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Have You Been Framed?
Not to worry you or anything, but I teach literature. And I’ve gotta say, when I consider the popularity of the TV show Lost and think “Everything old is new again,” I’m not just comparing it to 1964’s Gilligan’s Island.
I’m thinking more along the lines of some fourteenth-century classics.
See, Lost is an example of a “frame story.” It’s a narrative that presents a whole series of short tales, often with different tellers, wrapped in the “frame” of one large, extended story. One of the most famous is Boccaccio’s Decameron, a fourteenth-century Italian work in which ten young nobles flee the plague-ridden city of Florence for the safety of the country. There, they distract themselves by telling ten tales a day for ten days. (All those tens would be the “Deca” part of the title.) But the frame story you’re most likely to recognize, possibly by suffering through it in high-school or college English, is Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, of the same century.
Yes, that Canterbury Tales.
I beg you, put aside any lingering resentment you may still have over being forced to memorize and recite the prologue in its original Middle English. I don’t make my students do that (except occasionally for extra credit, and only if they want to). Try to think past the hard-to-read part of Chaucer, past the forced-to-do-it part of Chaucer, to the actual story. That’s the part I’m pretty sure Geoffrey Chaucer would have wanted you to notice, anyway. In Canterbury Tales, a group …
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