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The Canterbury Tales (Oxford World's Classics) Paperback – May 15, 2008
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Top Customer Reviews
This is the best translation yet of the famous medieval work. I own the Coghill translation (Penguin), as well as the Norton Edition which is glossed and annotated. And the Oxford by Wright, an older version that is exactly the one reviewed here: same number of pages, same introduction, different cover artwork. To the issue at hand: Chaucer's poetry in the Canterbury Tales was direct, earthy, and sensual whenever his characters were thus, so it really betrays the poetry and the poet to translate his work as some sort of tea party where all the participants, including the Miller and the Wife of Bath, were prone to use euphemisms when the conversation got raunchy. But the Middle Ages were far raunchier than many of us think, and Chaucer was a man of his times, only more so. That is why I like this translation by Wright. His modern version flows quite naturally and the characters use words that do fit their personalities. However, the much-praised, but mediocre translation by Coghill does this with the Wife of Bath (Penguin, page 267):
Be sure, old dotard, if you call the bluff,
You'll get your evening rations right enough.
This is euphemism pure and simple, and euphemism of the bad kind, because in the original Chaucer NEVER mentions "evening rations." This "evening rations" nonsense is a term that Coghill put there because he could not bring himself to write the exact, modern term for the original "queynte." (And, no, contrary to some opinions, queynte does not mean "pretty little thing" or belle chose.) I don't blame him, since it would have been probably censored --I'm pretty sure Amazon would censor that word if I were to write it here.Read more ›
Warning, would-be Kindle readers of the David Wright translation (Oxford World Classics): after the translator's introduction, the majority of the text in this book is stored as images, scanned from the print version! This causes several problems:
* The Kindle's dictionary can't be used.
* Text-to-speech can't be used.
* Text can't be annotated.
* Alternative text sizes can't be selected.
* Text size varies wildly as larger images are resized to fit my Kindle's 6" screen.
* Some of the image resizing renders text too small to be read comfortably on my Kindle's 6" screen.
* The book is a whopping 4.2 Mb for a mere 412 pages! That's more than ten times the size it would be if the text were stored properly in the Kindle's text format.
* The obscene file size, and constantly having to render images, are a drain on Kindle's battery.
It's disappointing and baffling that OUP chose not to produce a proper Kindle version of this excellent translation.
That's probably an odd thing to say about a classic work of fiction. Typically the classics are beautiful, insightful, inspiring, etc. etc. but rarely do we call them `fun', a term that seems to be the only possible excuse for the existence of so many crummy genre novels. And I'm sure that there are literature professors who read deep meaning into the Tales, some blah blah blah about how they display a deep understanding about the human condition and that they have some sort of life lesson for us, but really!
These stories are fun because of the sheer vitality of Chaucer's characters, a healthy antidote to the dominant image of the Middle Ages as somehow ponderous and solemn (cue the Gregorian chants, show an image of a chillingly earnest priest, cut to the Black Death). The characters of the Tales seem incredibly alive, and except for some recurrent themes (particularly virginity and adultery), they're radically different from each other --- from the shockingly vulgar to the smugly righteous ---- and are all exuberantly drawn. The wife of Bath in particular is a pistol. (Speaking of anachronisms, the knight's tale has some accidental hilarity in that it's supposed to be set in ancient Greece but the characters are clearly medieval English in all but name. Imagine Washington crossing the Delaware. . . in a speedboat.) The one truly nasty piece of work is the prioress, whose story is disgustingly anti-Semitic.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I literally loved that book! I received it very quickly and it was in good conditions! This must be on everyone's reading list!Published 23 months ago by beraha
I ordered this version (Oxford World's Classics) from this seller because it was the same version of the book that my English teacher had. Read morePublished on February 23, 2013 by I. Rico
This is a wonderful book. It took me some time to get into the book, because I am not that used anymore to this style of writing. Read morePublished on November 16, 2012 by Rajiv Chopra
Enter the Canterbury Tales. Honestly it's a mixed bag. The prose rendering isn't any trouble to understand and I like that it's written like a piece of verbal storytelling, casual... Read morePublished on November 11, 2011 by Helm
After purchasing The Canterbury Tales, Oxford World's Classics, I received from this company a completely different book. Read morePublished on September 11, 2011 by L. Chamberland
A collection of tales from the 14th century. The literary device is that a group of travelers are going to Canterbury together and regale each other with stories to pass the time. Read morePublished on March 12, 2011 by Joe Blow
This may indeed be a great translation, but if you are using a kindle, you will likely never find out. The pages appear to be copied images of the book. Read morePublished on November 10, 2010 by GrouchyDad