Chaucerís most famous work, the Canterbury Tales (written in the late 1380s), is a collection of stories of various kinds derived mainly from Italian and other European sources drawn together by the notion of a pilgrimage. In the Middle Ages it was not uncommon for people of different social classes to join together as pilgrims as they would not elsewhere in life. So we hear firstly the narratorís description of most of the group in a satirical and often extremely amusing manner, in the General Prologue. Secondly we hear pilgrims tell stories to each other in an appropriate style for their characters after they have offered their own unique prologues (the Wife of Bathís is particularly interesting and shows an almost proto-feminist attitude). Usually the tales are popular or well known stories to which Chaucer adds or removes details to suit his purpose. There is a great mixture of serious and comical, sacred and profane here though it should be noted that the writer added a retraction at the end of his (in fact incomplete) Tales to reduce the chance of vengeance from God. This seems wise after the images of hot pokers going where hot pokers should certainly not go and other lewdness in "The Millerís Tale" and elsewhere. The language is very different to our own in the sense that it has more French roots that English has now lost so it is advisable to think of the lines as being spoken with a French accent at the end of words and an Anglo-Saxon grit in their middles.