Customer Review

24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential Reading, May 21, 2004
This review is from: The Riverside Chaucer (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.
-- Troilus and Criseyde Bk IV
He stoupeth doun, and on his bak she stood,
And caughte hire by a twiste, and up she gooth -
Ladyes, I prey yow that ye be nat wrooth;
I kan nat glose, I am a rude man -
And sodeynly anon this Damyan
Gan pullen up the smok, and in he throng.
-- The Merchant's Tale
"What is this world? What asketh men to have?
Now with his love, now in his colde grave,
Allone, withouten any compaignye."
-- The Knight's Tale
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