The title of this post is a quote from John Dryden, writing of Chaucer. While not everything Dryden wrote about G.C. was accurate, this is pretty close. When I teach Chaucer to my kids, I make a point of talking about his amazing range, the vast assortment of genres he tackles, whether in the Canterbury Tales or his larger corpus of work. If you’re using literature as a way of understanding people, then Chaucer is right up there with Shakespeare as a lens.
This vast range also marks one of my favorite parts of being an academic, the International Congress for Medieval Studies at Kalamazoo. I’ve written about it in the past, and attended on several occasions, but it’s hard to capture the kaleidoscopic vastness of the stuff under discussion each year. In a way, it’s like a real-world example of the all-encompassing work Northrop Frye described as an anatomy. I’m not going this year, but I regret it a little every year when I don’t go.
I also regret staying home when I read articles like this impressionistic take on Kalamazoo by Josephine Livingstone. Check it out, and maybe I’ll catch you up there some May afternoon.