Chaucer FYI - 5 The Cook's Tale

"Ahah! Hahahah! Hahaha! Haha. Whoo. Ha. Well, anyway, I guess you had to be there."

The above should be the last line of The Cook's Tale. Poor little Rodger, he didn't even get a "here ends the Cook's tale" from Chaucer - just the deafening sounds of crickets and the shuffled feet and jangling reins of a confused and underwhelmed audience of pilgrims and readers.

FYI, I love The Cook's Tale.

When I'm talking to people who haven't read this tale I sum it up for them with the following explanation:

"Once upon a time there were whores somewhere." If I have time after that, I may say "and a guy who played dice and stole from his boss. Oh yeah, and whores! I told you about the whores right?"

I know that there's only one whore in The Cook's Tale, and it's more about Perkin the Reveler, but that's no fun. And really, it's more about Rodger the Cook who totally missed the point of the Reeve's tale, and who missed the day in medieval grade school when the plague-ridden teacher explained what elements are required to complete a story before passing out and infecting a third of the class.

But I digress.

There are some critics who argue that The Cook's Tale is unfinished. I, personally, would argue that the tale is complete but that the Cook is a few fries short of a happy meal. Rodger may believe that he's totally done - he's told an amusing story about a funny character and he's just rolling along, keeping up with the other pilgrims - and good for him! Better for Chaucer, actually; including an idiot character early in the collection keeps things light - especially as a follow-up to the creepy feeling that accompanies the rapes in The Reeve's Tale.

I don't have a lot to say beyond that, which shouldn't surprise anybody after reading a tale that, including the prologue, is only 97 lines long. There's not an awful lot of material to examine in this sort of venue.

I'm sure if I were trying to be dry and professional, a good little college student, I could try to force a fifteen page paper in this space discussing all the serious issues at hand in The Cook's Tale, and maybe someday I will just to be snarky, but right now I'm just basking in the fact that Chaucer did a great job of pointing out that there always have been and always will be idiots in this world.

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