The Canterbury Tales is one of the undisputed classics of all time. A collection of stories, two in prose and the remainder in verse, The Canterbury Tales is a product of the 14th century and written in Middle English. As a result, each tale is presented in Middle English, with a translation in the modern English we speak today beside it.
The Canterbury Tales is rich with a multitude of themes, from courtly love to treachery and avarice. Characters of the Middle Ages are beautifully described, elaborate descriptions of prominent figures in noble court to the lowliest of servants. It is a collection of stories that people were encouraged to tell, as they gathered at the Tabard Inn before setting out for a pilgrimage to Canterbury where they were to receive the blessings of the English martyr, St. Thomas à Becket.
The novel is penned by Geoffrey Chaucer, recognized as the Father of English literature because of his contribution to the development and advancement of the vernacular, Middle English. This was at a time when the literary world in England was dominated by French and Latin. It is believed Chaucer combined the dialects of Kent and the Midlands.
Published in 1913, Great Catherine is a short play written by George Bernard Shaw. The purpose of this play was to actually showcase the skills of a particular actress at the time of publication, which it did marvelously.
George Bernard Shaw was and still is considered to be a literary genius. Hailing from Ireland but living most of his life in London, Shaw wasn’t just a well known playwright; he began his writing career as a music and drama critic for several established publications. Many of his plays were transformed into screenplays once he made the move from critic to playwright. His work was recognized internationally, and in 1925 Shaw won the Nobel Prize for Literature.
One of his shorter plays, Great Catherine is based on Catherine the Great of Russia (Catherine II). However, rather than portraying the longest-ruling female leader of the country in a serious manner, Shaw portrays her as a silly ruler who is obsessed with the pursuit of sexual relations. The play is light and full of humor, making it an amusing way to pass the holidays we’re all looking forward to this month!
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Spotlight on Cleopatra
An example of one of the most beautiful and powerful women in ancient history is Cleopatra VII Philopator, the last pharaoh of Ancient Egyptian times during the Ptolemaic dynasty. Cleopatra, who spoke Greek as well as Egyptian, acquired such power through combination of her intelligence and allure. She bewitched Julius Caesar and Mark Antony.
Readers will find John Stevens Cabot Abbott’s biography of Cleopatra to be entertaining, regardless of their age. Abbott, an American writer who served for years as a professor, principal and preacher, is famous for a writing career that features a number of biographies featuring well known figures of yesteryear, as well as several books on Christian ethics because of his religious inclination.
Find out more about Cleopatra, the last pharaoh of Egypt, at All You Can Books right here.