Sunday, 25 July 2010

Who Murdered Chaucer?

By Terry Jones (The Terry Jones)

Yes, it is a book by the Terry Jones of Monty Python fame. However, that doesn't mean that this is a book that is utterly irreverent, silly and outright nonsense. Oh, no, Mr Jones and his co-authors instead take this book down a very interesting route.

Geoff (as I will call him) did just disappear around the year 1400 with no real explanation of where he went, no funeral, no will etc. For a man of his fame at this time it is highly unusual. So, Mr Jones et all follow the theory that he could possibly have been murdered. Now, this book isn't a simple, examine the evidence of who had the motive, means etc. It instead takes in a much wider scope. Looking at the political situation of the time, the whole nine yards as it were. This makes for very interesting reading as it teaches me some aspects of medieval history that I was largely unaware of.

Once the whole scene is set, the authors then don't go onto the suspects but do look at reasons WHY Chaucer could have been viewed as dangerous by the newly established Henry 4. (It seems that the A-level text of the Canterbury Tales is an incredibly shocking, salacious piece of work for its time).

They also don't argue solely for the murder line and do look at some interesting evidence that Chaucer MAY have lived past the year 1400, and also that he could easily have just taken a tumble off a ladder whilst white-washing. (they don't specify the white-washing part, I added that).

Now, they do suggest a candidate at the end of it all. Thereby not cheating the reader of a solution to this potential crime. I would reveal who it was but then you wouldn't have to read the book.

Overall, reading a piece of non-fiction has made a rather nice change to the otherwise fiction heavy challenge thus far. I rather enjoyed this book, the writing style was rather light but informative and not too heavy and dry in comparison to some non-fiction writers.

In other news, I am moving on from the guitar to the clarinet. A different instrument I know. Will blog more on it later in the week.

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