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    What if Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales came out today?

    James Folta

    April 17, 2024, 11:41am

    Today is the anniversary of Geoffrey Chaucer’s first reading of  The Canterbury Tales in 1387, when he performed the epic at the court of King Richard II. It’s the perfect day to reread a tale or two, rewatch A Knight’s Tale with Paul Bettany as Chaucer, or wonder what it would be like if The Canterbury Tales came out today, instead of 600 years ago.

    Chaucer reads the first draft at King Richard II’s Court, a very hip reading series hosted by the King to showcase up-and-coming writers and jesters. Photos of the reading flood social media, as do stories of the killer afterparty.


    Chaucer is interviewed in The Paris Review for The Art of the Tales No. 1. He talks about growing up as a London kid, his travels abroad, and responds to accusations that he was a “nepo-page” and was only apprenticed to a Countess because of his dad.


    BookTokers become obsessed with reciting Chaucer’s spicy passages, and Prank TikTokers start “Miller’s Tale-ing” each other.


    The film rights to The Canterbury Tales are sold for an enormous sum to a movie studio hoping to spin the Tales into a new Marvel Cinematic Universe. But the CTU fails to get off the ground due to bizarre choices: the CGI fight between the Summoner and the demon in “The Friar’s Tale” is widely mocked, and the insertion of a wise-cracking roommate named Dale in “The Franklin’s Tale” doesn’t make any sense. But the studio makes some money back on merch: Wife of Bath Halloween costumes are extremely popular with kids.


    Chaucer’s episode of Marc Maron’s podcast is the shortest in the show’s history because he’s so allergic to Marc’s cats that they have to stop recording. Chaucer’s appearance on Smartless goes better, but he keeps getting steamrolled by Will Arnett’s riffing.


    Chaucer drops in at a comedy club late at night to work out some new Tales. The crowd goes wild when he walks out, and some audience members post videos of him reciting a draft called “The Influencer’s Tale.” After this, Chaucer starts using Yondr bags to lock up audience members’ phones.


    “The Cook’s Tale” and its star become the focus of a SantaCon-style pub crawl where people skip work to roam around drinking. Everyone hates bumping into the “Perkin Revellers.”


    The Canterbury Tales’ book tour becomes the hot literary event, and up-and-coming writers vie for a slot opening for Chaucer. Fans post set lists online and speculate over which tales Geoffrey’s going to read in which city. The shows are always 5+ hours long.


    Chaucer gets into a bunch of Twitter beefs after people start dunk-tweeting on his prose:

    “And smale foweles maken melodye,/That slepen al the nyght with open ye” ??? wtf is this bro

    I’ll say it: Ch**cer ruined the epic poem and I can’t believe people are sharing his stuff around like it’s good?

    canterbury tales? more like cant write, bury these tales


    A minor lit scandal breaks out when someone discovers that Chaucer has a bunch of fake Twitter accounts he uses to yell at critics and share “You Gotta Stop Dripped Out Geoffrey Chaucer” memes.

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