The Prologue to the Canterbury Tales
Chaucer, Geoffrey, 1340?-1400.
The Prologue to the Canterbury Tales with Original Screen Images Designed by Ronald King.
Surrey, England: Circle Press, 1978.
Call Number: (BKRT)(FOL) PR 1868 .P8 K5x 1978
Special Collections, Golda Meir Library
This edition of Chaucer chooses The Prologue to represent the flavor of Chaucer's commentary on his own times and his fellow man. It is the second edition of the Circle Press rendition of Chaucer's Prologue, the first appearing in 1967. Ronald King seeks to present the humanistic side of Chaucer by tying together the "transcendence" of human nature and mankind. This composite of humankind then creates a rich and colorful society, illustrated here by King.
Kevin Power sums up the importance of The Prologue in the introduction to this volume by writing: "The Prologue is part of the missing story of ourselves, it shows how individuals can mesh into a complex social whole."
Power continues to describe King's illustrations:
Ron King's illustrations make no attempt to convey the psychological aspects of each pilgrim but deal with their function in society. He blends symbolism and medieval heraldry to give us the mask they wear. It's an intriguing idea to use the African mask since many of its rituals revolve around notions of social balance, of how a person can function both as an individual and as part of a tribal unit. Being a person is also being mystical, being endowed with a rightful thirst for the transcendence of human limitations. The masks set out to maintain the balance between the real and the transcendent. This indeed, was the aim of the strict hierarchies within Chaucer's own society.
This is a limited edition work of twenty series (I-XX) containing 250 copies each. This volume is in series XIII and includes an original signed silkscreen print.