Talk:Geoffrey Chaucer

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 Definition (1345-1400) English poet, author of The Canterbury Tales. [d] [e]

Update: Once more, I'm working over the WP's Chaucer entry here -- I've cleaned up most of the factual errors and misstatements, and am currently revising each section for flow, consistency, and relevance of information. I am leaving most of the red links, in cases where it seems to me the subjects are important enough that CZ will eventually have entries on them. Russell Potter


I think it would be better to use a portrait of Chaucer from one of the manuscript sources, such this or this. David Stapleton 22:13, 14 April 2007 (CDT)

Hi David, and thanks for the comment. Certainly, those two are more likely to be historically accurate images. Unfortunately, the Hoccleve portrait of Chaucer is from the British Library's Harley 4866, and the Ellesmere Chaucer ms. is in the Huntington Library in California. Despite their age, any modern reproduction of these images falls under the proprietary (not copyright; this is clearly extinguished) control of these two institutions; while wikimedia commons plays fast and loose with such things, I don't think CZ should -- at least not yet! Whereas with the Speght, since it was published in the early 1600's in multiple copies, the proprietary source is far more difficult to establish, and I believe any low-res image such as this can rightly be regarded as public domain, unless it could be proved to come from someone's scan of a specific copy. Russell Potter 22:26, 14 April 2007 (CDT)
I've wondered what Citizendium's approach to such things will be. Since my primary interest here is illuminated manuscripts, this touches any work I would do quite closely, unless I want to work on completely unillustrated articles. Wikimedia Commons's (and Wikipedia's) approach is based on Bridgeman Art Library v. Corel Corp. which held that "slavish" copies of works of two dimensional art in the public domain are also in the public domain. While these institutions obviously have proprietary control over the manuscripts, and can control when and if images of them are made, it would seem to me that they would loose such control over the images once they allow them to be made and published. Perhaps this conversation should be moved to the image or the legal issues discussion forum. David Stapleton 22:17, 15 April 2007 (CDT)
Well, I think we will have to see what the eventual CZ policy will be. There is an argument to be made that some images -- perhaps the Hoccleve image of Chaucer among them -- have been so frequently reproduced that a lower-resolution copy is of sufficinently indeterminate pedigree that it may freely be used. My personal hope is that such a view gains strength! but I don't want to open up CZ to any legal issues when it is just starting. Later, when we become a bigger fish in the pond, and develop a legally-vetteed policy, things could change! I hope they will. In the meantime, there is some wiggle room; as I've done with the The Wife of Bath's Prologue and Tale, one can use printed 19th-century facsimilies of manuscript images, or medieval mss. from wholly public archives such as the Library of Congress, fairly freely. The issue bears watching, and I'm very glad that you are a part of the CZ project! Russell Potter 22:48, 15 April 2007 (CDT)


How closely do you want the Wikipedia article fact-checked and documented? I have a couple of good Chaucer books and editions on hand, and could add citations where factual claims are made, if that would help. How heavily should this be annotated--like a freshman paper, where nearly every specific fact not likely to be in a freshman's head needs citation, or like an authoritative encyclopedia such as EB, where it is assumed that the author can be trusted to get the facts right?

--Robert Rubin 11:17, 1 May 2007 (CDT)

My sense is that what we want here on CZ will be different from WP. On WP, since "original research" is officially banned, and nearly any simple claim has to be documented from "reliable published sources", you often end up with an article with dozens of needless footnotes. Here, since we are (in theory) expert-edited, we don't need that kind of documentation unless the claim in the article is in some sense 'controversial' or not widely known (widely known among Chaucerians, and literary historians generally, as opposed to widely known among freshmen!).
So my suggested standard here would be, that there's no need to document anything about Chaucer that a) is in the published edition of the Chaucer Life Records; b) could be verified by consulating any standard modern edition of Chaucer, such as Fisher's or the Riverside Chaucer. I will add these books in the Bibliography and that should, I think, suffice. In fact, I think we may well want to cull some of these notes which are *not* needed. Russell Potter 12:05, 1 May 2007 (CDT)

historical impact

I dunno Richard, have a look here: It looks like he did have some impact in England! --Robert W King 01:29, 8 October 2007 (CDT)

To quote:

"In 1357, he was a page to Elizabeth, Countess of Ulster, wife of King Edward III's third son. Chaucer was captured by the French during the Brittany expedition of 1359, but was ransomed by the king. Edward III later sent him on diplomatic missions to France, Genoa and Florence. His travels exposed him to the work of authors such as Dante, Boccaccio and Froissart."

"In 1374, Chaucer was appointed comptroller of the lucrative London customs. In 1386, he was elected member of Parliament for Kent, and he also served as a Justice of the Peace. In 1389 he was made clerk of the king's works, overseeing royal building projects. He held a number of other royal posts, serving both Edward III and his successor Richard II."

Confusions; Suggestions for Restructuring

This article is pretty great! The section on Chaucer's history in print and reception contains a lot of stuff I've never heard before. Of course, the only problem with it is that the discussion of Chaucer's reception stops with John Foxe.

Much as I love the section on the MS history of Chaucer, I think it could be cleaned up and potentially shipped off to a subpage. I'm not convinced that the reader coming to a discussion of Chaucer life and works will necessarily want to read through his history in print (though it might be helpful to point the lay reader in the direction of good modern editions of Chaucer). We could probably also move the 'Works' section to a subpage.

More specifically, my reading of the history of Chaucer in print broke down around the section on Thomas Speight. It would be helpful if we could break that big long section up with headlines and keep the discussion from jumping around. (i.e., the part in parentheses "Thomas Speight is careful to highlight..." should be incorporated into the section on Thomas Speight)

I'm not entirely happy with his bio, either, but I don't have any specific suggestions. (I'm mainly unsatisfied with it because it leaves out the part in 'The House of Fame' where the eagle talks about Chaucer being fat-- we really have to work that in)

As I've said on a couple of other talk pages, I am going to do as I see fit with this section of the article unless I hear back in a week or two. I will a) move the majority of the MS/print history section to a subpage, b) clean that subpage up, c) move the works section to a subpage, and d) make a new section on 'Interpretation', touching briefly on the early interpretation of Chaucer as seen in his print/MS history. Thanks, Brian P. Long 13:17, 17 February 2008 (CST)