This introduction to the "Canterbury Tales" for students is accessible to first time readers of Chaucer and is also a significant critical study in its own right. It gives full separate readings of each tale, together with clear expositions of the historical and literary backgrounds. Using modern theoretical perspectives, the book focuses particularly on gender, political and narratological approaches. The humour in the Tales and Chaucer's gifts for story telling and dialogue are rooted in an extraordinary perceptiveness about timeless subjects such as human vanity, class consciousness, snobbery, rivalry, robust honesty and self-sacrificing love. This book provides both a clear guide to all aspects of the "Canterbury Tales" and insight into why it continues to be of importance to modern readers.