One of the books I genuinely fell in love with whilst studying literature at school was Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, the story of a group of pilgrims en route to Canterbury Cathedral and the tomb of Saint Thomas Becket, and the tales they tell one another in order to pass the time on their journey.
Now, courtesy of Desideria Stockton and Royce Sommer, Second Life residents can go on a pilgrimage of their own and enjoy an introduction to the Canterbury Tales and the life and times of Geoffrey Chaucer through their Canterbury Tales Virtual Pilgrimage.
A part of the non-profit Literature Alive! project run by Desideria and Royce, Canterbury Tales Virtual Pilgrimage is a modest, but engrossing activity using point-and-click to inform people about Chaucer, the society of his day, religious views, science, justice, the social classes and so on. Most of this can be obtained within the walls of the Tabard Inn, where in the book, the teller of the best tale will be rewarded with a free meal. It is also at the Inn that one can learn something of Thomas Becket, the 12th Century Archbishop of Canterbury, the reason for the pilgrims’ journey.
It is in the tavern that the Prologue to The Canterbury Tales can be read (in Middle English, if you like!), which acts as a good lead-in to the rest of the activity. Scattered around the grounds of the Inn are 12 wooden crosses, each one with its own treasure chest nearby. Touch the cross, and you’ll receive a synopsis of one of the Tales. Then, touch the chest if you like, and correctly answer the question it asks about the tale you’ve just read, and you can gain a little prize.
While it may sound simple, Canterbury Tales Virtual Pilgrimage is a great introduction to Chaucer’s book, the synopsis of each tale perfectly capturing its essence and, where appropriate, its humour – many of Chaucer’s pilgrims were a bawdy lot! I confess to experiencing a flashback to classroom sniggering in reading the outline of The Millers Tale, the humour is so well captured. Also, the mix of tales presented through the virtual pilgrimage captures some of Chaucer’s ironic finger poking at the social strata of his day.
This is the first of two new projects under the Literature Alive! banner, and I admit to enjoying my meandering through the tall grass of a summer’s field and reading the synopses. Their second is set to be The House of Usher at the SL12B Community Celebration, and I’ll be keeping an eye out for it!
- Canterbury Tales Virtual Pilgrimage (Rated: Moderate)