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The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer

The Canterbury Tales

by Geoffrey Chaucer

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
16,171121184 (3.73)604
  1. 80
    The Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio (thecoroner)
  2. 102
    Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (Othemts)
  3. 60
    Walking to Canterbury : A modern journey through Chaucer's medieval England by Jerry Ellis (amyblue)
  4. 50
    Piers Plowman by William Langland (myshelves)
    myshelves: Some similar themes are covered, especially with regard to religious issues.
  5. 40
    The Mercy Seller by Brenda Rickman Vantrease (myshelves)
    myshelves: The Mercy Seller, a novel about the religious ferment in the early 15th century, features a Pardoner who is not happy about the portrayal of the Pardoner in The Canterbury Tales.
  6. 10
    The Canterbury Tales by Seymour Chwast (kxlly)
  7. 10
    Tales of Count Lucanor by Don Juan Manuel (caflores)
  8. 11
    Life in the Medieval University by Robert Rait (KayCliff)
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» See also 604 mentions

English (122)  Dutch (2)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  Swedish (1)  Spanish (1)  Finnish (1)  German (1)  All languages (129)
Showing 1-5 of 122 (next | show all)
[b:The Canterbury Tales|2696|The Canterbury Tales|Geoffrey Chaucer|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1261208589s/2696.jpg|986234] is one of those books often mentioned in any survey of classic literature, and certainly with good reason. The structure of the book itself (stories within stories) predates [b:A Midsummer Night's Dream|1622|A Midsummer Night's Dream|William Shakespeare|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1327874534s/1622.jpg|894834] rather notably and [a:Geoffrey Chaucer|1838|Geoffrey Chaucer|http://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1202588994p2/1838.jpg] is with necessity a force of wit to be reckoned with.

[a:Geoffrey Chaucer|1838|Geoffrey Chaucer|http://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1202588994p2/1838.jpg]'s writing still seems fresh, and more of the stories in this collection hold up to the passing of time rather than fall flat from it. The snippets of the original poetry included in quotes make me want to read it in the original, in spite of what difficulties there may be, and the notes in the back helped expediate understanding when the language did get confusing.

Chaucer's social commentary was hilarious, and his characters were all rather notable. His use of doggerel for humor was extremely effective, and his views towards women's rights remarkable for their time. Hell, The Wife of Bath's prologue regarding men is still rather remarkable to read.

All in all, an excellent collection and one I look forward to reading again. ( )
  Lepophagus | Jun 14, 2018 |
The first time I encountered this was when my sister had to read it from English class. I tried my hand at it, decided it wasn't for me, and forgot about it until nearly ten years later when the same English teacher in the same school handed me the exact same book. (Shouldn't write in books, sis, especially ones that don't belong to you.) Now, searching on GR for that first version I encountered, I'm appalled that the damn thing was from the 1950s. How many grubby teen hands that must have passed through -- which would make for a more interesting story to me than the one inside the covers.

I was confronted with it again some years later, albeit a different, newer edition that I had to pay through the nose for at the university bookstore. It didn't get any better. I've tried reading in in the original language, in a translation of modern English (which, weirdly, bored me even more) and even, heaven forbid, the Spark Notes. In none of these attempts have I understood why some people think this is the greatest thing ever written.

I like the idea of it far more than the thing itself. ( )
  Yaaresse | Apr 24, 2018 |
This is of course the famous (and famously incomplete) collection of tales told by a group of pilgrims en route to Canterbury. For this 21st-century reader, it was a mixed bag: some really funny bits (fart jokes!) and some tremendously dull bits (preachy prose!). This is an “almost liked it, but not quite”. I think I’ll get a bit more out of it once I read some commentary and background.

Thoughts on each of the individual tales follow.

The Knight’s Tale is interesting in that it tells a very King Arthur-ish story with characters from Greek mythology; however, the telling was long and boring.

The Miller’s Tale was probably my favourite—it was just as funny as I’d been led to believe. No wonder this is the tale that gets taught in high schools. I knew it wouldn’t end well for Absalom when the story said that he was “squeamish of farting”.

The Reeve’s Tale played nicely off the previous story, by having the reeve tell a story that gets his revenge on the miller (who featured a reeve in *his* tale), but boy howdy is this tale totally disdainful of the idea of women being able to give consent. Also, rather raunchy.

The Cook’s Tale was disappointing because it ended so abruptly. I was reading on Serial Reader and ended up downloading the ebook from Project Gutenberg *and* reading the Wikipedia summary to confirm that that really was it, and not just a formatting error.

The Lawyer’s Tale has an interesting rhyme scheme and a good rhythm. The story is all right, if rather depressing for a 21st-century reader.

The Wife of Bath’s Tale has a great prologue: hilarious and an awesome character. Her tale is well told, although I’ve heard a variation of it before, probably in the Roger Lancelyn Green retelling of King Arthur. I think Gawain or Lancelot is the one tasked with that quest.

The Friar’s Tale is obviously forgettable because I finished it one day and by the next day I had to look it up on Wikipedia before being able to formulate any thoughts about it. Basically the friar is not crazy about summoners! Will be interested to hear what tale the summoner comes up with.

The Summoner’s Tale turns the tables and demonstrates just how much the summoner hates friars: his tale involves all friars going to Hell and living inside the Devil’s arsehole. Yikes. Also, fart jokes!

The Clerk’s Tale is the most unfeminist thing I’ve ever read. Awful.

The Merchant’s Tale: EW old guy marrying much younger woman! Also there was a random interlude that seems to have involved Hades and Persephone, but I’m not sure, because the punctuation was unclear. This tale also features some startlingly 21st-century language: “He banged you!” (CHAUCER, how rude.)

The Squire’s Tale was another one where I had to look it up online to see if it really did end as abruptly as I thought. There seems to be a few of those. Did Chaucer write the tales separately as inspiration hit, rather than in the order we have?

The Franklin’s Tale gets points for being about Bretons.

The Physician’s Tale makes me wonder what is WITH all of these male pilgrims getting their jollies by telling stories about women having their “virtue/chastity” jeopardized? UGH outdated societal expectations.

The Pardoner’s Tale made me picture the pardoner like the stereotypical fat friar, growing rich over other people’s fear of God.

The Shipman’s Tale: yep definitely on the naughty side

The Prioress’s Tale is OF COURSE prejudiced against Jewish people :(

The Tale of Melibee is SO BORING. It’s just Prudence quoting Cicero and Seneca in prose. I skimmed.

The Monk’s Tale was much easier to digest after The Tale of Melibee, given that it is a bunch of short extracts about various historical figures.

The Nun’s Priest’s Tale is about Chanticleer and the Fox, which was cool on that level—it’s the sort of story you hear about in popular culture but don’t really grasp until you see it in its original context. Also, this tale gave me a flashback to this movie: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rock-a-Doodle

The Second Nun’s Tale is another one I had to look up in order to be able to recall the details. Not interesting.

The Canon’s Yeoman’s Tale was all right; it was certainly more energetic than the previous tale.

The Manciple’s Tale is a fable about crows and how they came to have black feathers. As a fable, it is not bad.

The Parson’s Tale is super boring and told in prose, so I skimmed it. ( )
  rabbitprincess | Apr 12, 2018 |
I could listen to and read this repeatedly and still find more to love I think. ( )
  lissabeth21 | Oct 3, 2017 |
one of the masterpieces of world literature. This is my original book
  jhawn | Jul 31, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 122 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (187 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Geoffrey Chaucerprimary authorall editionscalculated
Coghill, NevillTranslatormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ackroyd, PeterTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Allen, MarkEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bantock, NickIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Barisone, ErmannoEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Barnouw, A.J.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bennett, J. A. W.Notesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bragg, MelvynForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Burton, RaffelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cawley, A. C.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Caxton, WilliamPrefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fisher, John H.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Forster, PeterIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
French, Robert D.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hanning, Robert W.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hieatt, A. KentEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hieatt, ConstanceEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hill, Frank ErnestTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kent, RockwellIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Latham, RobertGeneral editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lounsbury, Thomas Raynesfordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lumiansky, R.MTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Manly, John MatthewsEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nicolson, J. U.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Skeat, Walter W.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stearn, TedCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Taylor, AndrewEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tuttle, PeterTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Untermeyer, LouisIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wain, JohnIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

Is contained in


The Canterbury Tales, Volume I [Folio Society] by Geoffrey Chaucer

The Canterbury Tales, Volume II [Folio Society] by Geoffrey Chaucer

Två Canterbury sägner by Geoffrey Chaucer

The Miller's Prologue and Tale (Selected Tales from Chaucer) by Geoffrey Chaucer

The Merchant's Tale by Geoffrey Chaucer

The Wife of Bath's Prologue and Tale by Geoffrey Chaucer

Chaucer's Canterbury Tales: The Prologue by Geoffrey Chaucer

The Merchant's Prologue and Tale (Selected Tales from Chaucer) by Geoffrey Chaucer

The Pardoner's Prologue and Tale (Selected Tales from Chaucer) by Geoffrey Chaucer

The book of the Duchess by Geoffrey Chaucer

Nun's Priest's Tale by Geoffrey Chaucer

The Franklin's Prologue and Tale by Geoffrey Chaucer

Chaucer : the prologue, the knightes tale the nonne preestes tale from the Canterbury tales by Geoffrey Chaucer

The Knight's Tale by Geoffrey Chaucer

The Clerk's Prologue and Tale by Geoffrey Chaucer

The Reeve's Prologue and Tale with the Cook's Prologue and the Fragment of his Tale by Geoffrey Chaucer

The prologue and three tales by Geoffrey Chaucer

The Reeve's Tale by Geoffrey Chaucer

The Tale of the Man of lawe;: The Pardoneres tale; the Second nonnes tale; the Chanouns yemannes tale, from the Canterbu by Geoffrey Chaucer

The General Prologue: Part One A and Part One B (Variorum Chaucer Series) (Pt.1A) by Geoffrey Chaucer

The Prioress' Tale by Geoffrey Chaucer

Chaucer: The Prioresses Tale, Sir Thopas, The Monkes Tale, The Clerkes Tale, The Squieres Tale From The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer

The Canterbury tales; the Prologue and four tales, with the Book of the duchess and six lyrics, by Frank Ernest Hill

The Physician's Tale (The Doctor's Tale) by Geoffrey Chaucer

The Squire's Tale (Variorum Chaucer Series) by Geoffrey Chaucer

The Miller's Tale: Geoffrey Chaucer (Oxford Student Texts) by Geoffrey Chaucer

The manciple's tale by Geoffrey Chaucer

Chaucer's Prologue and Knights Tale by Geoffrey Chaucer

A Variorum Edition of the Works of Geoffrey Chaucer. Volume V: The Minor Poems, Part One by Geoffrey Chaucer

The Man of Law's tale by Geoffrey Chaucer

The Franklin's Tale: from The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer

The Parson's Tale by Geoffrey Chaucer

The General Prologue & The Physician's Tale: In Middle English & In Modern Verse Translation by Geoffrey Chaucer

The Prioress' Prologue and Tale (Selected Tales from Chaucer) by Geoffrey Chaucer

The Friar'S, Summoner'S, and Pardoner's Tales from the Canterbury Tales (Medieval and Renaissance Texts) by Geoffrey Chaucer

The Franklin's Tale by Geoffrey Chaucer

The Prologue and the Knightes Tale by Geoffrey Chaucer

The prologue to the book of the tales of Canterbury, The knight's tale, The nun's priest's tale by Geoffrey Chaucer

The Canon's Yeoman's Tale by Geoffrey Chaucer

The Canon Yeoman's Prologue and Tale: From the Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer (Selected Tales from Chaucer) by Geoffrey Chaucer

Pardoners Tale (Complete Text (Naxos)) by Geoffrey Chaucer

Miller's Tale -- Prologue by Geoffrey Chaucer

The Cook's Tale by Geoffrey Chaucer

The Friar's Tale by Geoffrey Chaucer

The knightes tale, from the Canterbury tales of Geoffrey Chaucer by Geoffrey Chaucer

Chaucer: The Knight's Tale by Geoffrey Chaucer

Is retold in

Has the adaptation

Is parodied in


Has as a commentary on the text

Has as a student's study guide

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... I have translated some parts of his works, only that I might perpetuate his memory, or at least refresh it, amongst my countrymen. If I have altered him anywhere for the better, I must at the same time acknowledge, that I could have done nothing without him...

JOHN DRYDEN on translating Chaucer
Preface to the Fables

And such as Chaucer is, shall Dryden be.

Essay on Criticism
First words
When the sweet showers of April have pierced/
The drought of March, and pierced it to the root,/
And every vein is bathed in that moisture/
Whose quickening force will engender the flower;/
And when the west wind too with its sweet breath/
Has given life in every wood and field/
To tender shoots, and when the stripling sun/
Has run his half-course in Aries, the Ram,/
And when small birds are making melodies,/
That sleep all the night long with open eyes,/
(Nature so prompts them, and encourages);/
Then people long to go on pilgrimages,/
And palmers to take ship for foreign shores,/
And distant shrines, famous in different lands;/
And most especially, from all the shires/
Of England, to Canterbury they come,/
The holy blessed martyr there to seek,/
Who gave his help to them when they were sick.
When in April the sweet showers fall
And pierce the drought of March to the root, and all
The veins are bathed in liquor of such power
As brings about the engendering of the flower,
When also Zephyrus with his sweet breath
Exhales an air in every grove and heath
Upon the tender shoots, and the young sun
His half-course in the sign of the Ram has run,
And the small fowl are making melody
That sleep away the night with open eye
(So nature pricks them and their heart engages)
Then people long to go on pilgrimages
And palmers long to seek the stranger strands
Of far-off saints, hallowed in sundry lands,
And specially, from every shire's end
Of England, down to Canterbury they wend
To seek the holy blissful martyr, quick
To give his help to them when they were sick.

(translated by Nevill Coghill, 1951)
Once upon a time, as old stories tell us, there was a duke named Theseus;  Of Athens he was a lord and governor, And in his time such a conqueror, That greater was there none under the sun.
Sloth makes men believe that goodness is so painfully hard and so complicated that it requires more daring than they possess, as Saint George says.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
This record is for the unabridged Canterbury Tales. Please do not combine selected tales or incomplete portions of multi-volume sets onto this record. Thank you!
This is a Middle English edition of the complete tales, with glossary and notes.
This is a selection translated and adapted by Christopher Lauer.
The ISBN 0192510347 and 0192815970 correspond to the World's classics editions (Oxford University Press). One occurrence, however, is entitled "The Canterbury Tales: A Selection".
Publisher's editors
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Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (4)

Book description
blurb: The Canterbury Tales stands conspicuous among the great literary achievements of the Middle Ages. Told by a jovial procession of pilgrims - knight, priest, yeoman, miller, or cook - as they ride towards the shrine of Thomas a’ Becket, they present a picture of a nation taking shape. The tone of this never resting comedy is, by turns, learned, fantastic, lewd, pious, and ludicrous. Geoffrey Chaucer began his great task on about 1386. This version in modern English, by Nevill Coghill, preserves the freshness and racy vitality of Chaucer’s narrative.

Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0140424385, Paperback)

On a spring day in April--sometime in the waning years of the 14th century--29 travelers set out for Canterbury on a pilgrimage to the shrine of Saint Thomas Beckett. Among them is a knight, a monk, a prioress, a plowman, a miller, a merchant, a clerk, and an oft-widowed wife from Bath. Travel is arduous and wearing; to maintain their spirits, this band of pilgrims entertains each other with a series of tall tales that span the spectrum of literary genres. Five hundred years later, people are still reading Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. If you haven't yet made the acquaintance of the Franklin, the Pardoner, or the Squire because you never learned Middle English, take heart: this edition of the Tales has been translated into modern idiom.

From the heroic romance of "The Knight's Tale" to the low farce embodied in the stories of the Miller, the Reeve, and the Merchant, Chaucer treated such universal subjects as love, sex, and death in poetry that is simultaneously witty, insightful, and poignant. The Canterbury Tales is a grand tour of 14th-century English mores and morals--one that modern-day readers will enjoy.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:50 -0400)

(see all 10 descriptions)

A retelling of the medieval poem about a group of travelers on a pilgrimage to Canterbury and the tales they tell each other. With their astonishing diversity of tone and subject matter, The Canterbury Tales have become one of the touchstones of medieval literature. Translated here into modern English, these tales of a motley crowd of pilgrims drawn from all walks of life-from knight to nun, miller to monk-reveal a picture of English life in the fourteenth century that is as robust as it is representative.… (more)

» see all 46 descriptions

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0140424385, 014042234X

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