Understanding the text of the General Prologue still leaves many unanswered
questions about the narrative, its characters, its author, and the time in which
it was written. For a general introduction, see Larry Benson's The
General Prologue, Brother Anthony's The
General Prologue, or James L. Matterer's Pilgrims
Passing To and Fro. For the life of Chaucer, see Benson,
R. M. Lumiansky's Chaucer biography in Bio.com, or the Chaucer
entry in Wikipedia. For historical events of the fourteenth century, begin
with Jane Zatta's Some
Important Events of the Fourteenth Century (English) or Calgary University's
The End of the Middle Ages (Europe).
From there the possibilities for further study are numerous. Those wishing to explore Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales, and aspects of medieval life and thought will find a wealth of available materials on the web--unfortunately, not all of them accurate. Caveat lector--let the reader beware! Three sites that serve as good starting points are these:
|The Chaucer MetaPage - maintained by a group of university professors, all Chaucer specialists, who carefully review the quality of sites and materials before providing links to them. This site also features the MetaMentors, three university professors who will e-mail answers to serious enquiries about Chaucer and medieval life.|
|The Harvard Chaucer Page - maintained by Larry Benson, editor of The Riverside Chaucer. This site provides excellent commentary on The Canterbury Tales and relevant aspects of medieval life, as well as tools for research and useful links to other sites|
|The Chaucer Pedagogy Page - maintained by Daniel Kline of the University of Alaska Anchorage. This site approaches Chaucer studies from the point of view of the teacher (K-16) who wants to use web-accessible materials. Useful for students as well, it is kept up to date and has extensive links.|
Despite the growing number of Chaucer-related materials available on the web, with few exceptions, those wishing to do involved study of some aspect of the General Prologue will want to consult the books and journal articles that deal with their particular interest. To learn what is available, and there is a lot, consult the excellent Chaucer bibliographies listed on the Chaucer MetaPage, some of which provide summaries of all articles and books listed.
For books and articles on general medieval topics (not specifically Chaucerian) consult Jim Marchand's WEMSK bibliographies, compiled by Stephen Carey.