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The Canterbury Tales (Oxford World's Classics) Paperback – May 15, 2008
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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.
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At the Tabard Inn, a tavern in Southwark, near London, the narrator joins a company of twenty-nine pilgrims. The pilgrims, like the narrator, are traveling to the shrine of the martyr Saint Thomas Becket in Canterbury. The narrator gives a descriptive account of twenty-seven of these pilgrims, including a Knight, Squire, Yeoman, Prioress, Monk, Friar, Merchant, Clerk, Man of Law, Franklin, Haberdasher, Carpenter, Weaver, Dyer, Tapestry-Weaver, Cook, Shipman, Physician, Wife, Parson, Plowman, Miller, Manciple, Reeve, Summoner, Pardoner, and Host. (He does not describe the Second Nun or the Nun’s Priest, although both characters appear later in the book.) The Host, whose name, we find out in the Prologue to the Cook’s Tale, is Harry Bailey, suggests that the group ride together and entertain one another with stories. He decides that each pilgrim will tell two stories on the way to Canterbury and two on the way back. Whomever he judges to be the best storyteller will receive a meal at Bailey’s tavern, courtesy of the other pilgrims.
I won't go into detail about all the tales that are told except to say that I found them witty, entertaining, and thoughtful.
One of the things I love about the Tales is they were truly popular stories as would be told during his time period. Often very funny, and also often quite bawdy, if you love stories of both types, you'll love the Tales!
For those of you who have seen the movie A Knight's Tale, and who think the Knight's Tale is the same as the movie, I hate to disappoint you, but it's not. The movie, however, is very faithful to the style of the Tales, up to and including some more modern songs in the storyline. So if you loved the story style of A Knight's Tale, you will most likely love The Canterbury Tales.
One other note: the title of this eBook contains the words "and Other Poems." There are most of Chaucer's other poems in here, but some of them are abridged. They do give you an idea of what Chaucer had to say outside of the Tales, though, and they don't really suffer from the abridgment. The editor who gathered them here merely cut some of the more tedious parts out, yet so the reader doesn't get lost by the cut verses, there are outlines of what was in them.
In addition, not all of the works here are Chaucer's; the editor also included an abridged version of Edmund Spenser's The Fairie Queen. I have no idea why the editor left this off the title because some people might like to pick up this book in order the read that, as well. Anyway, it's abridged for two reasons: 1) some of the storyline can be very tedious and repetitive; 2) As it says in the preface, it's very loonnngggg: 35,000 verses! So only two thirds of Fairie Queen is actually published here, but like with Chaucer's lesser poems, there is a prose outline that assures the reader doesn't get lost.
Anyway, whether you're picking up this book for casual reading, or for revisiting an old friend, or if this is required reading for a class, I'm sure you'll enjoy!