The influence of foreign literatures; the English period; subjects and themes
Traditionally, critics divide Chaucer's literary carrier into three periods, corresponding to the influences and styles that characterise his writing. The first is the French period. French French culture was very important in England at the time and, under the influence of French poetic conventions, he translated the Roman de la rose and he wrote The Book of the Duchess. Visiting Italy on his mission Chaucer became acquainted with Italian literature, and the works that he wrote in the Italian period are coloured by Italian reminiscences, particularly Dante and Boccaccio: Dante's great vision of a journey, described in the Comedy, inspired The House of Fame, particularly the idea that in his dream the poet is carried by an eagle to the House of Fame: some of them see their requests granted, and others are rejected. Troilus and Criseyde shows the influence of Boccaccio.
In The Canterbury Tale, which was written during the English period, Chaucer reached artistic maturity, and added to the previous influences the contribution of his unique personality: his gift of observation, his descriptive ability, his humour and his irony emerge when he describes nearly every type of person living in England, from the various social classes or the time.
The variety of subjects and themes, ranging from marriage to love, war, hypocrisy, chivalry, greed , etc and the numerous types of narrative pieces, from courtly romance to classical legends, from miracles to episodes in the lives of the saints to the beasts fables or coarse stories, render the Canterbury tales a remarkable anthology of the medieval literature.