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Marion Turner's Top Book Recommendations

Want to know what books Marion Turner recommends on their reading list? We've researched interviews, social media posts, podcasts, and articles to build a comprehensive list of Marion Turner's favorite book recommendations of all time.


Social Chaucer

Each generation finds in Chaucer's works the concerns and themes of its own era. But what of Chaucer's contemporaries? For whom was he writing? With what expectations would his original audience have approached his works? In what terms did he and his audience understand their society, and how does his poetry embody a view of society?

These are some of the questions Paul Strohm addresses in this innovative look at the historical Chaucer. Fourteenth-century English society was, he reminds us, in a state of accelerating transition: feudalism was yielding to capitalism, and traditional...
Recommended by Marion Turner, and 1 others.

Marion TurnerWhen it was a very new book, it really radically changed how I thought not only about Chaucer but about what’s possible in modes of historical literary criticism. For me, I think if people were thinking about reading books of literary criticism, I would say that’s a really excellent one to start with. (Source)

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Refugee Tales

Two unaccompanied children travel across the Mediterranean in an overcrowded boat that has been designed to only make it halfway across… A 63-year-old man is woken one morning by border officers ‘acting on a tip-off’ and, despite having paid taxes for 28 years, is suddenly cast into the detention system with no obvious means of escape… An orphan whose entire life has been spent in slavery – first on a Ghanaian farm, then as a victim of trafficking – writes to the Home Office for help, only to be rewarded with a jail sentence and indefinite detention… These are not fictions. Nor are they... more
Recommended by Marion Turner, and 1 others.

Marion TurnerRefugee Tales is particularly interesting because it combines literature and activism. It shows a really idiosyncratic take on the Canterbury Tales. This group of people have recreated the Canterbury pilgrimage, and walked through the land as a group of refugees and writers. Recent refugees told their stories, and for each refugee, a writer then wrote up a version of that story. (Source)

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The Decameron

The Decameron (c.1351) is an entertaining series of one hundred stories written in the wake of the Black Death. The stories are told in a country villa outside the city of Florence by ten young noble men and women who are seeking to escape the ravages of the plague. Boccaccio's skill as a dramatist is masterfully displayed in these vivid portraits of people from all stations in life, with plots that revel in a bewildering variety of human reactions.

Translated with an Introduction and Notes by G. H. McWilliam
Recommended by Marion Turner, Jenny Davidson, and 2 others.

Marion TurnerThe Decameron specifically is a story about ten people who decide to escape the plague by going to a lovely country house with their servants. They tell stories there: ten stories a day for ten days, so there are 100 stories. The stories tend to be very, very funny. A lot of them are very rude. (Source)

Jenny DavidsonThe premise of the book is that a group of young noblemen and -women, people of great privilege who have been able to flee the plague-ridden city, are telling each other stories to while away their time together in the luxurious villa to which they’ve retreated. The description of the plague in the frame narrative is very vivid and quite horrifying; it sets a dark tone. (Source)

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Dream Visions and Other Poems

Contexts connects the poems to their classical and medieval foundations and includes works by Virgil, Ovid, Cicero, Boethius, Dante, and Boccaccio, among others From the wealth of scholarly work available, the editor has chosen for Criticism six essays that address the poems central themes. Contributors include Charles Muscatine, A. C. Spearing, R. T. Lenaghan, Richard Firth Green, Elaine Tuttle Hansen, and Steven Kruger A Chronology and Selected Bibliography are also included. " less
Recommended by Marion Turner, and 1 others.

Marion TurnerHouse of Fame is in fact my favourite Chaucerian text. It’s a crazy text. It’s unfinished—or seemingly unfinished. It’s a dream vision. It’s also the poem of Chaucer’s that seems to be the most autobiographical—though ‘seems’ is an important word there. The main character is called Geoffrey: he’s a writer, works as an accountant (as Chaucer did in the Customs Office), and then goes home at night... (Source)

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The Canterbury Tales

The procession that crosses Chaucer's pages is as full of life and as richly textured as a medieval tapestry. The Knight, the Miller, the Friar, the Squire, the Prioress, the Wife of Bath, and others who make up the cast of characters -- including Chaucer himself -- are real people, with human emotions and weaknesses. When it is remembered that Chaucer wrote in English at a time when Latin was the standard literary language across western Europe, the magnitude of his achievement is even more remarkable. But Chaucer's genius needs no historical introduction; it bursts forth from every page...

Recommended by Marion Turner, and 1 others.

Marion TurnerEach individual tale can be interpreted in so many ways—Chaucer really opens up possibilities of multiple interpretations. Even when he seems to give you a clear moral, that moral is never effective or convincing. He’s always saying: ‘Find your own moral; find your own meaning.’ (Source)

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