Friday, October 16, 2009

Monty Python: The Pensacola Connection

**This month, otherwise sane people are celebrating the 40th anniversary of Monty Python's first appearance on BBC, which launched them into the "comedy firmament," as Dave Itzkoff acutely notes in his review of last night's proceedings at New York's Zeigfeld Theater. There, a lucky audience saw the premier of the new documentary, "Monty Python: Almost the Truth," and had a chance to see Monty Python reunited on stage, answering questions from the audience in their usual irreverent style.

There is a Pensacola connection, of a somewhat attenuated nature, with Monty Python. After the comedians -- or whatever they are -- disbanded and went on with their individual lives, troupe member Terry Jones established himself as a highly respected scholar of medieval history.

Among other books, he was the inspiration and lead author of Who Murdered Chaucer?, an elegant and detailed analysis of Chaucer, the politically parlous times in which he lived, and the mystery of why he so abruptly disappears from the written record in 1402. In Jones' telling, you can blame it on the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Arundel, who seems to have played an evil Karl Rove to the Middle Ages' version of George Bush, Henry IV.

"Who Murdered Chaucer? is a great page-turner for mystery lovers as well as an edifying account of fourteenth century Britain, Chaucer, and medieval society.

The Pensacola connection? Co-author of "Who Murdered Chaucer?, and English language scholar, Robert Yeager is a professor at the University of West Florida and chairman of the English Department. He provided the truly superb translations (if that's the word) of Chaucer's Middle English to modern English.

Prof. Yeager's work not only adds scholarly heft to an already lively history, it includes some of the finest Caucerian translations we've had the privilege of reading. If you're a U.W.F. student, or an adult looking for a stimulating class or two to take, you can't do better than to take a class from Prof. Yeager.

We guarantee you will find it as engaging, if not quite as funny, as the younger Terry Jones' portrayal of the deservedly obscure Scottish "poet" Ewan McTeagle:

** (Embarrassing spelling error corrected)

1 comment:

Paula said...

I was lucky enough to attend his presentation at UWF and to have him sign my copy of his book. He was scholarly AND hilarious. I wish all my profs had been half as interesting.