His greatest if most incomplete achievement, The Canterbury Tales, is a consummation and celebration of all previous English literature. It's "general prologue," and twenty-four separate tales, cover every form from sermon to farce, from saint's life to animal fable, from heroic adventure to full-scale parody. It's twenty-eight characters (including Chaucer himself) furnish an assembly of fourteenth-century people in a medley of occupations and professions. The Divine Comedy has come to earth; The Romance of the Rose has been humanized.
Albion: The Origins of the English Imagination by Peter Ackroyd
(from chapter on Chaucer)