Chaucer and Boccaccio

The most common verse forms used by Chaucer are rhyming couplets of iambic pentameter - the "heroic couplet", which became a standard English verse form, and the "rhyme royal", a seven-line stanza of iambic pentameter (a stanza of seven ten-syllable lines), rhyming ababbcc. Most of The Canterbury Tales are in heroic couplets.
A very important fact about Chaucer is that, in a period when important literary works were written in French or in Latin, Chaucer wrote all his poetry in English, the first great poet to do so. He chose a dialect, the East Midlands, which was spoken in the area including Lond and the two university cities of Oxford and Cambridge and was anyway destined to become "Kings's English", the national language, and used it for his works, greatly contributing to the prestige of this dialect. This established a tradition among men of letters, similar to what Dante had done writing in the vernacular rather than in Latin, and gained Chaucer the title of "father" of the English Language.


Giovanni Boccaccio (1313-1375) is considered to be one of the Mahler Italian a Renaissance humanists. His famous collection of 100 tales (which where called "novelle"), The Decameron (probably begun in 1350 and finished in 1353) is considered a landmark in Western story-telling tradition. There is no evidence whatsoever that Geoffrey Chaucer had read The Decameron as he never directly quotes it, nor that he even knew Boccaccio was living in Certaldo, South of Florence, and Chaucer was in Italy on a diplomatic mission. However, many critics think that Chaucer knew the work of the Italian writer, and see Boccaccio's influence on Chaucer's masterpiece The Canterbury Tales as undeniable. In fact, many comparative studies done by English critics of the two texts of the two authors have been published over the years. On the other hand, other critics argue that the two works are profoundly different in style and content.

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