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58 of 62 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Music to the ear
Why the Norton edition -- which preserves these tales in their original Middle English dialect -- over the modernised versions of Chaucer's classic stories? Because it's only in their original form that they retain the poetry and power of Chaucer's intent. I read these stories with a professor who could passably read Middle English and it was a revelation. Before, with...
Published on June 12, 2008 by dottikins

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0 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Quality of book was fine, just not a fan of the story
The book came to me used but with very little wear, I just wasn't a fan of the stories. I needed it for a class, and it's nothing I would pick up again.
Published 7 months ago by Cassie


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58 of 62 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Music to the ear, June 12, 2008
By 
dottikins (San Francisco, CA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Canterbury Tales: Fifteen Tales and the General Prologue (Norton Critical Editions) (Paperback)
Why the Norton edition -- which preserves these tales in their original Middle English dialect -- over the modernised versions of Chaucer's classic stories? Because it's only in their original form that they retain the poetry and power of Chaucer's intent. I read these stories with a professor who could passably read Middle English and it was a revelation. Before, with translated versions, I had never quite understood why Chaucer was considered so great, so necessary to the canon. Hearing them in the original form, I suddenly understood. The tales are funny, dirty, odd stories (like an English version of "The Decameron") told in striking, blood-stirring rhyme and rhythm. Hearing them read aloud was like music to the ear. Which makes the smoothed-over versions feel flat and dead to the ear.

Buy this edition. Try to learn enough Middle English to get along. Discover for yourself the power of Chaucer's poetry.
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29 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful pilgrimage, December 17, 2008
By 
Chris "Okie" (Bountiful, UT United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Canterbury Tales: Fifteen Tales and the General Prologue (Norton Critical Editions) (Paperback)
Writing a "review" of The Canterbury Tales is difficult, not because the book/collection isn't worthy of a review, but because it is so widely variant and has so many nuances to be discussed.

For those who don't know, The Canterbury Tales is a book containing a bunch of stories told by individuals traveling together on a pilgrimage to Canterbury. The book is written in the late 1300s with the pilgrimage set in the same basic time. It begins with a "General Prologue" providing a description of each of the characters in the group as well as the "game" they'll be playing (that of telling stories on the way to Canterbury). Each pilgrim tells a different tale (well, not "all" of them...the work is "unfinished" in the sense that we're missing tales from some pilgrims). Some tales are set in their contemporary England while others are set in exotic lands, romantic settings, or ancient cultures.

So what do you say in a brief review of The Canterbury Tales?

To start with, I would suggest you try reading it in the original Middle English. The language/spelling/pronunciation can be a problem, so be sure you get an edition that's glossed (unless you're proficient in Middle English). During the semester, I found a "children's" edition of the tales at my local library. It included Modern English "translations" of a couple of the tales along with some illustrations. It was kind of fun to read, but it lost some of the rhythm and drive of the tales by having them in a modern format.

Secondly, there are some bits that can be skipped, but it's difficult to identify which ones. For example, some might suggest that the entire Pardoner's Prologue (and much of his tale) can be ignored altogether and that you should just focus on the actual "tale" part of his tale. While his tale is entertaining and the reading would be much shorter if that's all you read, you would miss a TON of social and religious commentary which is very interesting. Similarly, the Wife of Bath has lengthy rambling passages in her Prologue and the Merchant includes numerous lengthy lists that have little bearing on the plot. It's difficult to create a good synopsis of what can safely be skipped, because it depends in a large extent on what you want to get out of it. Worse still, if you're reading in the unfamiliar Middle English, it's harder to quickly scan the text and get a feel for when the narrative has gotten back to the 'heart of the matter.'

The writing is fun and clever (once you get through the 'translation' issues with the Middle English). For a common reference, it's like reading Shakespeare, only more archaic by a couple hundred years. The language of the narrative varies depending on the narrator of the particular prologue/tale, but with Chaucer at the helm behind the scenes, the writing is generally very good, descriptive, layered, humorous, inspiring, etc. (except for when he's trying to illustrate 'bad writing', and then it's good in that it's so bad).

The messages presented are widely varied as well. The Knight's Tale was an intriguing tale of romance and chivalry with lots of courtly intrigue...but at times it felt a little dry. The Miller and the Reeve were hilarious tales and introduced me to a new (to me) genre in the fabliau. The Wife of Bath had an interesting prologue and a fun tale, again with a semi-romantic style and an interesting moral. The Nun's Priest gave us a fun little animal fable. The Prioress presented a strange little tale about miracles or anti-semitism or devout love or something else?

Overall, I would definitely recommend having a copy of The Canterbury Tales on your shelf. Some tales are easier to read than others. Some tales are more fun while others are more thought provoking (as stated in one of the prologues, a tale has one of two purposes, to educate or to entertain...and there are examples of each). Once you get your teeth into the language (probably the biggest hurdle) I suspect you'll enjoy these.

*****
5 stars
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Finally, one that has all the tales my class calls for!, July 23, 2014
This review is from: The Canterbury Tales: Fifteen Tales and the General Prologue (Norton Critical Editions) (Paperback)
Table of Contents
General Prologue 1

The Knight's Tale 26

The Miller's Prologue 85

The Miller's Tale 88

The Steward's Prologue [The Reeve's Prologue] 105

The Steward's Tale [The Reeve's Tale] 107

The Cook's Prologue 118

The Cook's Tale 120

Introductory Words to the Man of Law's Tale 122

Prologue to the Man of Law's Tale 125

The Man of Law's Tale 127

Epilogue to the Man of Law's Tale [of disputed authenticity] 158

The Wife of Bath's Prologue 159

The Wife of Bath's Tale 182

The Friar's Prologue 193

The Friar's Tale 195

The Summoner's Prologue 205

The Summoner's Tale 207

The Cleric's Prologue 223

The Cleric's Tale 225

Chaucer's Happy Song 258

The Merchant's Prologue 260

The Merchant's Tale 262

Epilogue to the Merchant's Tale 292

Introduction to the Squire's Tale 293

The Squire's Tale [unfinished] 294

The Landowner's Prologue [The Frat/Hitts Prologue] 313

The Landowner's Tale [The Franklin's Tale] 314

The Physician's Tale 337

Introduction to the Pardon Peddler's Tale [Introduction to the Pardoner's Tale] 345

The Pardon Peddler's Prologue [The Pardoner's Prologue] 347

The Pardon Peddler's Tale [The Pardoner's Tale] 351

The Shipman's Tale 365

The Host's Merry Words to the Shipman and the Prioress 377

Prologue to the Prioress's Tale 378

The Prioress's Tale 380

Prologue to Sir Thopas 387

Sir Thopas 388

The Host Stops Chaucer's Narration 395

The Tale of Melibee 397

The Prologue of the Monk's Tale 431

The Monk's Tale: De Castbus Virorum lllustrium [The Fall or Illustrious Men] 434

The Prologue of the Nun's Priest's Tale 457

The Nun's Priest's Tale of Cock and Hen

Chauntecleer and Pertelote 459

Epilogue to the Nun's Priest'sTale 475

The Second Nun's Prologue 476

Prayer to the Virgin Mary 478

The Second Nun's Tale 481

Prologue of the Cleric-Magician's Servant [The Canon's Yeoman's Prologue] 495

Tale of the Cleric-Magician's Servant [The Canon's Yeoman's Tale] 500

The Provisioner's Prologue [The Manciple's Prologue] 520

The Provisioner's Tale [The Manciple's Tale] 523

The Parson's Prologue 530

The Parson's Tale 533

Here the Maker of This Book Takes His Leave 597

Notes 599
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars He wrote the book!, January 30, 2014
This review is from: The Canterbury Tales: Fifteen Tales and the General Prologue (Norton Critical Editions) (Paperback)
Glending Olsen, the author, was an amazing professor at Cleveland State University while I was a grad student. I took his Chaucer class, and we used this text. He had a real knack for the OE language and an understanding for Chaucer's world and life. It was a genuine pleasure to be in the class. He signed my book; it is something I will always treasure.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Canterbury Tales, November 20, 2012
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This review is from: The Canterbury Tales: Fifteen Tales and the General Prologue (Norton Critical Editions) (Paperback)
This is an excellent version of this classic. The footnotes, introductions and end notes are all very useful. I really enjoyed reading it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, April 7, 2014
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This review is from: The Canterbury Tales: Fifteen Tales and the General Prologue (Norton Critical Editions) (Paperback)
Chaucer is a language unto himself it would seem. However he was a great author and well worth the time to read. This was a well made book, it hasn't fallen apart yet anyway, and is worth sharing with others
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, August 3, 2014
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This review is from: The Canterbury Tales: Fifteen Tales and the General Prologue (Norton Critical Editions) (Paperback)
Fabulous resource! To anyone studying Chaucer or the medieval period, this is a must have!
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nice book., November 2, 2013
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This review is from: The Canterbury Tales: Fifteen Tales and the General Prologue (Norton Critical Editions) (Paperback)
I bought this book for my son. He said it was a good book, and it helped him with whatever he needed it for.
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4 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Canterbury Tales, February 5, 2009
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This review is from: The Canterbury Tales: Fifteen Tales and the General Prologue (Norton Critical Editions) (Paperback)
I finally took the time to read one of the classics of English literature and can only say it should be required reading for all people interested in literature.
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0 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Quality of book was fine, just not a fan of the story, January 3, 2014
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This review is from: The Canterbury Tales: Fifteen Tales and the General Prologue (Norton Critical Editions) (Paperback)
The book came to me used but with very little wear, I just wasn't a fan of the stories. I needed it for a class, and it's nothing I would pick up again.
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The Canterbury Tales: Fifteen Tales and the General Prologue (Norton Critical Editions)
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