Earth’s Rock and Roll

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.blog

How the Earth Works

By: Professor Michael E. Wysession

Narrated by Professor Wysession

Michael Wysession (Lecturer, Professor of Earth and Plaentary Science at Washington University in St. Louis).

Professor Michael Wysession believes the origin of earth began with the “The Big Bang”.  He explains how earth is in constant motion. Wysession implies “The Big Bang” reverberates today as evidence of its truth.

Most know some of the story of earth’s creation, destruction, and re-creation, but few know everything Wysession reveals.  Yes, the world was once one large land mass amid a body of water that covered the earth.  This land mass broke apart to become seven continents.  What is surprising to some is that this singular land mass called Pangaea is only one of several land masses in earth’s history.

A precursor to Pangaea is Rodinia which is believed to have formed 1.3 to 1.23 billion years ago. Another singular land mass is Pannotia assembled 600 million years ago.

Rodinia (A super-continent long before Pangaea).

There were several super-continents before Pangaea.  Each iteration of a singular land mass evolved over millions of years based on moving plate combinations and re-combinations. Wysession goes on to explain the theory of Plate Tectonics.   

Contrary to the myth of “Journey to the Center of the Earth” there is no space at earth’s center.  The center of earth is solid iron; surrounded by a molten nickel-iron alloy.  Though the center of the earth is solid, it has movement but not like that experienced in the lithosphere. 

Despite the great heat at earth’s center, its center is iron that is not liquefied.  The geometric pressure of Earth’s interior overcomes lead’s liquefaction at its core 

Wysession explains that geologists have found several (more than seven and less than twenty-four) plates that float within a layer of earth called the lithosphere.  The lithosphere consists of the crust and upper mantle of earth.  This crust and upper mantle cover a solid core made of iron that is super-heated by radioactivity. 

Wysession notes the core of earth moves with pressures exerted by changes in the lithosphere.  Plate Tectonics affect earth’s molten nickel-iron alloy and its solid core.  Earth is always in a state of motion; often imperceptible to the eye but always moving.

Wysession explains how everything on earth moves but at different speeds.  Even the hardest and largest rocks move over time.

Wind can be a tornado or a breeze.  Water can be a gentle rain or a tsunami.  Rocks erode over centuries of wind and rain, but instantly break in avalanches.  Humans may think they are standing still, but the earth constantly moves in a circle and hurdles deeper into the universe as a small part of a galaxy.  Nothing on earth is at rest.

Wysession notes how apocryphal stories in the bible may be founded on the truth of earth’s history.  The threat of subduction in a tectonic plate could explain the legend of Atlantis or the parting of the “Red Sea” in the time of Moses. 

Wysession notes there are three types of faults that cause earthquakes.  There is a divergent fault, a convergent fault, and a transform fault.  The first is one that has two plates the move away from each other with molten rock plugging the gap.  The second is when two plates collide but one rushes beneath another, or if equal in size, create a mountain at the collision point.  The third is like the San Adreas Fault in California where tectonic plates rub against each other.

Wysession notes any plate movement can be disastrous and kill many people, but a transform fault shakes the earth while a convergent fault makes land disappear (subduct) or rise like a mountain.

A frightening observation by Wysession is the difference between the tectonic faults in the La-San Francisco corridor and Seattle, Washington. 

Both are at risk of earthquakes, but Seattle’s plate tectonics are convergent faults while San Franciso/LA’s are transform faults. 

Wysession’s observation on the difference in these faults suggests the geological change in Seattle from an earthquake will be much greater than in the LA-San Francisco area. Deaths will be equally catastrophic but the change in topography will be geometrically greater in Seattle.

Wysession continues with a detailed lecture on volcanic eruptions.

Anyone who lived in Washington when Mt. St. Helens erupted will confirm Wysession’s explanation of volcanic events.  Living in eastern Washington when that eruption occurred makes one fully appreciate Wysession’s lecture. Over 200 miles from the eruption, a beautiful summer day turns into night. (It was like a biblical event.)

You cannot see a hand in front of your face in a few hours after St. Helen’s eruption.  Cars are covered in fine flakes of ash.  Everyone with any sense stays indoors because unfiltered air is unbreathable.

There seems a surprise in every Wysession’ lecture. Things we did not know or fully appreciate are pointed out. There is the incredible power in earth’s weakest force, better known as gravity, that creates and destroys the universe.

We see the deterioration of monuments of granite from centuries of weathering and the force of gravity. Rocks fall down, the face of the earth changes, deserts are formed, and jungles evolve. But, we fail to comprehend the eternal change of our world because of geological time frames, and our short lived lives.

Today we worry about destruction of forests in Brazil because of the loss of carbon dioxide eating trees. We fail to realize the largest desert in the world is Antarctica, and jungles of the rain forest do not have enough organic material in their soil to grow food to sustain life. We underestimate the critical impact of a dwindling potable water supply.

The last chapters of Wysession’s lectures deal with climate change and the impact of geological change on the history of humankind.

Like many science specialists, Wysession’s claim that a principle cause of revolutions and other world events is closely related to geological events. It is a somewhat plausible argument but it fails to recognize the political will of those who are discontented with the status quo

Wysession assesses the worlds use of energy and concludes alternative energy sources will replace carbon based pollutants. He suggests harnessing the geological sources of natural energy like the sun, wind, and ocean currents. They offer plausible replacements for the earth’s dwindling supplies of coal, oil, and gas. However, Wysession thinks in geological time and believes humans have the capacity to innovate their way out of a sixth extinction. One hopes Wysession is right, but what if he is not?

One tends to be skeptical when leaders can arbitrarily change the momentum of environmental change.

There is a great deal more in this 24 hour and 31-minute lecture series.  On the one hand it is revelatory; on the other, it reinforces a belief that human life’s continuation is a chance as much as a choice.

INSANITY’S RESURRECTION

Book Review
Personal Library
cheyarbrough.blog

The Professor and the Madman
By Simon Winchester
 

Simon Winchester (English author, National Book Award Winner for Non Fiction)

Simon Winchester’s book begins with a “bang”. It comes from a hand gun brandished by Dr. William Chester Minor (1834 to 1920)

Minor arbitrarily murders George Merrett on a London suburban street in 1871.

Minor is an American civil war surgeon who lived through the “battle of the Wilderness”.  An innocent and unsuspecting Englishman is shot dead by Minor in a small town near London. 

Surprisingly, this random murder is the beginning of a brief history of the Oxford Dictionary. Dr. Minor is “…the Madman”. “The Professor…” is James Murray, a lexicographer, principally responsible for the completion and final editing of the first Oxford English Dictionary.

Winchester reveals how an intelligent young physician’s life evolves from an American civil war surgeon to murderer to skilled etymologist (an expert in word origins).   He describes how Minor’s criminal madness isolates him.

After trial for murder, and conviction, Minor is sent to an English insane asylum to serve his sentence.  Minor, a Yale graduate, uses his incarceration (when not debilitated by paranoid delusions) to read books.

Broadmoor Hospital (High-security psychiatric hospital)

After “The Professor and the Mad Man” ‘s murderous opening, Winchester recounts the early history of dictionaries; dating back to the 17th century.

Winchester touches on the first Oxford dictionary created by Samuel Johnson in 1755.  In 1857, over 100 years after Johnson’s original English dictionary, a speech is given at the London Library.

Richard Trench suggests a new, more comprehensive, Oxford English Dictionary (to become known as the OED) should be created. This monumental undertaking is estimated to take two years in Trench’s opinion. It takes over sixty.

Richard Chenevix Trench (1807-1886, Irish Poet, Anglican archbishop)

The editor who completes the dictionary is James Murray. Murray becomes a lynch pin reputational resurrection of William Chester Minor. Minor’s resurrection is tied to his voracious reading habit.

James Murray (1837-1915, Scottish lexicographer and philogist.)

Methodology for the OED’s reification relies on past dictionaries and volunteers.  Volunteers are recruited via flyers and letters asking for readers to glean words and quotes from books written in particular periods of time; for example, books written from 1200 to 1300.   

W.C. Minor receives one of these flyers at the asylum.  He responds and becomes an important source of information for the Dictionary. 

Minor establishes correspondence with editors of the compendium and begins delivering some of the detail needed to complete the book for publication.  It gives his life a focus that partially mitigates his madness.

Murray takes the helm 22 years after former editors earlier work to update Samuel Johnson’s master work.  Five years after Murray’s appointment, the first publication is made.  It covers A through Ant in 352 pages.

Perhaps the most productive editor of the dictionary is Professor James Murray. 

OED first edition by James Murray.

Winchester goes on to describe the odd first meeting between Minor and Murray.  Murray has no idea that Minor is in an insane asylum.  Minor is housed 60 miles from Murray’s editing facility, the Scriptorium.  Several versions of the meeting are reported.

Minor is eventually repatriated to the United States from his asylum incarceration in England (interestingly because of Winston Churchill’s intervention) but he dies ignominiously.   

Ironically, according to Winchester, the source of W.C. Minor’s story are George Merrett’s descendants (the murder victim’s family).

Dr. William Chester Minor

Insanity is not a crime. It is also not necessarily the end of one’s contribution to society.

The Oxford English Dictionary was finally completed in 1927, nearly 70 years after its conception.

AMERICAN FATHERS

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.blog

Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls

By: T Kira Madden

Narrated by T Kira Madden

T. Kira Madden, Author

T Kira Madden’s memoir is a non-fiction account of her life.   This memoir may reach beyond America. It rings true for many children wherever they are raised.  Madden is the child of a philandering father; mostly raised by her mother, but deeply connected to her father. 

Madden’s father is never far from her thoughts but frequently gone from her presence.

Her journey to adulthood is difficult.  Children can love their parents with “Leave it to Beaver” ideals, but in the midst of a chaotic family life, Madden shows children’s lives are scarred.  Many American children are affected by parental absence, and conflict.  In childhood’s journey, physical and mental abuse between parents affects a child’s view of the world.  Their place in it is confused, indeterminate, and seriously affected by the way parents behave.  Madden tells the story of those conflicts in her memoir. 

Sometimes parental absence is because of working parents.  Other times, it is because of the personal lives’ parents live. In Madden’s case it is more of the former than the latter.  Madden’s father works in an undisclosed profession and makes a good deal of money but is absent for long periods of time.  As Madden finds later, part of her father’s absence is because of another family. He is the husband and father of a different wife and children.

Both of Madden’s parents are recovering addicts.  Madden’s parents fall into what she calls “sleepy time” when they over-indulge. At times, her father physically abuses her mother.  Her father’s other family may suffer some of the same effects but that is not the focus of Madden’s memoir.  This is Madden’s life story; not her father’s, and not the family she had yet to meet.  Madden recounts meeting with her father’s other family as an epilogue at the end of her story.

Madden’s story begins with the purchase of a male mannequin as a substitute father.  The mannequin is a symbol of male presence.  It offers a kind of security when mother and child are at home alone.  It is something more to Madden.  That “more” is a reflection on the title of her book.

To a father, Madden’s memoir is heart breaking.  Men are frequently indiscriminate in their relationships. Often, they have little concern for the consequences of their action. 

Men spread their seed and can walk away.  Women are stuck with the most difficult question of being–life or death.

One might argue that women have a choice but that ignores history’s male domination and world paternalism. 

Women are always left with the major decisions of life when they become pregnant.  Fathers can leave or stay.  Women can never leave. Women stay with a decision to abort, adopt, or single-parent a yet to be born child.  The reality of staying is a physical and mental trial for women; pending a life sentence.  For men, if there is a sentence, it is limited to guilt and an uncertain, and frequently ignored, financial penalty.

“Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls” implies an abusive or profligate father is a bump in the road; rather than a tragedy. 

Madden shows a child can survive the worst a broken family can do and become something better.  Madden’s story begs the question of how many children of single parents are unable to meet the challenges of a neglectful father, and how many of those children are life’s casualties?

WOMEN IN WAR

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.blog

The Unwomanly Face of War–An Oral History of Women in World War II

By: Svetlana Alexievich, Translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky

Narrated by Julia Emelin, Yelena Shmulenson

Svetlana Alexievich (Author, Belorussian Investigative Journalist, 2015 Nobel Prize in Literature–for her polyphonic writings.)

The author of “The Unwomanly Face of War”, Svetlana Alexievich, suggests women’s deployment in war dates to the Greco-Roman wars.  However, some say Russia is the first nation to deploy women as combat troops.  History shows Russia enlisted women as combat troops in WWI. 

“The Unwomanly Face of War” notes nearly 1,000,000 women joined the Russian military to defeat the German armies in WWII. 

Alexievich interviews former WWII Russian women as pilots, snipers, mine clearing commanders, and military tank leaders. Some were as young as 13; others in their late teens or early 20’s when they joined. At the time of the interviews, all were in their 50’s or older.   By any definition, these Russian women were combat troops.

This is a particularly timely release of a translation of “The Unwomanly Face of War”.  In western nations, as early as the 1940 s, the role of women in the military has been in transition. 

Most countries recognize the immense contribution “women in war” have made since WWI. However, the WWII veterans in Russia’s battles were not fully recognized until the 1950s.

What Alexievich offers is a peek into what Russian women in combat experienced during WWII.  She identifies similarities and differences military men and women experience in war.  To listeners of Alexievich’s interviews, similarities appear much greater than the differences.

The preeminent common characteristic among combat troops is nationalism.  Whether man or woman, the belief in the sovereignty of one’s country supersedes gender.  The disgust for an invading country and its military is equally reviled. 

Alexievich suggests women feel the atrocity of war more than men because women bare and raise children. She argues women are more nurturing and emotion driven than men. 

However, her interviews recount two events that would equally engage and enrage men as women.    

Two interviews reveal a mother’s decision to sacrifice her children.  One circumstance is for a mother to quiet a crying child by infanticide because of an approaching German troop.  The second is a mother who has her child carry a bomb into a military mess hall to kill the enemy as well as the sacrificed child. How does maternal instinct differ from the worst actions taken by men?

The human response to war seems as brutally evident in women as men.  The trauma of war seems to be absorbed in similar ways.  War experience is something never forgotten, and often repressed.  There seems little difference among the sexes based on Alexievich’s interviews of WWII women veterans.

Another example that seems more of a provisioning than sex difference is the reality of menstruation and how it is to be dealt with in combat circumstances.  With proper provisioning the difference between the sexes seems miniscule.

Another circumstance alluded to is the physical strength differences between the sexes.  The circumstance recalled is a woman tank commander who cannot physically rescue an injured tank soldier because she is unable to lift him out of the tank. 

Pulling dead weight is a limit for men as well as women. Though the average strength differences might be true between all men and all women, brute strength is an extraordinary need in war; not a common requirement. If one person is not enough to move a wounded soldier, he/she gets help.

“The Unwomanly Face of War” addresses the reality of conjugal sex in war.  War is little different than life in the civilized world when it comes to the battle of the sexes.  Alexievich recounts affections that rise between men and women in the field of war.  One can appreciate exaggerated interdependence when one’s life is at stake.  Maybe there is a difference, but the difference seems more of imagination than reality.  Peace has its own way of corrupting the relationship between men and women.  One must question how different the battle between the sexes is in war than in peace. 

Common purpose brings the sexes together in both war and peace. When common purpose is absent, the sexes battle for their personal interests.  What distorts the battle is power.

History suggests power more often lies with men than women whether in civilian or military life.  Until there is equalization in power, the potential for fairness among the sexes is unlikely. 

Whether in war or peace, sexual orientation is subject to inequality.  The only remedy is a set of rules and regulations judiciously enforced.

One will draw their own conclusion about the role of women in war after listening to “The Unwomanly Face of War”.  Whether in a time of war or peace, what is incontestable is unequal treatment of women

CLOSED MINDS

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.blog

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

By: Michelle Alexander

Narrated by Karen Chilton

MICHELLE ALEXANDER (AUTHOR, CIVIL RIGHTS ADVOCATE, VISITING PROFESSOR AT UNION THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY)

Multicultural societies are threatened by closed minds. Michelle Alexander pulls no punches in explaining how American minds are not exempt.  From both conscious and subconscious actions, people who are perceived as different are treated unequally.   

America like most (if not all) nations is a failed  egalitarian state.  From its early history, America has striven to mitigate inequality but with mixed results, and only marginal successes.

As memorialized in the Constitution’s 14th Amendment (which requires equality of all before the law) America attempts to treat all people equally.  America succeeds in principle and fails in practice. 

Though the American mind is willing, the will fails to support the mind.  Alexander notes how some laws passed by the American government purposely, and sometimes inadvertently, undermine the Constitutional guarantees of equality for all.

The veil of which Dubois is speaking is the real affect of American laws and customs on black Americans. It is the same veil one sees in history that is written by victors; not the defeated.

Examples of unequal treatment are noted by Alexander.  She exposes the insidious affects of the war on drugs and America’s “3 strikes law” that disproportionately affect the poor; particularly those raised in black communities.

Alexander reflects on America’s failure to address root causes of crime—like unemployment, inadequate medical care, poor education, and racial discrimination.  She suggests those failures are exemplified by “…New Jim Crow” laws.  Her point is that “…New Jim Crow” laws are re-hatched by the War on Drugs and “3 strikes law”.  Jim Crow laws segregated the Southern United States in the late 19th and early 20th century.  Her argument is that today’s Jim Crow laws are like Dubois explanation of the veil of American acts of conscience.  It is a veil in the guise of fighting crime. 

No one wants crime; whether poor or rich. The author does not argue that fewer violent crimes occur in poor communities.  She acknowledges more violent crimes occur in poor communities. But, poor communities, like all communities, abhor the reality of violent crime. 

Whether poor or not, all want protection from violence.  No one wants to see their family threatened.  Those truths make the policies of the War on Drugs and 3 strikes appealing to most Americans.  Alexander’s point is these well meaning policies do not address the root causes of crime. They attempt to treat symptoms rather than offer cures. In treating the symptoms, the underlying causes remain untouched and ever virulent.

Alexander suggests the war on drugs and “3 strikes law” are a return of Jim Crow laws that segregated the Southern United States. 

The War on Drugs and 3 strikes neglect the reality of living in poor neighborhoods.  Poor neighborhoods resort to drug use and sale because it is the only job available, or often the only way of escaping the reality of being trapped in a circle of despair.  

When a person is convicted of a violent crime, manufacture or sale of drugs, or minor drug charges, they are marked for life. 

Job applications ask if they have ever been convicted of a crime. If the answer is yes, most are left with poor prospects for employment or advancement.  No effort is made to rehabilitate but only to isolate. Once a criminal, always a criminal.

America chooses not to spend money to educate the young in poor school districts.  America chooses to ignore the circumstances of drug addiction or the need for medical treatment.  Crime is a zero-sum game with no treatment for the psychologically disturbed. Little investment is made in rehabilitation or re-introduction into society for the first-time offender.  

The drug laws and “3 strikes law” dis-proportionally fall on the poor and black as evidenced by America’s prison population.  Alexander argues the real effect of these laws is the same as the historic Jim Crow laws.  They segregate minorities from the dominate American culture.

Alexander’s book is difficult for some to read because it denies the universality of the American Dream.  What is forgotten is how much the luck of race and circumstance play in everyone’s life.  Equally forgotten is the good for those in power is not always good for those without power. 

Dubois and Alexander have something in common.  Minds must be kept open to the truth.  Empathy is needed by both those in power and those without power.  Trust must come from both sides of any power structure. 

Police who brutalize the poor are as guilty of crime as the poor who victimize the rich.  Each needs to put themselves in the other’s shoes to understand their own closed mindedness. 

With better understanding of ourselves and others, more will be done to constructively address public policy failures.  The alternative is increased cultural deterioration, discontent, and violence.  

MORAL FRAGILITY

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.blog

The Age of Innocence

By: Edith Wharton

Narrated by Lorna Raver

Edith Wharton (American novelist, playwright, and designer, Pulitzer Prize winner, 1862-1937.)

Wharton’s “The Age of Innocence” exposes false notions of equality of the sexes in America and reflects on the human frailty and strength of men and women.

Edith Wharton lived through the turn of the 19th and 20th century in America.  She lived an adult life of luxury in New York, and later in France. 

Wharton writes about American society; i.e. she exposes New York’s “upstairs, downstairs” snobbery in the early 20th century.


Newland Archer is engaged to be married to May Welland when a childhood friend comes to visit relatives in New York.

In telling the tale, Wharton sharply defines the battle of the sexes, duplicity of romance, and folly of youth.  Though writing of a sliver of wealthy American’ society in the early 20th century, Wharton’s story rings as true about men and women today as it did when she won the Pulitzer Prize.

A childhood friend is Ellen Olenska, a 30-year-old married countess that left New York in her youth.  Newland begins to question his love for May Welland.  His reasons for questioning are not clear to himself.  Wharton infers the reasons are idealized romance and lust.

Archer idealizes Olenska.  His idealization comes from unrequited lust.  Olenska is a married woman.  She is not available.

Archer knows his soon-to-be wife, May, is committed to him and takes her for granted.  Archer’s lust for Olenska conflicts with Archer’s morals. The nature of unrequited lust is that the thought or idea of sex is perfect.  In Archer’s mind, Olenska becomes an objectified sex object (a perfect fantasy), and May will never be good enough.  Archer is psychologically prepared to abandon May and pursue a “perfect” relationship with Olenska.

Olenska, in one respect, is Archer’s alter-ego.  She views Archer as a perfect companion because Archer is not available.  Archer is committed to another woman.  Olenska lusts for Archer but with better insight to the truth.  Her life experience tells her to resist infatuation.  She knows that once lust is satisfied, social reality returns.

Archer views May as a complacent woman that will make a boring wife.  In contrast, Wharton shows May to be a perceptive woman that understands Archer’s and Olenska’s relationship.  May correctly diagnoses Archer’s false idealization and subtlety maneuvers Archer to quash the burgeoning affair with Olenska.

In the end, Wharton shows Archer to be morally shallow.  Archer chooses to keep his innocent memory; i.e. his deluded vision of romance, commitment, and love.

May and Olenska are shown to understand the difference between lust and romance; commitment, and love.  Archer never does.  Archer never gets over “The Age of Innocence”.

CHAUCER-AHEAD OF TIME

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.blog

The Modern Scholar: Bard of the Middle Ages: The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer

By: Michael Drout

Lectures by Michael Drout

Michael Drout (Professor of English and Director of the Center for the Study of the Medieval at Wheaton College).

Geoffrey Chaucer (1343-1400, author, poet, philosopher, bureaucrat, diplomat).

Geoffrey Chaucer is a master of ambiguity.  Michael Drout, in the Modern Scholar series, offers an informative and laudatory appreciation of Chaucer as the Bard of the Middle Ages.  Drout notes that Chaucer’s view of life is best revealed in The Canterbury Tales.

Drout offers high praise for Chaucer, suggesting The Canterbury Tales seeds centuries of fictional narratives; in part because of Chaucer’s prescient understanding of human nature but also because of life’s ambiguous truths.  Drout considers Chaucer equal to William Shakespeare, widely believed the greatest poet and playwright of all time.

Drout gives a brief narrative about what is known of Chaucer’s life.  Chaucer mingles with all classes of society.  From an upper middle-class upbringing as the son of a wine merchant, Chaucer bridges lower and upper-class English life. 

Chaucer went to war for England in France.  He was captured but freed with the payment of ransom because of his family’s royal connections.  Through marriage and familiarity, Chaucer begins a career in the English court. 

Hundred Years War between England and France (1336-1453).

Clockwise, from top left: The Battle of La Rochelle,
The Battle of Agincourt,
The Battle of Patay,
Joan of Arc at the Siege of Orléans

Though Drout touches on other Chaucer works, particularly Troilus and Cressida, Drout’s primary focus is on The Canterbury Tales.

Drout explains that Chaucer’s wide social experience, and ability to charm the upper class appeals to the general public. It affords him income as an appointed representative of the government.  He works as a diplomat, and later Justice of the Peace.  His positions allow him time to observe and write about English life.  The culmination of Chaucer’s observations about life is in The Canterbury Tales. 

In reviewing The Canterbury Tales, Drout notes how Chaucer cleverly conceals his opinions by distancing himself from the characters he creates. One can look at the tales and see an underlying criticism of the church, support for women’s rights, seeds of class conflict, and nascent relativism.

Chaucer was ahead of his time.


One clearly sees how Chaucer must have been an extraordinary diplomat.  All of these tales suggest seditious acts; each in opposition to the culture of Chaucer’s time.  If not presented in the entertaining and ambiguous guise of The Canterbury Tales, Chaucer may have been ridiculed rather than lauded.

Poets Corner in Westminster Abby.

Geoffrey Chaucer is buried in the south transept (or south cross) of Westminster Abbey, now known as Poets’ Corner.

Though Drout does not suggest Chaucer endorses cultural’ transgressions, it appears Chaucer is ambiguous about his character’s opinions.  Drout suggests Chaucer may have been repentant in The Parson’s Tale (the last of the Canterbury Tales that endorses the religion of Chaucer’s era) because he is nearing the end of his life.  In any case, it is clear that Chaucer is ahead of his time; earned his place in West Minster Abbey (the first poet to be buried there), and deserved his reputation as the Father of English Literature.