- Age Range: 6 - 10 years
- Grade Level: 4 - 6
- Hardcover: 104 pages
- Publisher: HarperCollins; First Edition edition (August 15, 1988)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0688062016
- ISBN-13: 978-0688062019
- Product Dimensions: 9 x 0.2 x 11 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 678 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #241,283 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Canterbury Tales First Edition Edition
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From Publishers Weekly
This carefully researched and lively edition of a part of Chaucer's masterwork is richly and beautifully produced. While Cohen admits that "Chaucer's words are best," her prose adaptation of four of his tales captures the zest and vigor of Middle English and makes his stories accessible to the modern child. This is not a pedantic translation or a bowdlerized retelling; Cohen does not substitute weak cliches for Chaucer's rollicking and earthy metaphors, nor does she sacrifice the rhythms of his text. Readers hear the bickering of the pilgrims as they decide on which tale they want to hear next, and the rambling voice of the good Sir John as he laments Chaunticleer's fate. Hyman's meticulous drawings not only evoke the rich panoply of 14th century England, but they are faithful to the text in the smallest detail. Each pilgrim is made particular: we see the Pardoner's limp hanks of hair and the Wife of Bath's gap-toothed smile and dainty ankle. One could not ask for a more enticing introduction to Chaucer's world. Ages 10-up.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From School Library Journal
Grade 3 Up Cohen has chosen wisely to adapt four stories from Chaucer's masterpiece for children with an overview of the pilgrimage, whetting the appetite for the real thing. She doesn't bowdlerize as Farjeon (Hale, 1930) and McCaughrean (Childrens, 1984; o.p.), who included more stories, had to. Cohen's choices: ``The Nun's Priest's Tale'' (Chauntecleer), ``The Pardoner's Tale'' (revelers in search of death), ``The Wife of Bath's Tale'' (variant of Sir Gawain and the Loathly Lady), and ``The Franklin's Tale'' (honor, fidelity, and generosity). She has given equal importance and depth to the tellers and to the tales. Her language, as always, is clear and fine. Hyman's glowing watercolors, bordered in gold, illuminate the tales. She has not painted the characters in flat, medieval style, but has given them the depth that the tales do, bringing them to life, dressed precisely as Chaucer described them, captured in a medieval frame, as Chaucer had framed them in the pilgrimage. Enjoy this impressive blend of talent. Helen Byrne Gregory, Grosse Pointe Public Library, Mich.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Top customer reviews
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Rather than the review the whole sprawling book, I am going to limit myself to what might seem unpromising material: The Prioress's Tale.
We meet this dame in the General Prologue, and if you read superficially, you may just classify her as a "good woman of religion," but if you read a bit more carefully, and have some knowledge of human nature, you are like to shudder a little. In particular, Chaucer's description of her table manners -- never spills a single drop, completely elegant, never stains her immaculate blouse -- is so uncannily precise that I remember seeing a similar woman dining in Bangkok, Thailand: the most "elegant" table manners imaginable, well-slathered in makeup, and wearing a completely artificial smile which was returned by her female companions at lunch that day. At the time, it was one of the strangest spectacles I had ever seen, this sort of affected, upwardly-striving, totally fake elegance: and in fact, it made me shudder and clear out of the place as soon as I could. These women were ALL affected hypocrites, and all ACCEPTING one another's show of affected elegance, and it made my hair stand on end a bit --- "a nest of vipers" came to my mind.
The Prioress is cut from the same cloth, an affected lady who actually aspires to the aristocracy, not to any religious accomplishments. She has little pet dogs whom she spoils, feeding them food more suitable for human infants (there might be a reference to Matthew 15:26 there), and, fatally, wears a bracelet reading "Amor Vincit Omnia" ("Love Conquers All") --- which might be carelessly taken for a Christian motto but is nothing of the kind.
And then she launches into her "tale," which is a short, horrific, and pointless tale of an "innocent Christian boy" who is foully murdered by the foul Jews for practicing his Christian hymns as he went to school through their neighborhood. Oh, those Jews: they slit his throat and threw him in the privy. Later, some Divine Agency brought him back to life, and killed all those nasty, nasty Jews.
Behind the affected elegance of the Prioress lurks a person who really knows how to hate.
So, Chaucer surely knew how to create a devastating portrait of religious decadence and hypocrisy, in a few short pages. How many modern writers can do that?
The book as a whole could not be more highly recommended!
The reason this book is a 4 and not a 5 is because of the physicality of the book. It is the size of a small brick, which is fine, but it is not made out of materials that are particularly durable. I am careful with my possessions, but ripped the cover on the first day. I am afraid that since it has so many pages but is not bound well or with a more durable softcover that it will get really beaten up. Still, the pages are thicker than ultra thin "Bible pages" so I am at least not worried about ripping them.
I would highly recommend purchasing this edition over other versions of Canterbury Tales, but be aware that is a particularly fragile softcover.
The Canterbury Tales follow a group of pilgrims on their way to Canterbury, a cathedral town in England. Having all coincidentally stayed in the same inn, the group decides to go Canterbury together. The inn's owner, the Host, decides to make the journey more interesting by asking everyone in the party to tell a story: whoever tells the best story, in his opinion, will win a free dinner. The author, Geoffrey Chaucer, is a member of the party and serves as the narrator, and even tells a couple stories himself.
Thus follows a series of poems. The topics vary wildly, and include faith, romance, gender equality, and wealth. Western culture has changed a lot since the Tales were written--but in some ways, we haven't changed at all. There is also occasional vulgar and perverted humor (my favorite--and not something I was expecting from medieval poetry).
Just as the Tales vary wildly in topic, so too do they vary in quality. Some are quick, enjoyable, absorbing reads, while others are snooze fests that are a chore to get through. This is the main reason I have given the Tales four stars.
The Tales are incomplete. Some of the poems were left unfinished with no in-story explanation, while others are interrupted by other characters. The metanarrative is never resolved (ie, the Host never picks the winner). The Penguin Classics edition also cuts the two prose tales, The Tale of Melibee and the Parson's Tale, and replaces them with summaries.