In this fresh and innovative approach, John H. Fisher eloquently explains Chaucer’s importance to Western culture.
English literature begins with Chaucer. The first writer to demonstrate that English was as effective a medium for literature as Latin or French, Chaucer introduced realism, satire, and humor into English writing. In examining Chaucer’s cultural importance, however, Fisher ventures beyond literary excellence, basing his cultural interpretation on inferences about Chaucer’s domestic life, about his possible experience in the inns of chancery and inns of court, and about the possibility that Henry V and the Lancastrian government sought deliberately to promote Chaucer’s poems as models of what could be accomplished in the vernacular.
Fisher’s willingness to boldly infer from the scant evidence available allows him to place Chaucer in the poet’s, and our, culture in a way he has not been placed before. By attributing to Chaucer innovations to which other writers have only alluded, and by reaching conclusions which others have been hesitant to approach, Fisher presents an interpretation at once controversial, engaging, and informative.