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THE TALES: SUMMARIES AND NOTES
Chaucer addresses the readers and tells them to thank Christ if they find anything pleasurable in the book since He is the source of all wisdom and goodness. However if the readers find something that they do not like in the book, he begs them to ascribe the fault to his incompetence and not to his will. He proclaims that he has written with the intention of teaching.
He entreats the reader to pray for Godís mercy on him and asks forgiveness for the trespasses he has made especially his translations and writing of works dealing with worldly vanity. In this retraction he denounces Troilus and Cressida, The House of Fame, The Nineteen Ladies, The Book of the Duchess, The Parliament of Fowls, and also The Canterbury Tales which he believes are sinful. He also refers to The Book of the Lion and many other books which he now cannot remember. But he asks for Divine Grace for his translations of Boethius and other books of legends of the saints and prays for his soulís salvation.
In ĎRetracciounsí Chaucer renounces all his previous works apart from the Christian pieces. Scholars have been locked in a stormy debate over the significance of this final part of the text. Although it is a part of The Canterbury Tales it begs forgiveness for "the tales of Canterbury" --- those that deal with immorality. It is indeed puzzling why Chaucer wrote this retraction. Possibly the retraction could be merely conventional, or sincere, or ironic. It is also possible that it was not written by Chaucer and only added to the text at a later date.