The Canterbury Tales: General Prologue & Frame Story Literature and Writing Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Line). We used the line numbering found on Librarius's online edition.
That is so horrible a tale for to rede,
Whan he hir threw upon the pavement.
And therfore he, of ful avysement,
Nolde nevere write in none of his sermons
Of suche unkynde abhomynacions,
Ne I wol noon reherce if that I may.
(Man of Law's Introduction 84 – 89)
The "abomination" of which the Man of Law speaks is the rape of his own daughter by a character in a romance. In expressing a dislike of tragedy, the Man of Law echoes the opinion Knight and Host give after the Monk's Tale. But Apollonius of Tyre, the romance from which this episode comes, was one of the first romances written in English and was actually very popular.
Telle us som murie thyng of aventures.
Youre termes, youre colours, and youre figures,
Keepe hem in stoor til so be ye endite
Heigh style, as whan that men to kynges write.
Speketh so pleyn at this tyme, we yow preye,
That we may understonde what ye seye.
(Clerk's Prologue 15 – 20)
The Host is afraid that the studious clerk will use too many big words in his tale, making the rest of the pilgrims unable to understand him. Maybe this concern on the part of the Host reveals his democratic sensibility – he wants everybody, and not just the studious types among the pilgrims, to be able to participate in the contest.
Fraunceys Petrak, the lauriat poete,
Highte this clerk, whos rethorike sweete,
Enlumyned al Ytaille of poetrie,
As Lynyan dide of philosophie,
Or lawe, or oother art particuler.
(Clerk's Prologue 31 – 35)
It's not surprising that the Clerk knows a lot about the most famous figures in every field, even very specialized ones. After all, he spends so much time studying! It's also clear from this that he has lots of respect for people with specialized knowledge.