Monday, 19 March 2012

Creative Reworkings: 'The Canterbury Tales'

I'm currently working on a scheme of work for the 'Journeys and Pilgrimages' creative writing option for A Level English Language and Literature and am quite enjoying the challenge. I have been looking, for example, at how recent writers have reinterpreted earlier texts (as I mentioned in an earlier post).

For example, David Lodge turns his attention to the opening of 'The Canterbury Tales' in Small World:

"When April with its sweet showers has pierced the drought of March to the root, and bathed every vein of earth with that liquid by whose power the flowers are engendered; when the zephyr, too, with its dulcet breath, has breathed life into the tender new shoots in every copse and on every heath, and the young sun has run half his course in the sign of the Ram, and the little birds that sleep all night with their eyes open give song (so Nature prompts them in their hearts), then, as the poet Geoffrey Chaucer observed many years ago, folk long to go on pilgrimages. Only, these days, professional people call them conferences."

There is clearly comic potential in seeing conferences as modern-day pilgrimages, though I'm not convinced we can push the analogy very far. However, one way of getting students interested in apparently more inaccessible literature is to have them reinterpret it for their own times.

For anyone who's looking for a more conventional approach to Chaucer, Cambridge University have some useful resources. For the Oxbridge high-fliers, this website is great. And this one is good for for younger students.

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