quote by George Saintsbury

The Italian prose tale had begun to exercise that influence as early as Chaucer's time: but circumstances and atmosphere were as yet unfavourable for its growth.

— George Saintsbury

Gorgeous Chaucer quotations

I shall write a book some day about the appropriateness of names.

Geoffrey Chaucer has a ribald ring, as is proper and correct, and Alexander Pope was inevitably Alexander Pope. Colley Cibber was a silly little man without much elegance and Shelley was very Percy and very Bysshe.


Anyone who is too lazy to master the comparatively small glossary necessary to understand Chaucer deserves to be shut out from the reading of good books forever.

Purists behave as if there was a vintage year when language achieved a measure of excellence which we should all strive to maintain. In fact, there was never such a year. The language of Chaucer's or Shakespeare's time was no better and no worse than that of our own - just different.

The characteristic of Chaucer is intensity: of Spencer, remoteness: of Milton elevation and of Shakespeare everything.

You know what my favourite quotation is?.

. It's from Chaucer... Criseyde says it, "I am myne owene woman, wel at ese."


Here Greek and Roman find themselves alive along these crowded shelves; and Shakespeare treads again his stage, and Chaucer paints anew his age.

The worshipful father and first founder and embellisher of ornate eloquence in our English, I mean Master Geoffrey Chaucer.

The quiet tenderness of Chaucer, where you almost seem to hear the hot tears falling, and the simple choking words sobbed out.

I have an unconscious burglar living in my mind: If I read something, it's mine.

I can read Middle English stories, Geoffrey Chaucer or Sir Thomas Malory, but once I start moving in the direction of contemporary fantasy, my mind begins to take over.

The story of Ulysses and Agamemnon and Menelaus, of Jesus, of the Good Knight of Chaucer, lives in every one of us.


In Homer and Chaucer there is more of the innocence and serenity of youth than in the more modern and moral poets. The Iliad is not Sabbath but morning reading, and men cling to this old song, because they still have moments of unbaptized and uncommitted life, which give them an appetite for more.

Reading Chaucer is like brushing through the dewy grass at sunrise.

Natural, hell! What was it Chaucer Said once about the long toil that goes like blood to the poems making? Leave it to nature and the verse sprawls, Limp as bindweed, if it break at all Life's iron crust Man, you must sweat And rhyme your guts taut, if you'd build Your verse a ladder.

Soul of the age! The applause, delight, the wonder of our stage! My Shakespeare , rise; I will not lodge thee by Chaucer or Spenser , or bid Beaumont lie A little further, to make thee a room; Thou art a monument, without a tomb, And art alive still, while thy book doth live, And we have wits to read , and praise to give .

No poem, not even Shakespeare or Milton or Chaucer, is ever strong enough to totally exclude every crucial precursor text or poem.


I was sorry to have my name mentioned as one of the great authors, because they have a sad habit of dying off. Chaucer is dead, Spencer is dead, so is Milton, so is Shakespeare, and I’m not feeling so well myself.

I walk out into a nature such as the old prophets and poets Menu, Moses, Homer, Chaucer, walked in. You may name it America, but it is not America. Neither Americus Vespucius, nor Columbus, nor the rest were the discoverers of it. There is a truer account of it in Mythology than in any history of America so called that I have seen.

If we took Chaucer's writings at face value, we'd have to conclude he was a complete drip.

On the whole, Chaucer impresses us as greater than his reputation, and not a little like Homer and Shakespeare, for he would haveheld up his head in their company.

We admire Chaucer for his sturdy English wit.

... But though it is full of good sense and humanity, it is not transcendent poetry.For picturesque description of persons it is, perhaps, without a parallel in English poetry; yet it is essentially humorous, as the loftiest genius never is.


If you read only the best, you will have no need of reading the other books, because the latter are nothing but a rehash of the best and the oldest. To read Shakespeare, Plato, Dante, Milton, Spenser, Chaucer, and their compeers in prose, is to read in condensed form what all others have diluted.

The true use of Shakespeare or of Cervantes, of Homer or of Dante, of Chaucer or of Rabelais, is to augment one's own growing inner self. . . . The mind's dialogue with itself is not primarily a social reality. All that the Western Canon can bring one is the proper use of one's own solitude, that solitude whose final form is one's confrontation with one's own mortality.

In one particular chapter in Ulysses, James Joyce imitates every major writing style that's been used by English and American writers over the last 700 years - starting with Beowulf and Chaucer and working his way up through the Renaissance, the Victorian era and on into the 20th century.

First impressions of mediaeval life are usually coloured by the courtly romances of Malory and his later refiners. Chaucer brings us down to reality, but his people belong to a prosperous middle-class world, on holiday and in holiday mood. Piers Plowman stands alone as a revelation of the ignorance and misery of the lower classes, whose multiplied grievances came to a head in the Peasants' Revolt of 1381.

Dan Chaucer, well of English undefyled,On Fames eternall beadroll worthie to be fyled.


Chaucer followed Nature everywhere, but was never so bold to go beyond her.

And Chaucer, with his infantine Familiar clasp of things divine.

The slight, the facile and the merely self-glorifying tend to drop away over the centuries, and what we are left with is the bedrock: Homer and Milton, the Greek tragedian and Shakespeare, Chaucer and Cervantes and Swift, Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy and James and Conrad. Time does not make their voices fainter, on the contrary, it reinforces our sense of their truth-telling capacity.

In the final exam in the Chaucer course we were asked why he used certain verbal devices, certain adjectives, why he had certain characters behave in certain ways. And I wrote, 'I don't think Chaucer had any idea why he did any of these things. That isn't the way people write.' I believe this as strongly now as I did then. Most of what is best in writing isn't done deliberately.

I have these guilts about never having read Chaucer but I was talked out of learning Early Anglo-Saxon / Middle English by a friend who had to take it for her Ph.D. They told her to write an essay in Early Anglo-Saxon on any-subject-of-her-own-choosing. “Which is all very well,” she said bitterly, “but the only essay subject you can find enough Early Anglo-Saxon words for is ‘How to Slaughter a Thousand Men in a Mead Hall’.