—and I work alone.

But since we're all over the book, as it were, I'm trying to offer a little extra to the experience.

The Invitation...
Some background...
On being banned...

Ah ha. The word my brain was looking for was "supplemental" (for "a little extra"). Sometimes these things take me a moment.

For today, I thought I'd offer a bit of insight into what life was like during Chaucer's time. Although some sites put a question mark after the number, supposedly Chaucer was born in 1343.

I typed in 1343 London—and hey, that turns out to be an address.

Trying again, I learned that:

• An early form of Cricket, called creag, was being played.

• Edward the first agreed to the "Articles of the Charter."

• The Pope urged Edward the first to make a temporary truce with Scotland.

And I feel like I'm dozing in the back row of a history class. I want the meat. I want to know what life was like.

Oh, wait. Here's something. Medicine included "examining urine." Check this out—I'm seriouly happy we avoided the medical experience called "medieval surgery." (Though I don't think that's what they called it. That's simply the heading I found.)

The Middle Ages, according to one article I found, produced "some of the most important, original, and enduring works in this history of Western culture." Dante's Divine Comedy was begun in 1308 and completed in 1320. (I have to say, dates like this make me so fucking happy. I'm always feeling like I can't finish anything in a decent amount of time. Not to compare myself in any other way to Dante, but I am thrilled when I read that other authors spend years on their works!)

Artwork in calendars shows the types of activity people (I believe the peasants) engaged in: shaking acorns from trees, pruning vines, harvesting wheat. The wealthy feasted and indulged in leisure activities—such as working with hawks. Couples in the upperclass dressed elegantly and enjoyed strolling through meadows.

I tried and failed to figure out what the ratio was between peasants and the wealthy. (Do you see where I'm going here?) I mean, in Chaucer's time did we already have a 1% owning more than the rest  of the 99%? What will our time be referred to in 800 years?

Anyway, I'm hoping you're enjoying the experience. Feel free to share your insights. Next week, I plan to discuss some of Chaucer's influences on modern works. And possibly some Medieval Slang!


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