I’m getting close to the end of the 30-Day Book Challenge, and today’s prompt is “a book that changed your opinion on something.” This might seem like an odd choice, but my answer to this one is Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales.
I took a class solely on Chaucer in college, expecting it to be very boring. Old language, old topics, old people. But I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the class and how much I learned from it. Many of the issues that Chaucer wrote about (misogyny, adultery, corrupt religion) are issues we still deal with today. People are still writing about the things Chaucer wrote about, but with different words.
And half the fun of reading Chaucer was learning Middle English. It’s a beautiful language, especially when read aloud, and it’s interesting to see the origin of some words we use today, as well as words that fell out of use. I’m still trying to bring words like “weylawey” and “corage” back into everyday use. I wonder why they ever disappeared!
Ultimately, The Canterbury Tales showed me that old literature does not have to be boring and outdated. Chaucer was actually hilarious, and had a knack for coming up with ridiculous situations. But even when being funny, he wrote about issues that many would be too scared to write about back then and even now. He wrote about gender roles and abuse, although there are many interpretations on what his messages were “supposed” to be. In any case, through Chaucer’s writing I realized that humans have not changed very much over the past 700 years, and neither has storytelling. It has always been a way of commenting on the human experience and shared struggles.