Geoffrey Chaucer (1343-1400), often referred to as "the grandfather of English literature," is invariably ranked with Shakespeare and Milton as one of the three greatest poets of the English language. His masterpiece, The Canterbury Tales, has been a touchstone for English-language poetry for more than half a millennium and is one of the most widely read works in the Western canon.
"The Canterbury Tales was written . . . during what the Middle Ages would have considered Chaucer's old age . . . It is a quite astonishing production . . . [He was] free to experiment with narrative in a more audacious way, to challenge orthodoxies old and yet to be formulated, and to explore, exploit, enrich and subvert all the many available kinds of medieval story." -from the Introduction by Derek Pearsall