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The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
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The Canterbury Tales (edition 2003)

by Geoffrey Chaucer (Author)

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16,319125185 (3.73)608
Member:Gingermama
Title:The Canterbury Tales
Authors:Geoffrey Chaucer (Author)
Info:Penguin Classics (2003), Edition: Revised, 528 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***
Tags:england, classic

Work details

The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer

  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)
Satire (166)
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» See also 608 mentions

English (125)  Dutch (3)  Portuguese (Brazil) (2)  Swedish (1)  Spanish (1)  Finnish (1)  German (1)  All languages (134)
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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
( )
  jonfaith | Feb 22, 2019 |
The Canterbury Tales is by a wide margin the best-known work of English literature from the medieval period. It's not only enshrined in the school History syllabus between Crop Rotation, Monasticism and Castles, but it's a book that many modern readers still seem to turn to for pleasure, despite the obvious difficulties caused by the linguistic and cultural distance of six centuries. I've often dipped into it pleasurably before, and I've had a copy sitting on my shelves for many years, but this is the first time I've tried a cover-to-cover read.

I found the language easier to deal with than I expected - Chaucer's version of southern English is a lot more straightforward for the modern reader than the nearly contemporary Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Anyone who knows a bit of French or Latin and a bit of German or Dutch ought to be able to read it fairly easily with the help of the marginal glosses. Especially with 600 pages to practice on, you soon get the hang of what it means and a rough idea of how it sounds (I listened to an audio recording of the General Prologue for help with this). In fact, the pronunciation of Middle English is usually more logical than that of Modern English. If what's written is "knight", it makes far more sense to say cnicht (or kerniggut if you're John Cleese) than nite...

Like most people, I had mixed reactions to the Tales. The bawdy ones were fun - it's always interesting to see that people enjoyed fart-jokes as much (or perhaps even more) in those days as they do now. The chivalric-romance style of several other Tales was colourful but sometimes a bit slow for modern tastes (some of the descriptions in the "Knight's Tale" seem to go on for ever), but it was revealing to see that Chaucer was well aware of that and was prepared to make fun of it in the mock-heroic "Nun's Priest's Tale" and the deliberately boring and directionless "Tale of Sir Thopas", which is supposedly being told by the poet's narrator-persona, "Chaucer", until he's cut off by the Host.

There are several "high-minded" religious Tales that look as though they are meant to be taken straight - the blatantly antisemitic - "Prioress's Tale" is perhaps best ignored; the "Physician's Tale", a gruesome story about an honour-killing, is not much better, except that there at least the narrator seems to distance himself a little from the idea that it's better to kill your (innocent) daughter than risk shame attaching to her; the "Second Nun's Tale" (the gloriously over-the-top martyrdom of St Cecilia) is almost readable, but even I was forced into skimming by the "Parson's Tale", a lengthy and very dry sermon on the subject of "penance" (it does get a bit livelier when it's discussing the Seven Deadly Sins...).

Probably the most interesting aspect of the Tales overall is what Chaucer has to say about the relations between men and women. Several Tales deal with this topic explicitly in various different ways, and the core of the argument is obviously in the "Wife of Bath's Prologue and Tale" - she argues powerfully and directly that the world will not collapse into disorder if women are allowed to decide the course of their own lives. The "Franklin's Tale" also takes up the idea of an equitable marriage in which neither partner owes obedience to the other and presents it in a positive light. It's tempting to read something of the Chaucers' domestic situation into this, but of course we don't have the slightest bit of evidence for anything other than that Philippa Chaucer had a career of her own.

We read this for its scope, vitality and colour, and for the liveliness of Chaucer's verse, which manages to jump the centuries without any problem. It's striking how we're so used to groaning and expecting dullness or difficulty when we see a passage of verse in a modern prose novel - here it's precisely the opposite; we (rightly) groan when we see the prose text of the "Parson's Tale" and the "Tale of Melibee" coming up, and are relieved when we get back to verse again...

One - irrelevant - thought that struck me for the first time on this reading was to wonder how the practicalities of storytelling on horseback work out. Even on foot, it's difficult to talk to more than two or three people at once whilst walking along, and when riding you can't get as close together as you can on foot, plus you've got the noise of the horses. So I don't know how you would go about telling a story to a group of 29 riders in a way that they can all hear it. If they were riding two abreast, they would be spread out over something like 50m of road, and it's unlikely that the A2 was more than two lanes wide in the 14th century... ( )
4 vote thorold | Feb 13, 2019 |
In honour of my late medieval studies adviser, Dr John Bugge, I figured it was time to finish reading one of his favourite books.

I read it. It's a collection of stories. I am honestly still not sure what the appeal is. *And I'm a medievalist.* But I read it and now I don't feel like I have to read it again. It can go onto my bookshelves so I can feel intelligent and well read. ( )
  melsmarsh | Feb 9, 2019 |
[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 |
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» Add other authors (186 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Geoffrey Chaucerprimary authorall editionscalculated
Coghill, NevillTranslatormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ackroyd, PeterTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Allen, MarkEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Altena, Ernst vanTranslatorsecondary 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

Contains

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

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Has the adaptation

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Inspired

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Epigraph
... 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
1700

And such as Chaucer is, shall Dryden be.

ALEXANDER POPE
Essay on Criticism
1711
Dedication
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.
Quotations
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".
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Canonical DDC/MDS

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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)

(summary from another edition)

» 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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