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The Canterbury Tales (Best Navigation, Free AudioBook) ( A to Z Classics)

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With A to Z Classics, discover or rediscover all the classics of literature. Contains Active Table of Contents (HTML) and ​in the end of book include a bonus link to the free audiobook. One spring day, the Narrator of The Canterbury Tales rents a room at the Tabard Inn before he recommences his journey to Canterbury. That evening, a group of people arrive at the inn, all of With A to Z Classics, discover or rediscover all the classics of literature. Contains Active Table of Contents (HTML) and ​in the end of book include a bonus link to the free audiobook. One spring day, the Narrator of The Canterbury Tales rents a room at the Tabard Inn before he recommences his journey to Canterbury. That evening, a group of people arrive at the inn, all of whom are also going to Canterbury to receive the blessings of "the holy blissful martyr," St. Thomas à Becket. Calling themselves "pilgrims" because of their destination, they accept the Narrator into their company. The Narrator describes his newfound traveling companions.


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With A to Z Classics, discover or rediscover all the classics of literature. Contains Active Table of Contents (HTML) and ​in the end of book include a bonus link to the free audiobook. One spring day, the Narrator of The Canterbury Tales rents a room at the Tabard Inn before he recommences his journey to Canterbury. That evening, a group of people arrive at the inn, all of With A to Z Classics, discover or rediscover all the classics of literature. Contains Active Table of Contents (HTML) and ​in the end of book include a bonus link to the free audiobook. One spring day, the Narrator of The Canterbury Tales rents a room at the Tabard Inn before he recommences his journey to Canterbury. That evening, a group of people arrive at the inn, all of whom are also going to Canterbury to receive the blessings of "the holy blissful martyr," St. Thomas à Becket. Calling themselves "pilgrims" because of their destination, they accept the Narrator into their company. The Narrator describes his newfound traveling companions.

30 review for The Canterbury Tales (Best Navigation, Free AudioBook) ( A to Z Classics)

  1. 4 out of 5

    MJ Nicholls

    When confronted with the painful choice of whether or not to read Chaucer in the original Middle English, I agonised for precisely four seconds and decided to read Nevill Coghill’s modern translation in lovely Penguin paperback. In the same way I wouldn’t learn German to read Goethe, or unlearn English to read Dan Brown, I refuse to learn archaic forms of English for pointless swotty scholar-points, and grope instead for selfish readerly pleasure, two-fingering the purists and bunking down with When confronted with the painful choice of whether or not to read Chaucer in the original Middle English, I agonised for precisely four seconds and decided to read Nevill Coghill’s modern translation in lovely Penguin paperback. In the same way I wouldn’t learn German to read Goethe, or unlearn English to read Dan Brown, I refuse to learn archaic forms of English for pointless swotty scholar-points, and grope instead for selfish readerly pleasure, two-fingering the purists and bunking down with Mr. Nevill for nights of sumptuous moral homily, proto-feminist romantic comedy, and high courtly drama. For Chaucer neophytes like me, this text captures the bouncy humour and devilish cleverness of the original (not that I would know!), and hopefully will turn a generation of frightened and unenlightened readers on to this master of verse. (And if you must know, my rhyming homage review was lost due to a power failure and a more tempting invitation to eat pilaf rice with Brian. Street children! Wives of Bath! Go forth and Chaucerize!)

  2. 5 out of 5

    James

    Book Review It was 1996 and my freshmen year at college. I had already declared English as my major and needed to choose between Chaucer and Shakespeare as the primary "classic" author to take a course on. I chose Shakespeare. My advisor told me that's the usual pick and most missed out. I laughed at her. She was 40 years older than me and told me all the dirty stuff was in Chaucer... "Are you sure?" she asked. At that point, I realized life was just beginning. I was so naive back the Book Review It was 1996 and my freshmen year at college. I had already declared English as my major and needed to choose between Chaucer and Shakespeare as the primary "classic" author to take a course on. I chose Shakespeare. My advisor told me that's the usual pick and most missed out. I laughed at her. She was 40 years older than me and told me all the dirty stuff was in Chaucer... "Are you sure?" she asked. At that point, I realized life was just beginning. I was so naive back then. We clicked and bonded over my 4 years at school. I later realized she taught the class and that's why she always joked with her prospective students. I ended up taking both, and I am so glad I did. I adored Shakespeare, but until you've read all of Chaucer's work, you don't realize what a canon it is. From The Wife of Bath to The Squire, the satire, humor and innuendo are at an all-time high. No clue how he wasn't burned at the stake for all that he wrote about in the 14th century. Simply put, pilgrims are on a journey to/from Canterbury and tell their tales. It's woven so well together, you can't help but feel as though you're part of the ride. If I didn't have a backlog of over 1000 books in my TBR, I'd take on this tome again. It's lyrical, humorous and thought-provoking. It's nonsense, weird and crazy. But that's what makes it worth a read. If you have a copy, sample one of the stories. It'll be fantastic to hear everyone's opinions! About Me For those new to me or my reviews... here's the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you'll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I've visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jon Nakapalau

    Another - 'I am so glad to get this off my book bucket list' - book that was very hard for me to understand. The stories were often grounded in concepts that I think modern readers may have problems understanding, but I still recognize that this book is one of the great literary works of all time. I mark it a 'favorite' due to the fact that it is a 'key' to understanding other works of literature. I am sure this narrative form of story telling has influenced untold works of art.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Pink

    My biggest fear about this book was that it would be like The Pilgrim's Progress. Although they followed a similar format, they couldn't have been more different for me. The Pilgrim's Progress was boring and preachy, whereas this was delightfully bawdy. There are many translations, from Middle English, to Victorian verse, to modern day prose. So sample a few and read what you're comfortable with. Then dive in and enjoy the stories. They can be read independently of one another, but often play of My biggest fear about this book was that it would be like The Pilgrim's Progress. Although they followed a similar format, they couldn't have been more different for me. The Pilgrim's Progress was boring and preachy, whereas this was delightfully bawdy. There are many translations, from Middle English, to Victorian verse, to modern day prose. So sample a few and read what you're comfortable with. Then dive in and enjoy the stories. They can be read independently of one another, but often play off each other so they're best read in order, though this differs between editions. If you happen to hit one you don't like, feel free to skip it, as there'll be another riotous tale along soon enough. These can be read lightly, laughing at the rudeness and humour, or studied more in depth, to find hidden subtleties and meanings. It's the sort of book that re-reading will enrich your experience and it's one I'm glad to have tried for my first time. So don't be scared of stuffy or complex tales because it's 600 years old. Really, not that much has changed today.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    I'm gonna start texting in Chaucer's English. *declares war on abbreviation*

  6. 4 out of 5

    Manny

    A classic that has worn well... the psychology, in particular with regard to women, seems remarkably modern! It's funny, and not just in one style either. Sometimes he's subverting the popular cliches of the day, sometimes he's slyly campaigning for women's rights, and sometimes he's just having fun telling dirty jokes. I'm having trouble deciding which style I like most - they're all good, and often mixed up together too. I once spent a pleasant bus trip sitting next to a grad student who was do A classic that has worn well... the psychology, in particular with regard to women, seems remarkably modern! It's funny, and not just in one style either. Sometimes he's subverting the popular cliches of the day, sometimes he's slyly campaigning for women's rights, and sometimes he's just having fun telling dirty jokes. I'm having trouble deciding which style I like most - they're all good, and often mixed up together too. I once spent a pleasant bus trip sitting next to a grad student who was doing a dissertation on Chaucer. I asked her why it seemed in some ways so much more sophisticated than Shakespeare. Apparently the difference is that Shakespeare had to be suitable for the masses, but Chaucer was aimed pretty exclusively at court people, who could be given stronger stuff without having their morals corrupted. Or whatever double standard was being employed. It all sounded quite interesting. I read it in the original Middle English... speaking Swedish and French, I found it reasonably easy to understand, most of the words were similar to something I knew. It's really lovely language. __________________________________ To my considerable surprise, I have just learned that the good Geoffrey is still with us! He is very well-preserved considering his advanced age, and has even started a blog. Under "Favorite posts", I particularly recommend "Lynes of Pick-Up", "She's yonge, sexie & rich: interviewe wyth Parys" and "The Cipher of Leonardo". __________________________________ Stalker Week update: read The Merchant's Tale! Or if you can't be bothered, at least answer my Quiz question about it.

  7. 5 out of 5

    P.E.

    Well, that came out of the blue! I perused it, expecting some blend of quaint bits of Merry England, cloaked under some veil of Medieval lore, yet I had been confronted with something quite different! This comes out as an array of odd tales, dealing with peoples' shortcomings, cuckholding, cheating, ripping off and the likes! As a whole it stands out unprecedented, a fearsome match for almost any collection of modern or contemporary shorts stories I have read. For starters, each character has its s Well, that came out of the blue! I perused it, expecting some blend of quaint bits of Merry England, cloaked under some veil of Medieval lore, yet I had been confronted with something quite different! This comes out as an array of odd tales, dealing with peoples' shortcomings, cuckholding, cheating, ripping off and the likes! As a whole it stands out unprecedented, a fearsome match for almost any collection of modern or contemporary shorts stories I have read. For starters, each character has its selfsame tone, rich with personal features and quirks. Each tale bears its unicity to the whole, leaving you at a loss to decide what folk of the Canterbury Tales you like the most. Though plainly bored by the rare few ones set on mythological figures entirely, I will remember this work as a moveable feast! Matching Soundtrack : Gryphon album - Gryphon

  8. 5 out of 5

    Markus

    "It's that you each, to shorten the long journey, Shall tell two tales en route to Canterbury, And, coming homeward, another two, Stories of things that happened long ago. Whoever best acquits himself, and tells The most amusing and instructive tale, Shall have a dinner, paid by us all, Here in this roof, and under this roof-tree, When we come back again from Canterbury." One of the most legendary books from the Middle Ages, the Canterbury Tales is a wonderful collection of short stories about life in me "It's that you each, to shorten the long journey, Shall tell two tales en route to Canterbury, And, coming homeward, another two, Stories of things that happened long ago. Whoever best acquits himself, and tells The most amusing and instructive tale, Shall have a dinner, paid by us all, Here in this roof, and under this roof-tree, When we come back again from Canterbury." One of the most legendary books from the Middle Ages, the Canterbury Tales is a wonderful collection of short stories about life in medieval England. Chaucer’s world at the time of writing is one of plague, famine and war. The Hundred Years’ War had just come out of one of its most violent phases when the author penned these words. And yet the Canterbury Tales are filled with humour, lightness and parody. There is little of the dark, war-torn oppressed society that some might expect. Throughout the collection, Chaucer fills his pages with wit, exaggeration and an illustration of how medieval English society was outside the religious texts and formally written histories. That makes for rather interesting reading. The Canterbury Tales is far from the best book ever written. The language, despite sometimes being incomprehensible, is sometimes beautiful, but not something truly outstanding. The tales themselves are far from perfect, and the characters are a mixed bunch, both in morality, complexity and pure quality. Nevertheless, this is a classic for a reason, and that reason isn’t only that the book through a twist of fate actually has survived down the centuries. It provides a fun and light-hearted insight into the English Middle Ages, and it’s been inspiring European culture for centuries.

  9. 5 out of 5

    LENA TRAK

    This masterpiece was written over 600 years ago but I am positive that if you decide to pick it up you will find the stories most interesting! My favourite tale was The Pardoner's Tale. I always enjoy a story in which greedy, vicious people get what they deserve. I had tried reading Chaucer at university but Middle English was an obstacle I was not able to overcome. So this time I played safely and opted for this one in modern English .. And I enjoyed it so much!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Brian Levinson

    Look out, Bocaccio -- there's a new author of clever, bawdy rhyming tales, and his name is Geoffrey Chaucer! Whether you're a reeve, abbot, or just a simple canon's yeoman, you're sure to find something delightful in this witty, incisive collection. My personal favorites were the one about Chaunticleer the rooster and the one where the dude gets a red-hot poker shoved up his butt. I read it while I was laid up with the plague, and Chaucer's insouciant descriptions and intricate plotting helped i Look out, Bocaccio -- there's a new author of clever, bawdy rhyming tales, and his name is Geoffrey Chaucer! Whether you're a reeve, abbot, or just a simple canon's yeoman, you're sure to find something delightful in this witty, incisive collection. My personal favorites were the one about Chaunticleer the rooster and the one where the dude gets a red-hot poker shoved up his butt. I read it while I was laid up with the plague, and Chaucer's insouciant descriptions and intricate plotting helped immeasurably in my recuperation. The frequent bloodlettings prescribed by my barber-surgeon helped, too. Quick note: If you're illiterate, like nine-tenths of the population, this might not be the book for you.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jan-Maat

    I first read the Coghill translation. Then I struggled through the original text, slowly at first enjoying the colour and richness of the original language, then reading it again and again, enjoying more each time. If you have a little French or German from school and can be flexible enough to understand that 'sonne' is 'sun', then give it a go. Once you're comfortable with it the language becomes a rich pleasure of it's own. The shift from modern to middle English might be daunting, but I feel i I first read the Coghill translation. Then I struggled through the original text, slowly at first enjoying the colour and richness of the original language, then reading it again and again, enjoying more each time. If you have a little French or German from school and can be flexible enough to understand that 'sonne' is 'sun', then give it a go. Once you're comfortable with it the language becomes a rich pleasure of it's own. The shift from modern to middle English might be daunting, but I feel it is also one of the attractions and delights of the original text. It's become a book that I like to return to and reread. There's lots to enjoy, the variety of stories and the different styles they are told in, the different regional voices (that are different to those we hear in William Langland or in Gawaine) and Chaucer's interpretation of stories from Boccaccio. Langland's Piers Plowman has the power of a sustained allegorical vision while Chaucer offers a bizarrely over ambitious programme, we are told in the general prologue that all the pilgrims will tell two stories each on the way to Canterbury and two on the way back, a modern complete edition isn't a slim book and even so not all the pilgrims even get to tell one story. Each story is of a different type: chivalric romance,moral fable, bawdy story, animal fable and so on told by a different pilgrim who has a distinct social status and character, a nun, an innkeeper, a knight, an alchemist assistant, so incomplete as it is, abandoned at the point of death or due to the demands of everyday life the poem offers tremendous variety - something for everyreader.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Kyriakos Sorokkou

    WHAN that Aprille with his schowres swoote The drought of Marche hath perced to the roote, And bathud every veyne in suich licour, Of which vertue engendred is the flour: What is The Canterbury Tales It is the month of April, nature is fertile, the time when people fall in love, travel, and go on pilgrimages. Chaucer decided to go on a pilgrimage and he encountered in Tabard Inn 29 other people that were also going on a pilgrimage to Canterbury to visit the shrine of St Thomas Becket who was murdere WHAN that Aprille with his schowres swoote The drought of Marche hath perced to the roote, And bathud every veyne in suich licour, Of which vertue engendred is the flour: What is The Canterbury Tales It is the month of April, nature is fertile, the time when people fall in love, travel, and go on pilgrimages. Chaucer decided to go on a pilgrimage and he encountered in Tabard Inn 29 other people that were also going on a pilgrimage to Canterbury to visit the shrine of St Thomas Becket who was murdered inside the Canterbury Cathedral in 1170. T. S. Eliot's play Murder in the Cathedral is about his murder. The host (innkeeper) says that since the journey from London to Canterbury will be a long one in order to kill boredom they should say 4 stories each: 2 on their way to Canterbury and 2 on their way from Canterbury back to London. And the one who tells the best tale will win a free meal. That means 30 people x 4 stories each = 120 stories. But what we have is 24 stories running over 17000 lines and over 700 pages. Imagine how longer this piece of work would have been if in the end Chaucer had managed to complete it. At least 3000 pages. On the one hand I'm happy because it would have taken me 3 months to finish it, but on the other hand it's sad that this great piece of work is incomplete. The inspiration for this poem is obvious; The Decameron written by Giovanni Boccaccio 3-4 decades before The Canterbury Tales. Some say that Chaucer met Boccaccio in Italy and/or read the Decameron since many stories are more than similar and both works end with an apology. Both works also, became part of a trilogy by Pier Paolo Pasolini along with The Arabian Nights The end of the Canterbury Tales is a sort of apology where Chaucer renounces the Tales and many of his previous works for the vulgar parts in these works and asking for forgiveness from Christ. An apology I feel he had to make in order to escape death or persecution (?) #religiousterror I don't agree with him. Your works are great! Keep writing. Oh wait. . . The Language The language is Middle English; the 2nd stage of the development of the English language after the first which is Old English (Beowulf) and before the 3rd which is Early Modern English (Shakespeare). The 4th stage is the English we use today. Even though I was reading this book in glossed Middle English with a lot of footnotes, as the time went by I got used to it and it became easier to read, much easier than Joyce's Ulysses I'm honest on this, trust me. And of course I learnt many 'new' words while reading this work: swyve=fuck wight=person queynte=cunt eek = also woot=knew It is through his work that over 2000 English words were first attested in written manuscripts such as (mercenary, shelf, moral, award, vomit, and many more) My Experience At the beginning I was scared because this is a) a long book and b) a long book written in Middle English. But as I said I got used to it and enjoyed it with one exception, The Parson's Tale, which wasn't a tale at all but a religious rant err... sermon on the seven deadly sins(with their many sub-branches) and really complex ways of how to repent, and when &c. Many stories where written as fabliaux (comic farces usually including sexual and scatological obsenities): The Miller's Tale, The Reeve's Tale, The Cook's Tale, The Merchant's Tale Some where chivalric romances: The Knight's Tale, The Squire's Tale Some where animal fables: The Nun's Priest's Tale But let me stop here because this list won't end soon. . . So, do I recommend this book. No, for many reasons: a) It's poetry, and not many people read poetry let alone a 'poem' that runs around 700 pages b) It's in Middle English so reading in Modern English or any other language will diminish the experience, unless you read it in Middle English which is tough for those who don't have a good level in English. c) It's long and needs time to be read. BUT, that being said, it certainly is a worthy piece of literature, written by the father of English Literature, Geoffrey Chaucer, and when you'll finish it you will feel that you crossed off one more thing from your bucket list.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Piyangie

    The Canterbury Tales is a collection of twenty-four tales which is set as tales told by a group of pilgrims on their way to Canterbury Cathedral in Kent from Southwark Cathedral in London to pay homage to the shrine of Saint Thomas Beckett. The group includes Chaucer as a pilgrim and he narrates the stories told by other pilgrims including the two tales told by him on the journey. The story-tellers represent different classes in the English society of the time. Through them, Chaucer has painted The Canterbury Tales is a collection of twenty-four tales which is set as tales told by a group of pilgrims on their way to Canterbury Cathedral in Kent from Southwark Cathedral in London to pay homage to the shrine of Saint Thomas Beckett. The group includes Chaucer as a pilgrim and he narrates the stories told by other pilgrims including the two tales told by him on the journey. The story-tellers represent different classes in the English society of the time. Through them, Chaucer has painted a faithful picture of the lives, attitudes, and morals of various social classes and types of people of medieval England. Chaucer had been a civil servant and has been in the King's service as the controller of customs, justice of the peace and clerk of King's work. These government positions must have brought him in direct touch with the commoners of different classes which later influenced him on his tales. The tales were written in Middle English which was the language of the Anglo-Saxon laypeople. The language of authority and nobility at the time (following Norman Conquest) was French and the scholarly language was Latin. In such a setting, Chaucer chose Middle English to write his tales. It may be that he wanted his stories to reach the common public, or it also may be that he wanted to promote the commoner's language. The tales touch on the themes of marital relationships, adultery, chivalry, greed, morals, and religion. Chaucer is ironic and critical on these themes, but at times, his irony was lost on me. The writing is witty and humorous for the most part, but surprisingly, I also found it to be lewd. By modern standards, most of the tales are gross and offensive. But I learned that medieval England culture was relatively course in comparison with today. (That was a relief! Also made me want to revisit Voltaire's Candide). Most of the tales were fun to read (despite few boring ones), and there were some tales I enjoyed very much, like Knight's Tale (which is my favourite out of all), The Clerk's Tale, The Merchant's Tale, The Shipman's Tale, The Franklin's Tale and the Wife of Bath's Tale . Overall, however, the collection fell short of my expectations.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Alan

    English literature is downhill from Chaucer. Even as a Shakespeare scholar, I would argue this, since there are several characters in Chaucer who are as if live: The Wif of Bath, the Pardoner, the Host, the Canon's Yeoman, and a half dozen others, at least. Shakespeare's characters, on the other hand, are all stagey, bigger than life, infused with the stage. Or so it seems to me. Chaucer's Wif even makes colloquial grammar mistakes when she self-consciously describes what men like about women's English literature is downhill from Chaucer. Even as a Shakespeare scholar, I would argue this, since there are several characters in Chaucer who are as if live: The Wif of Bath, the Pardoner, the Host, the Canon's Yeoman, and a half dozen others, at least. Shakespeare's characters, on the other hand, are all stagey, bigger than life, infused with the stage. Or so it seems to me. Chaucer's Wif even makes colloquial grammar mistakes when she self-consciously describes what men like about women's bodies, such as "hire [their] armes smalle." (I infer that the Wif's arms may not be small, typically a self-critical woman.) Various characters display their human failings just like someone you meet in a bar, or at a family picnic: the Miller, in his prolog, "That I am drunke, I know it by my soun," then philosophizes, "An housband shall not been inquisitif/ Of goddes privite, nor of his wife." One of the best heroic couplets in all of English lit. Another philosopher is cut down to size by the Host; when Osewold the Reeve begs off telling a tale, "But ik am oold, me list not play for age," the Host replies,"What shul we speke alday of hooly writ?/ The devel made a reve for to preche." Chaucer is outright, laugh-aloud funny, even in describing himself. The Host remarks how Chaucer as a pilgrim is staring at the ground while riding (shy?) and that he has a pot-belly like the Host himself. Chaucer gives himself the worst of the CT; he tells a memorized tale, which the Host interrupts as he would now interrupt rap, "This may we be rym doggerel"--this is doggerel! As for Chaucer's superiority to all of English lit that follows, I would argue the same for Erasmus and H.S. education: Erasmus's Colloquiae, especially his Adulescens et Scortum, puts modern education books to shame. He wrote it for adolescent males, to teach them Latin, and it does this with a discussion between a young prostitute and her friend, a (High School-age) boy who's just been to Rome and reformed. She, "most men who go to Rome get worse." He, "no, no I read this pious author." "Who?" "Erasmus..." She, "Erasmus! I heard he is an arch-heretic..." He, "Who'd you hear that from." She, "Oh, one of my clients...a priest." Admonition: Both Chaucer and Erasmus write essentially in a foreign language, the Middle English of 1390 being much closer to French--which in fact was used in Courts of Law in England for yet another century. Its traces remain: "defendant, attorney, assizes, voir dire," etc.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    Read for my English 201 class in university. I recall how many upperclassmen warned me how terrible Chaucer was going to be. I never admitted it at the time, but I really enjoyed it.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Aubrey

    Right so bitwixe a titlelees tiraunt And an outlaw or a theef erraunt, The same I seye: ther is no difference. To Alisaundre was toold this sentence, That, for the tirant is of gretter myght By force of meynee for to sleen dounright, And brennen hous and hoom, and make al playn, Lo, therfore is he cleped a capitayn; And for the outlawe hath but smal meynee, And may not doon so greet an harm as he, Ne brynge a contree to so greet mescheef, Men clepen hym an outlawe or a theef. If one ever took a look at Right so bitwixe a titlelees tiraunt And an outlaw or a theef erraunt, The same I seye: ther is no difference. To Alisaundre was toold this sentence, That, for the tirant is of gretter myght By force of meynee for to sleen dounright, And brennen hous and hoom, and make al playn, Lo, therfore is he cleped a capitayn; And for the outlawe hath but smal meynee, And may not doon so greet an harm as he, Ne brynge a contree to so greet mescheef, Men clepen hym an outlawe or a theef. If one ever took a look at my disaster of a degree progress report and skimmed down to the very bottom, they'd find the ten upper division English course I took/am taking in order to finally get my BA. What experimental woman's lit, postcolonial short stories, Milton, and the seven various others have in common is an adamant refusal to partake in the 1900s/American/20th century fill in the blanks that gestures at a general education and enacts little more than a cold and miserable hierarchy. In this brave new modernity of mine, what I am utterly sick of is the pretense pilled on pretense of This Is How It Is and This Is How It Has Always Been and This Is How It Will Always Be that chokes every field with the White Male Name. If you would claim science exempt, give up Newton and go back to the Golden Age of Islam and even further beyond to Greek-termed Persia and first-university South Asia and Morocco. I take a similar path through literature, as what's the use of an increasing glut of literature since the European colonial gaze unfolded if one insists that on the increasingly straight and narrow? The benefit of this is, the more you go back to that Middle English and that Old English and blood and bone not caught up in the people dead for centuries before one corner of the world thought to start calling them "white", the more it all starts to all fall apart. My interest lies in sharp edges of things that common sense would decry as nonexistent. Here, there be monsters. I used two editions of The Canterbury Tales for this university class. One came from sophomore year of high school, brought out again briefly for community college and, after this most recent stint, irretrievably marked up with notes and smudges and emoticons. The other's a library copy of what the school insists on charging three figures for, decent enough in the holistic sense but certainly not enough to justify that facet of the socioeconomic war on education. With each assigned section, I read the latter's Middle English first and the former's verse translation second, and if anyone tries to tell you that you must commit to the untranslated version in order to "really" have "read" The Canterbury Tales, laugh at them for me. It's that elitism and the "translated" version's elitism and every other branch of elitism other the sun that's ruining this admirable and hilarious and terrifying and gloriously informative text for everyone who's native language is not the monstrosity of French and Latin and German that's been masquerading as its own thing for little more than a millennium, not "the times". Seriously, what the fuck are "the times". If it means what I think it means, I'll trust that each and every elitist can wipe the floor with me when it comes to all ecclesiastical and narratological and cross-cultural frameworks caught up in this ridiculously unfinished work. If they do worse than me and my newfangled ideas about readers reading however they can, what's the point? What are The Canterbury Tales? They're a riddle. They're a hoot. They're powerful in their pictures of morality and dynamic in their interest in the marrow of things, what makes a Pardoner and what makes a Monk and how all of this may have sent us all to burn in hell if the Wife of Bath didn't really know her stuff. There are all the things the Church tells you and the men tell you and the satirists tell you, and then there are all the things that exist in texts inside and outside the lingo (English at this time was the slang of hicks and street urchins, and if you can't appreciate that you're going to have a hell of a time understanding what Chaucer was accomplishing. Not surpassing, mind you. That would've meant a pretentious forgetting of roots and no English as we know it for us) whose lack of copyright is less interesting than the Thousand and One Nights overtly trickling in from god knows where. There's faith, there's beauty, there're the ancient trails of antisemitism and Islamophobia that contemporary critics would do well to break out of their blinkered post-1980's state and analyze, and then there's the fact that Chaucer was a literal child of the Black Death. He'll play and play and question and question, savvy enough to both side-eye the misogynists and transition between the Shakespeare plays of Richard II and Henry IV, and then, at the end of it all, sink into the fear and doubt that we really all the pilgrims of his pre-Canterbury Knight's Tale, wandering in a world of woe. Life back then had its brilliance, barring the pall of the forthcoming Renaissance, but so did undrugged, unmedicated, unyielding death. I threw four figures of tuition at this work in order to get the eleven weeks and 50+ pages of notes necessary for my current level of appreciation, so if anyone can manage a tenth as much without that amount of monetary impetus, they're doing just fine. Don't bother with this if looking at it makes you feel pressured or frustrated in any sense of the word. I can tell you for a fact Chaucer would have watched the elitists carefully and made blowhard Friars out of them all. There's nothing he liked worse than the learned who refused to teach. Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote, The droghte of March hath perced to the roote, And bathed every veyne in swich licóur Of which vertú engendred is the flour; Whan Zephirus eek with his swete breeth Inspired hath in every holt and heeth The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne Hath in the Ram his halfe cours y-ronne, And smale foweles maken melodye, That slepen al the nyght with open ye, So priketh hem Natúre in hir corages, Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages, And palmeres for to seken straunge strondes, To ferne halwes, kowthe in sondry londes; And specially, from every shires ende Of Engelond, to Caunterbury they wende, The hooly blisful martir for to seke, That hem hath holpen whan that they were seeke.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jonfaith

    A wife destroys her husband and contrives, As husbands know, the ruin of their lives Much as the theme of estrangement dominates a thread of traditional songs, (see Wayfaring Stranger, Motherless Child etc) much of early Modern literature appears concerned with faithless brides and the looming spectre of cuckoldry. It is possible that I am full of shit in tall weeds, but that said, I do think that there is a link between the themes (alienation and infidelity) and that both are understood in terms A wife destroys her husband and contrives, As husbands know, the ruin of their lives Much as the theme of estrangement dominates a thread of traditional songs, (see Wayfaring Stranger, Motherless Child etc) much of early Modern literature appears concerned with faithless brides and the looming spectre of cuckoldry. It is possible that I am full of shit in tall weeds, but that said, I do think that there is a link between the themes (alienation and infidelity) and that both are understood in terms of our ontological displacement. Such were my reasoned reactions to Canterbury Tales. My unreasoned ones amounted to observation: look there’s a rape, that’s a rape, that’s a pogrom, why would anyone’s daughter want to sleep with him etc, etc? I read this in translation into modern English and was impressed about the rhyme, especially between Flanders and extravagances: who can fault that? The Tales is a display of language's majesty. My grasp of Chaucer amounts to the author saying through his myriad voices -- much like Bill Nighy in Hitchhiker’s Guide: there really is no point, just keep busy

  18. 4 out of 5

    Christine

    One of the questions that people ask is why do we still read old books? What's so great about them anyway? My brother asked me this after I was shocked that he hadn't read Canterbury Tales. I undoubtably get the same shocked expression when I hear someone hasn't read over a dozen other things. So why should we read Canterbury Tales? Well, I suppose the technical answer would be because each tale represents a style or type of writing. The collection is different forms that were popular in the day One of the questions that people ask is why do we still read old books? What's so great about them anyway? My brother asked me this after I was shocked that he hadn't read Canterbury Tales. I undoubtably get the same shocked expression when I hear someone hasn't read over a dozen other things. So why should we read Canterbury Tales? Well, I suppose the technical answer would be because each tale represents a style or type of writing. The collection is different forms that were popular in the day, making it some type of historical document (at least, according to my local bookstores if their shelving is anything to go by). Okay, I hear the no name complainer say, that's good for you English people, but I only take English because they make me. Why should I read it? Because it is the funniest thing in the whole world! You have farting! You think The BFG started it? You're wrong! Chaucer used the funny fart long before. It has sex! There's lots of sex! Everything is having sex! Okay, not everything, but even the chickens. There's chickens! There's marriage! There's love! There's fighting! There's the Wife of Bath! She is awesome. Who doesn't like the Wife? Even Shrek! knows the Wife of Bath. There's the second flood (maybe)! There's a knight, who to believe Terry Jones, isn't as honorable as he thinks he is. See, there is a Monty python connection! There's May/December romance! Canterbury Tales is one of those works of literature that is going to last simply because it is about the truth. True, you have very dated tales, such as the Nun, but there are also tales that are still current today, that would make good television even. Chaucer, like Shakespeare and Dickens, speaks to the human condition. He shows use that such speaking isn't a late idea, but started well before we think it did. I also think people should read it aloud so we can all sound like the Swedish Chef.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Alex

    Like two other Medieval landmarks, the Decameron and 1001 Nights, the Canterbury Tales are a collection of short stories drawn together by a framing story. In this case it’s a group of pilgrims from all different parts of society, and they’re telling stories to pass the time on their way to Canterbury to visit the shrine of Saint Thomas Becket. Here he is getting killed: Fatality! Chaucer only managed to finish 23 of a planned 120 stories, so that’s actually a pretty bad job; his big innovation wa Like two other Medieval landmarks, the Decameron and 1001 Nights, the Canterbury Tales are a collection of short stories drawn together by a framing story. In this case it’s a group of pilgrims from all different parts of society, and they’re telling stories to pass the time on their way to Canterbury to visit the shrine of Saint Thomas Becket. Here he is getting killed: Fatality! Chaucer only managed to finish 23 of a planned 120 stories, so that’s actually a pretty bad job; his big innovation was that the 23 he did finish created real, distinct characters representing a cross-section of society. The hypocritical religious figure the Pardoner, who’s basically running a protection racket for the soul - and we can see in him how jaded people have gotten about organized religion - the drunken Miller, who tells one of several lengthy fart jokes; and of course the Wife of Bath, Chaucer’s greatest creation. don't want no scrubs She’s looking for her sixth husband; she cheerfully admits to using sex to get what she wants; she has a dim view of men except as a means to an end.By God! if women hadde written stories, As clerkes han withinne hire oratories, They wolde han writen of men moore wikkednesse Than all the mark of Adam may redresse.What she’s saying is that men control the narrative; when it’s her turn to speak she has a lot to say. There are also, as mentioned, a number of fart jokes. The Miller's Tale contains perhaps history's first description of analingus as Absalon "kissed [this one lady's] naked arse, most savorously." The Summoner's Tale is an examination of the age-old question of how to divide a fart into twelve parts. Don't worry, they figure it out.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Trish

    If you've never read Chaucer in original medieval English, I definitely suggest you give it a go. It is such a satisfying experience and loads of fun to decode and demystify (you usually uncover something dirty or obscene). If the challenges of translation aren't for you, pick up a translated copy. You can have all the fun without the work.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jane Upshall

    I don’t know what I was supposed to gain by reading this book. Got through it with such pain . Am I missing something?

  22. 5 out of 5

    BAM The Bibliomaniac

    2018 Reading Challenge: an allegory The Rory Gilmore Challenge Ok imma gonna tackle this classic. I’m fairly certain I cheated on this test in high school. My only regret is that the copy I read had no grand explanatory introduction or any footnotes to help understand the political intrigues Chaucer hid in his writing. My copy did not have a barcode, so I just picked one. I should have bought the one in the photo.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Mark Adderley

    This might be not only the worst translation of Chaucer, but the worst translation of anything ever written. First of all, there shouldn't be translations of Chaucer. Much of Chaucer's meaning comes through the language he uses. Take away the language, and what's left is no longer Chaucer. I can see an argument for translating Chaucer into German, French, Italian, Tagalog, whatever. But into Modern English--that's insulting. If you can't read Chaucer's Middle English, just skip The Canterbury Tale This might be not only the worst translation of Chaucer, but the worst translation of anything ever written. First of all, there shouldn't be translations of Chaucer. Much of Chaucer's meaning comes through the language he uses. Take away the language, and what's left is no longer Chaucer. I can see an argument for translating Chaucer into German, French, Italian, Tagalog, whatever. But into Modern English--that's insulting. If you can't read Chaucer's Middle English, just skip The Canterbury Tales. If you really REALLY want to read it, struggle with the Middle English for about an hour. After that, you'll be fine. I'd highly recommend either the Riverside Chaucer (complete works in a scholarly edition) or the Norton Critical text of the Tales, which has marginal glosses and footnotes to explain the meanings of words and provide historical information. It's frustrating, though, when a translation is so far from the original meaning of the text that it seems the translator is really writing his or her own poem. This was what was frustrating about Seamus Heaney's translation of Beowulf and Simon Armitage's of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Here, though, there was at least some system in place, an overriding philosophy dictating the changes each translator made to his text. Raffel seems to just delight in misleading the reader. Take the opening lines. Chaucer wrote, "Whan that Aprill with his shoures soote, / The droughte of March hath perced to the roote." Famous lines. Raffel's rendering: "When April arrives, and with his sweetned showers / Drenches dried-up roots, gives them power." No mention of March; "dried-up" hardly conveys the same sense as "drought." Later on, Raffel describes the Squire as having "ridden with his father, on cavalry raids / In Flanders, Artois, and Picardy." Chaucer does not say that the Squire rode with his father, the Knight, on any campaigns at all. In fact, the battles fought by the Knight and Squire contrast--where the Knight had ridden on Crusades, the Squire had taken part in the Hundred Years' War. This important piece of characterization is entirely omitted in Raffel's translation. Anything worth doing is worth taking time over. Chaucer's language is worth learning. This type of short-cut is a travesty. If you're reading it for pleasure, be aware that you're NOT reading Chaucer; if you're reading it in class, transfer to another class--your professor doesn't know what he's doing.

  24. 4 out of 5

    John Hatley

    This is one of those books I read as a student of language. It is also one of the most significant works in the English language. The Canterbury Tales give students of the English language an excellent sample of Middle English (200 years before Shakespeare). At the same time, they provide an unparalleled glimpse of life in fourteenth-century England. To the adventurous I recommend reading it in the original Middle English.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    The Canterbury Tales is preachy, hard to read, and for the most part, pretty boring. I feel like I've been in the iambic pentameter wave pool. This is a book that I have wanted to knock off my reading bucket list. I wish I had enjoyed this more but most of it failed to hold my attention and I mainly just wanted it to be over while I was reading it. Chaucer is considered to be maybe the 2nd best English poet behind Shakespeare, and he did have some moments of brilliance in this collection. The Pr The Canterbury Tales is preachy, hard to read, and for the most part, pretty boring. I feel like I've been in the iambic pentameter wave pool. This is a book that I have wanted to knock off my reading bucket list. I wish I had enjoyed this more but most of it failed to hold my attention and I mainly just wanted it to be over while I was reading it. Chaucer is considered to be maybe the 2nd best English poet behind Shakespeare, and he did have some moments of brilliance in this collection. The Prioress's Tale was absolutely wonderful, The Miller's Tale is memorable for its bawdiness, but the rest for me just honestly weren't that great. I wanted to like this more and I'm disappointed in myself for not getting it. P.S. Pay attention in English class kids! The Canterbury Tales is primarily written in iambic pentameter. There is some prose toward the end which was a nice change of pace.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jess

    I only read four tales from this, since those were what were assigned for my class. What I read wasn't too terrible, but I don't exactly have a perfect judgement since I didn't get to read the entirety of the novel.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    Well, thank goodness that is finally done. With all due respect to the age and popularity of this book and the talent of the voice actors, I kind of want to throw this one across the room. I don't think there was ever a point where I sat back and thought, 'I'm really enjoying this one.' But I didn't hate it, necessarily. I just didn't enjoy it. It certainly has shock value!

  28. 4 out of 5

    anique

    I really love this collection of stories. Who didn't love the Wife of Bath? Or the Friar (a timely parable all Priests and Pastor should read). I loved The Canterbury Tales so much that I memorized the prologue in Old Middle English (and can still partially recite it)... "Whan that Aprille with his shoures sote The droghte of Marche hath perced to the rote, And bathed every veyne in swich licour Of which vertu engendred is the flour, Whan Zephirus eek with his sweete breeth Inspired hath in every hol I really love this collection of stories. Who didn't love the Wife of Bath? Or the Friar (a timely parable all Priests and Pastor should read). I loved The Canterbury Tales so much that I memorized the prologue in Old Middle English (and can still partially recite it)... "Whan that Aprille with his shoures sote The droghte of Marche hath perced to the rote, And bathed every veyne in swich licour Of which vertu engendred is the flour, Whan Zephirus eek with his sweete breeth Inspired hath in every holt and heeth The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne Hath in the Ram his half cours y-ronne And smale foweles maken melodye, That slepen al the nyght with open yë (So priketh hem nature in hir corages), Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages, And palmeres for to seken straunge strondes, To ferne halwes, couthe in sondry londes; And specially from every shires ende Of Engelond to Caunterbury they wende..."

  29. 5 out of 5

    Hayat

    I've read this book years ago and really enjoyed it but forgot to update after joining GR so I'm adding it now. I can't wait to reread The Canterbury Tales in the future and also try out Geoffry Chaucer's other works. I've read this book years ago and really enjoyed it but forgot to update after joining GR so I'm adding it now. I can't wait to reread The Canterbury Tales in the future and also try out Geoffry Chaucer's other works.

  30. 4 out of 5

    W

    Why must they teach it,given that the language is so archaic ? Really tested my patience.

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