Friday, July 17, 2015

Reminiscing II

The is the second of three "exercises" I did in the 1980s just to let off steam. The first was fictional. This one is really a record of how I felt. The book about the Host, that I talk about, wasn't published until 1998--after a long search for a publisher.

Dear Geoffrey Chaucer,
I hope you don't mind my using a comma instead of a colon. I feel I know you well enough for a comma. Try not to think me forward.
     I have read most of your works and find you the most fascinating author I've known. Other authors are entertaining, paint great pictures, introduce interesting characters, have clever story lines--but you do all these things and so much more. The depth, the complexity I felt almost from the first moment was a strange and new experience. It remains to this day the most stimulating intellectual experience of my life. [And in 2015, I still feel the same way.]
     I am sorry to admit that I have so much difficulty explaining what I see to others. But I guess that is as it should be. Your genius put it together. It should be very difficult to take all the pieces apart one at a time and still be able to have someone recognize all these bits and pieces as your work of art.
     I'll keep trying. I so want someone else to enjoy what I see. Do you suppose if I give them a pretty good outline, over all description, analysis--whatever--that others will be able to continue, enlarge, discover the things remaining that I don't mention or haven't seen myself? I sure hope so. For one reason, because I can't do the whole job--I don't have the time [I was almost 60], nor do I have training in all the fields that you knew. (What, in your world, did you not know?) Was there anything that did not interest you? Was there any area of life of which you were totally ignorant? I doubt there were any.
     That's one of the most amazing things--but, if I think about it, why shouldn't it be? Each person today knows about many things in many areas of life. The remarkable thing about you is that you seemed to fit the whole world into your writing. I have trouble just trying to organize the proper details, sufficient background, adequate description. I seem to have to labor over a simple scene, work it over and over just to get minimal interest into it. Did you work and rework your verses? I don't see how you could have had time.
     I'm quite sure that you have three layers of a story line running through the CT. I'm so anxious to finish the book about the Host, and the book about Pilgrim Chaucer and the Host, so I can work on the pilgrims. You must have been spellbound by your own ideas. How amazing! How all the little pieces fit together--it overwhelms me thinking of it. Did you have a chart to keep it all straight? Or was you memory so powerful (photographic memory before photographs?) that it all stayed in order and emerged as you needed it?
     I have to say that I don't intend to just rush through the Host book to get it finished. I plan to do as good a job as I possibly can. (Pray for me.) What is it I'm really trying to express? Let me see . . . I am anxious for others to know what I know so they can be even more amazed with your writing. And I am anxious to know more and more myself. And you don't go on to the next task before you finish with the first. So, in the end, what I am feeling is the excitement in store when I start to learn more about the pilgrims. But I just want everything NOW.   :)
     I'm sure there is a pattern in the pilgrim descriptions, but chances are it is not a simple and consistent pattern. Perhaps there is one pattern for the constellations, and another for the planets--that makes a lot of sense because you'd want to point out particular stars as an identifying clue and I already know you did that in several places.--You see, there I go getting carried away when I have two long jobs to do before I get to sort out all those wonderful gems you left for us. It truly overwhelms me to know that I understand--even though I don't have all the information I need yet.
     Anything you can do to help me, I would really appreciate. I really want to do a good job. I want people to get excited about your writing. And I want them to have a new interest in the Middle Ages. I'm sure there is so much there, just waiting to be discovered. You knew it, many writers knew it. It's time to let the secrets out.
 Respectfully yours,
Dolores Cullen


  1. It is delightful reading this letter to Chaucer, especially as I am now reading your "Chaucer's Host" for the 2nd time. So happy to know that many of your hopes have been realized for Master Chaucer. And there is more good to come!

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