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The Riverside Chaucer Hardcover – December 12, 1986

ISBN-13: 978-0395290316 ISBN-10: 0395290317 Edition: 3rd
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--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Editorial Reviews


`offers a much-needed shot in the arm to Chaucer studies in colleges and universities' Modern Language Review

'... indispensable for scholars and beginners alike ... Professor Larry D Benson ... deserves a medal both for organizing a formidable team of American and British scholars and for the excellence of his own contributions. ___IBooks___

'an enormous advance on its predecessor ... particularly in its informative introductory materials, glossary ... and the addition of explanatary notes ot the foot of each page. At well over 1,300 pages, it must be a bargain.' ___UCountry Life___

'This is a comprehensive, readable ... and up-to-date edition of the first major English poet ... the Riverside editors have served their poet handsomely. The new texts are improvements on which reveal just how brilliant an editor Robinson was, despite his limited access to the manuscripts.' Robin Lister ___The Guardian___

`The Riverside Chaucer, like its predecessor and companion the Riverside Shakespeare, is beautiful to look at and a sensuous delight to handle. Within its stout covers the entire works of the father of English literature are displayed in fine clear type with very adequate footnote glossaries. The linguistic, historical and literary scholarship are a masterpiece of Anglo-American collaboration. The reading of Chaucer is made into an exquisite pleasure, not a philological chore. This is the best edition of Chaucer in existence.' Anthony Burgess

'It is a sheer pleasure to read.' Good Book Guide --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Geoffrey Chaucer was an English author, poet, philosopher, bureaucrat (courtier), and diplomat. He is often referred to as the Father of English Literature. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 1327 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin; 3 edition (December 12, 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0395290317
  • ISBN-13: 978-0395290316
  • Product Dimensions: 10.2 x 8.3 x 1.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #121,473 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

104 of 113 people found the following review helpful By tepi on July 7, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Why read Chaucer? Well, in the first place for the beauty and masculine vigor of his English, an English one soon catches on to after a bit of practice. Why else? Well, because Chaucer was intensely human and his stories are interesting, and either truly poignant or richly comic and sometimes even both. Also for the rich gallery of unforgettable human types his stories bring before us, types such as:
The rejected Griselda - 'Lat me nat lyk a worm go by the weye;' the frisky Alisoun - ''Tehee!' quod she, and clapte the wyndow to;' the amorous Wife of Bath - 'Allas! Allas! that evere love was synne!', the scurvy Pardoner - 'Of avarice, and of swich cursednesse / Is al my prechyng, for to make hem free / To yeven hir pens, and namely unto me', and a host of others both high and low, noble and despicable, lovable and contemptible.
Of course, Chaucer isn't for everyone. Those with no feeling for his language and no sense of humor, and whose own humanity is not their strongest point, may lack what is needed to appreciate Chaucer at his true worth.
The present edition is a mammoth volume of 1327 pages which includes the complete and newly edited texts of everything Chaucer wrote - The Canterbury Tales, The Book of the Duchess, The House of Fame, Anelida and Arcite, The Parliament of Fowls, Boece, Troilus and Criseyde, The Legend of Good Women, The Short Poems, A Treatise on the Astrolabe, The Romaunt of the Rose. Brief language glosses are given at the foot of each page, while fuller Notes are found at the end of the book.
Unfortunately the lines of the texts are numbered in the conventional way - 10, 20, 30, etc. - instead of having numbers occur _only_ at the end of lines which have been glossed or given Notes - e.g., 9, 12, 16, 18, 32.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Sarang Gopalakrishnan on May 21, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Riverside 3 has all of Chaucer's major poems and two major prose works, a translation of Boethius and the Treatise on the Astrolabe, in Middle English. In addition to these, it includes several (relatively) short lyrics, some of doubtful authorship, and a Middle English translation of the (French) Romance of the Rose, done partly by Chaucer.
Spelling and punctuation have been regularized throughout, to make the poems more accessible. The insertion of commas is often dubious (for instance, in the Envoy to the Clerk's Tale, "lat him care and wepe and wrynge and waille" becomes "lat hym care, and wepe, and wrynge, and waille" for no evident reason) but maybe that's inevitable. If one is very particular one can always look up the textual notes.
The bottom-of-page glosses and explanatory notes could be better; there are several passages that an inexperienced reader of Middle English might find difficult but that are not explained in either place. The notes on mythological references etc. are more consistently helpful. The Introduction is all right with grammar/pronunciation, but could be more thorough. The glossary takes a little getting used to, because not all variants are considered (esp. i and vowel y are treated as the same letter), but is pretty good once you get used to it. You don't need to use it very often because the obviously difficult words are glossed at the bottom of the page.
The poetry, of course, is as good as it gets, and also very entertaining. Chaucer's range of styles is particularly amazing.
And as in winter leves been biraft,
Eche after other, til the tree be bare,
So that ther nis but bark and braunche y-laft,
Lyth Troilus, biraft of ech wel-fare,
Y-bounden in the blake bark of care.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Michael Varga on April 18, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This was one of the better editions I've worked with. The notes were comprehensive and very helpful. A large and useful glossary helped where the notes failed. And when that all failed, there was extensive introductory material including short descriptions of what various critics and scholars have said about the various tales and other works.
The only problems I have with this book is that the notes are not adequately linked with the text (they only list the line numbers at the bottom of the page instead of putting an indicator next to the glossed terms) and this often slows down the reading and comprehension.
Otherwise, this was a very enjoyable volume.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Wanda B. Red VINE VOICE on March 9, 2006
Format: Paperback
There are two questions at issue:

Why Chaucer? Why the Riverside?

First the second. If you are going to read Chaucer, this is the edition to get. It is the critical edition, which means this is the one that scholars quote from in their writings about Chaucer. This is the one any self-respecting Chaucer course will assign. This is the grown-up's edition of Chaucer. And beyond that, it's a great edition -- based on the inspired editors of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and with the notes and glosses that you need to link up to the most important backgrounds and criticism.

Also, the Riverside is the complete edition; it presents everything in the original Middle English. That means you get not only the Canterbury Tales, but also all the minor poems -- Troilus and Criseyde (honestly, his most moving poem), the so-called minor poems (the dream visions and lyrics) and Chaucer's translations. The paperback Riverside is also surprisingly easy to carry around.

As to the other question, why Chaucer? Perhaps because he is, as John Dryden called him, the "Father of English Poetry." Any serious student of English literature needs to start here (Shakespeare did!). Also, Chaucer is just supremely human, if that means having a supremely human sense of humor -- one that pokes fun at all the pretensions of our mortal state. At the same time he is capable of grasping after the utmost reaches of human feeling, both religious and romantic. A serious reading of Chaucer reminds a person that the human soul is not an invention of any region or time period of history. The laughter and the tears that are part of what his copyist Shakespeare later calls the "mortal coil" are all here.

Probably the best bargain of a book on all of amazon.
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