Geoffrey Chaucer: The Electronic Canterbury Tales

Daniel T. Kline | U of Alaska Anchorage | Dept of English
Chaucer Pedagogy Page | Chaucer Metapage

Web Resources by Tale 

Electronic Canterbury Tales Home Page

Fragment I / Group A
The General Prologue
The Knight's Tale
The Miller's Prologue & Tale
The Reeve's Prologue & Tale
The Cook's Prologue & Tale

Fragment II / Group B1
The Man of Law's Introduction, Prologue, Tale, & Epilogue

Fragment III / Group D
The Wife of Bath's Prologue & Tale
The Friar's Prologue & Tale
The Summoner's Prologue & Tale

Fragment IV / Group E
The Clerk's Prologue & Tale
The Merchant's Prologue, Tale, & Epilogue
Fragment V / Group F
The Squire's Introduction & Tale
The Franklin's Prologue & Tale

Fragment VI / Group C
The Physician's Tale
The Pardoner's Introduction, Prologue, & Tale

Fragment VII / Group B2
The Shipman's Tale
The Prioress's Prologue & Tale
The Prologue & Tale of Sir Thopas
The Tale of Melibee
The Monk's Prologue & Tale
The Nun's Priest's Prologue,
Tale, & Epilogue

Fragment VIII / Group G
The Second Nun's Prologue & Tale
The Canon's Yeoman's Prologue & Tale

Fragment IX / Group H 
The Manciple's Prologue & Tale

Fragment X / Group I
The Parson's Prologue & Tale
The Retraction

The Electronic Canterbury Tales:
Troilus and Criseyde

Additional Pages in The Electronic Canterbury Tales

Chaucer the Narrator - Pilgrim and Author

Chaucer's "Orphan" Pilgrims

The Frame Tale, Later Continuations,& Apocrypha

Troilus and Criseyde

Electronic Chaucer Texts: What's Available Online?

Chaucer in / and Popular Culture

Headings, Organization, & Criteria for Inclusion

ECT Revision History:
What's New?

The Chaucer Pedagogy Documentation Primer

The Chaucer Pedagogy Page

Need Teaching Ideas & Resources?
The Chaucer Pedagogy Page

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Complete Online Versions of the Canterbury Tales

The Complete Tales in Middle English at UVa (1510 kb)

Search the UVa Middle English Text Archive

Sinan Kökbugur's hypertext, helpfully glossed Middle English edition at the Librarius Homepage

The Electronic Library Foundation's edition of the Canterbury Tales is available in a variety of formats

The Litrix Reading Room Translation of the Canterbury Tales 

Top 15
Medieval & Chaucer-Related Sites

The Aberdeen On-line Bestiary

Argos: Limited Area Search of the Ancient & Medieval Internet

The Camelot Project

Exploring Ancient World Cultures

Geoffrey Chaucer:  Annotated Guide to Online Resources

Gothic Dreams

The Harvard Chaucer Page

Internet Medieval Sourcebook

The Labyrinth

The Luminarium

The Online Medieval and Classical Library

Project Seafarer /

TEAMS Middle English Text Series

Univ. of Michigan Humanities Text Initiative

Voice of the Shuttle

The General Prologue

Edwin Duncan (Towson U) has developed a sophisticated Electronic Edition of the General Prologue to Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. Mouse-overs supply definitions of difficult terms.

1.  In Middle English

The General Prologue at the University of Virginia's Electronic Text Center (from Robinson 1957).

Read the General Prologue in the context of Fragment I - Group A.

Read the General Prologue according to the Hengwrt ms (Hg), one of the two most important early manuscripts, at the University of Toronto's Representative Poetry On-line site. The Ellesmere ms (El) is the other important early edition.

The General Prologue at the University of Michigan's Corpus of Middle English Verse and Prose (from Robinson 1957).

The General Prologue in Sinan Kökbugur's hypertext edition at the Librarius homepage.  Helpful glosses of Middle English terms and phrases (frames; from unknown base text).

  • Although The Riverside Chaucer is the current standard academic text, Robinson's 1957 edition is still serviceable for critical study.

2.  In Modern English Translation

The General Prologue in facing page translation (Paul Halsall, IMSB).

A Reader-Friendly Edition of the General Prologue by Michael Murphy (CUNY-Brooklyn), each tale featuring a handsome introduction. Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader.

The Electronic Library Foundation's edition of the Canterbury Tales, accessible by individual tale & available in a variety of formats:  Middle English, Modern English, Facing Page, & Interpolated - Glossed (frames; from unknown base text).

  • Although unsuitable for formal research or college work, the ELF is the best online version for younger readers and those unfamiliar with Middle English.

From John Dahle's MA thesis (on the possibilities for a hypertext Canterbury Tales), An Annotated Hypertext Version of the General Prologue and An Example of Hypertext Versioning and the General Prologue (Iowa State U.)

3.  Historical & Cultural Backgrounds

The Canterbury Pilgrims are on their way to Canterbury Cathedral, where the "holy blissful martyr" Thomas Becket was murdered.  Read the accounts of his life and death and about his controversy with Henry II at the excellent Thomas Becket page (Scott McLetchie, Loyola - New Orleans), especially the primary texts recounting Becket and the murder (from McLetchie's page):

The Wife of Bath made three pilgrimages to Jerusalem, quite an achievement for the time. The University of Southern Colorado, Department of History has put together a very fine Traveling to Jerusalem website, detailing pilgrim accounts from the 3rd century to the present day.  See, for example, the accounts by 

Jessica A. Browner's article, though a little after Chaucer's period, catches some of the flavor of Southwerk, the Tabard, and the pilgrimage party in  "Wrong Side of the River: London's Disreputable South Bank in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Century Essays in History 36 (1994): 34-72.

See also McLetchie's excellent Pictorial Tour of Canterbury Cathedral

The "Calamitous" Fourteenth Century (Paul Hallsall, IMSB), a web page of primary sources on this pivotal century, provides important background to Chaucer's era, including the Black Death, the Great Schism, the Hundred Years War, and the "Peasant's Revolt" of 1381.

The Online Guide to Canterbury History (Laurel Pearson) includes a nice narrative history of Canterbury and a variety of images, including some of the Cathedral.

End of Europe's Middle Ages (UCalgary) provides "a brief overview of the conditions at the end of Europe's Middle Ages, the tutorial is presented in a series of chapters that summarize the economic, political, religious and intellectual environment of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries."

Medieval Britain (Britannia Online) boasts an impressive array of online vignettes for all aspects of medieval British topics, including famous events, persons, places.  Highly recommended, especially for those who would like to review their British history.

Feudal Terms of England (Michael Adams, NetSERF) provides a handy glossary of technical terms familiar in the Middle Ages.

The New Advent Catholic Website hosts a number of important resources, especially the online Catholic Encyclopedia (1913 ed.) and its thousands of entries. Although reflecting an earlier ero os scholarship, entries relevant to the General Prologue include:

  Although focused on a slightly later date than Chaucer's age, Jessica A. Browner, Wrong Side of the River: London's Disreputable South Bank in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth CenturyEssays in History 36.2 (1994) is a helpful glance into the sociopolitical life of the Southwark area in the 16th and 17th centuries.  Essays in History is an annual volume published by the graduate students at the University of Virginia's Corcoran Department of History.

4.  Sources, Analogues, & Related Texts

  In the late 12th century, Marie de France composed a series of wonderful lais, short narrative poems involving courtly figures, marvelous plots, and celtic influences, and set them in a frame with a prologue.  Judith P. Shoaf (U of Florida) has generously provided verse translations of most of Marie's Lais:

Marie's Lais and Chaucer's Canterbury Tales can profitably be read in tandem, to the mutual enhancement of both!

Compare the opening of the General Prologue to the Prologue of Langland's Piers Plowman (Harvard).

The Decameron Web, dedicated to Boccaccio's frame tale series, which served as both source and inspiration for the Canterbury Tales (Brown U.)  The Decameron is set during the onset of the Bubonic Plague.

John Lydgate, a fifteenth century follower of Chaucer, imagined his Siege of Thebes to be an extension of the Canterbury Tales, the first tale on the trip home from Canterbury.  In fact, Lydgate writes himself into the Prologue to the Siege of Thebes, which is modeled upon the General Prologue.

The University of Michigan's Corpus of Middle English Prose and Verse has digitized two important late-medieval tale collections:

For a different kind of travel narrative, an edition of The Travels of Sir John Mandeville is available via ftp from Project Gutenberg (tosjm.txt, 433 kb &, 152 kb) 

5.  Online Notes & Commentary

  L. Kip Wheeler offers a handout on Medieval Numerology (Carson-Newman College)

Discussion and links concerning the General Prologue on Larry D. Benson's superlative Harvard Chaucer Page (Harvard U).  Some of the items related to the General Prologue include:

Scott McLetchie (Loyola - New Orleans) offers a splendid virtual tour of Canterbury Cathedral in his A Pilgrimage to Canterbury to the Shrine of St. Thomas.

Mary-Jo Arn offers a number of thoughtful questions at Study Questions for Portions of the General Prologue (Bloomsburg University).

Summaries and lecture notes concerning the genre, structure, and pilgrim portraits in the General Prologue (Daniel T. Kline, U. of Alaska Anchorage).

6.  Online Books & Articles

A generous new online publishing venture: The University of California E-Scholarship Editions. "University of California Press now offers electronic versions of almost all of its journal titles and over 1400 books online, many of them out of print." E-journals are available to subscriber institutions; 400 full texts, many covering medieval topics, are available to the general public; the rest to members of the UC community.

A selection of Chaucer-related and medieval studies titles available to the general public include:

Katharine M. Wilson's "'What Man Artow?' The Narrator as Writer and Pilgrim" is an e-print of her article from Chaucer's Pilgrims: An Historical Guide to The Canterbury Tales.  Ed. Laura and R. T. Lambdin (Westport: Greenwood Press, 1996).

Chaucer Sourcebook, from the Harvard Chaucer Page, offers a number of classic and professional essays from noted Chaucerians, including:

  • E. Talbot Donaldson, "Chaucer the Pilgrim." PMLA 69 (1954): 928-37. A classic article.
  • All articles on the Harvard Chaucer Page reprinted by permission.

Essays in Medieval Studies features full-text articles from the proceedings of the Illinois Medieval Association, online version edited by Allen J. Frantzen (Loyola - Chicago), including:

Anniina Jokinen's Luminarium features Essays and Articles on Chaucer.  

From the Teaching Chaucer in the 90s  post-print from Exemplaria (ed. Christine Rose, Portland State): Cathalin Folks's Of Sondry Folk: The Canterbury Pilgrimage as Metaphor for Teaching Chaucer at the Community College

The Chronotope of Real-Time and Real-Space in Chaucer's Canterbury Pilgrimage; Sociological Poetics and the Canterbury Tales; and Pilgrimage in the Age of Schism (Frederick Martin, Tulane U), from an ongoing e-project melding critical and cultural theory & medieval studies. See Martin's e-dissertation in progress, Pilgrimage in the Age of Schism: Chaucer, Sociological Poetics, and the Canterbury Tales.

Sam Schuman (UMinnesota-Morris) offers interesting fare in an essay entitled "On the Road to Canterbury, Liliput and Elphinstone - The Rough Guide: Satiric Travel Narratives in Chaucer, Swift and Nabokov" from the e-journal Zembla, an online journal devoted to Nabokov.

Compare Chaucer's self-presentation in the Canterbury Tales with his contemporary Thomas Usk in Andrew Galloway's web article, "Private Selves and the Intellectual Marketplace in Late 14th Century England: The Case of the Two Usks." Cite as a web document.

  • See R. A. Shoaf's e-text of Usk's Testament of Love and the ample ancillary materials.

7.  Student Projects & Essays

In a student essay, Jennifer Sou offers The Host's Tale: Constructing Harry Bailly through a Marxist Lens (St. Thomas U). from 

Dene Scoggins' English 316 site (UT Austin) explores "culture, ideology, and issues of canonicity" in the Canterbury Tales, including a student developed page devoted to the General Prologue and each of the pilgrim portraits.

S. Wheeler has put together a 26 slide Power Point presentation on Chaucer and the Canterbury Pilgrims (Georgia Perimeter College).

Anniina Jokkinen's Essays and Articles on Chaucer includes a number of sample student essays, of varying quality.  Like any other source, student essays must be evaluated rigorously, cited correctly, and  used responsibly.

  Mr. Davis's senior English class at Troy High School has put together a fun web page comparing Chaucer's pilgrims to contemporary personalities.

8.  Online Bibliography

9.  Syllabi & Course Descriptions

10.  Images & Multimedia

The Costume Page - Medieval Era Costume (Julie Zetterberg) contains links that will give you some sense of the clothing worn by the Canterbury pilgrims.

11.  Language Helps & Audio Files

Sample audio files (.wav, .au, .aiff) from the General Prologue, recorded at Brigham Young University in 1990, are available from the Chaucer Studio (Paul Thomas, Brigham Young).

Hear the General Prologue read by Jane Zatta (SIU Edwardsville) and follow Middle English text as you listen.

12. Potpourri

Map of Medieval England, c. 1399 (Paul Halsall, IMSB), from Muir's Historical Atlas (1911).

Map of Medieval London (Paul Halsall, IMSB), from Muir's Historical Atlas (1911).

13.  The Next Step

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How to Document
Print & Electronic Sources:
The Chaucer Pedagogy
Documentation Primer


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