A Dream Vision for Our Time

BBC Radio 4

Chaucer’s witty and surreal medieval ‘dream vision’ poems deal with the philosophical, political social crises of his time. Written in the era of the Black Death, famine and extreme social upheaval, perhaps unsurprisingly these escapist allegories were among the most popular genres of the middle ages. But they also remain witty and relevant satires on political and cultural life.

Chaucer wrote four Dream Vision poems : Parliament of Fowls, Book of the Duchess, the Legend of Good Women, and House of Fame. They’ve been overlooked in favour of the better known Canterbury Tales, but scholars and poets are starting to draw again on their style and themes, and with good reason.

Writer Henry Elliot explores how these poems tap right into contemporary culture – across the centuries:

Producer: Jo Wheeler

Broadcast Date: 20th January 2019