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The Canterbury Tales (Modern Library Classics) Paperback – November 10, 2009
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“A delight . . . [Raffel’s translation] provides more opportunities to savor the counterpoint of Chaucer’s earthy humor against passages of piercingly beautiful lyric poetry.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Masterly . . . This new translation beckons us to make our own pilgrimage back to the very wellsprings of literature in our language.” —Billy Collins
“The Canterbury Tales has remained popular for seven centuries. It is the most approachable masterpiece of the medieval world, and Mr. Raffel’s translation makes the stories even more inviting.”—Wall Street Journal
About the Author
Geoffrey Chaucer was born in London about 1340, the son of a well-to-do and well-connected wine merchant. In 1360, after his capture while fighting in the French wars, Edward III paid his ransom, and later Chaucer married Philippa de Roet, a maid of honor to the queen and sister-in-law to John of Gaunt, Chaucer's patron.
Chaucer's oeuvre is commonly divided into three periods: the French (to 1372), consisting of such works as a translation of the Roman de la Rose and The Book of the Duchess; the Italian (1372-1385), including The House of Fame, The Parliament of Fowls and Troilus and Criseyde; and the English (1385-1400), culminating in The Canterbury Tales. In 1400, he died, leaving 24 of the apparently 120 tales he had planned for his final masterpiece. Chaucer became the first of England's great men to be buried in the Poet's Corner of Westminster Abbey.
Peter G. Beidler is the Lucy G. Moses Distinguished Professor of English at Lehigh University. He is the author of a dozen books and more than 150 articles. In the summer of 2005 he directed a seminar for high school teachers on Chaucer's Canterbury Comedies (the seminar was supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities). He and his wife Anne have four children.
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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.
Download a sample to see how the lines look. They're quite readable on the Kindle though often they have to be bent in two because of their length. You'll have to trust me that the definitions are good: they are, but you can't get to them on the sample.
But for 95 cents, hey. Complete, and with a good introduction. The notes are well-linked and easy to get to once you have the complete etext.
A quarter of the book is language notes, word definitions. Another quarter is historical and social notes. These are keyed into the language notes, but you'll have to get to them by using a bookmark in the notes. They're quite thorough and helpful.
I'd have bought this edition at ten times the price, like a shot. Fanatical Kindle user that I am, I think the printed text would be slightly easier to handle, but you'd need two bookmarks there, so maybe not.