The Canterbury Tales

Chaucer, Boccaccio and Dante
Reading and Speaking
p. 43 Millennium 1
What literary precedents did Chaucer have in the choice of a frame for his collection of
Giovanni Boccaccio’s Decameron and Sir Giovanni Sircambi’s Il Novelliere are The
Canterbury Tales literary precedents.
Briefly state Boccaccio’s influence on Chaucer.
Chaucer is indebted to Boccaccio for the idea of the frame into which he inserted his
tales and because one of his tales (the story of Griselda) clearly derives from one of
Boccaccio’s novellas.
Briefly state Dante’s influence on Chaucer.
Chaucer might have taken from Dante’s Divina Comedy the idea of the pilgrimage as a
link throughout the tales; also, Chaucer, like Dante, elevated a vernacular language (the
language spoken by common people) to the dignity of a literary language.
Read the passage from The Canterbury Tales on the next page, then say if there is
anything in it which you can relate to your own readings from Decameron or other
Italian novellas.
Boccaccio’s Decameron is a collection of tales written in prose, while The Canterbury
Tales are written in verse. Both Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales and Boccaccio’s
Decameron deal with a group of people who have gathered together, but in Boccaccio’s
work they all belong to the aristocracy while in Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales they
represent a heterogeneous society. In The Canterbury Tales the action takes place “on
the road”, on the way to Canterbury, while in Boccaccio’s Decameron the action is set in
a villa, a closed and isolated place.

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