- Paperback: 1328 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Classics; Reprint edition (August 30, 2005)
- Language: Middle English
- ISBN-10: 014042234X
- ISBN-13: 978-0140422344
- Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 2.4 x 7.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 689 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #90,823 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Canterbury Tales (original-spelling Middle English edition) (Penguin Classics) (Middle English) Paperback – August 30, 2005
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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, the son of a wine-merchant, in about 1342, and as he spent his life in royal government service his career happens to be unusually well documented. By 1357 Chaucer was a page to the wife of Prince Lionel, second son of Edward III, and it was while in the prince's service that Chaucer was ransomed when captured during the English campaign in France in 1359-60. Chaucer's wife Philippa, whom he married c. 1365, was the sister of Katherine Swynford, the mistress (c. 1370) and third wife (1396) of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, whose first wife Blanche (d. 1368) is commemorated in Chaucer's ealrist major poem, The Book of the Duchess.From 1374 Chaucer worked as controller of customs on wool in the port of London, but between 1366 and 1378 he made a number of trips abroad on official business, including two trips to Italy in 1372-3 and 1378. The influence of Chaucer's encounter with Italian literature is felt in the poems he wrote in the late 1370's and early 1380s – The House of Fame, The Parliament of Fowls and a version of The Knight's Tale – and finds its fullest expression in Troilus and Criseyde.
In 1386 Chaucer was member of parliament for Kent, but in the same year he resigned his customs post, although in 1389 he was appointed Clerk of the King's Works (resigning in 1391). After finishing Troilus and his translation into English prose of Boethius' De consolatione philosophiae, Chaucer started his Legend of Good Women. In the 1390s he worked on his most ambitious project, The Canterbury Tales, which remained unfinished at his death. In 1399 Chaucer leased a house in the precincts of Westminster Abbey but died in 1400 and was buried in the Abbey.
Jill Mann is a fellow of the British Academy, an Honorary Fellow of St. Anne’s College, Oxford, and a Life Fellow of Girton College, Cambridge.
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FYI: An excellent Modern English version will be found in the Kindle Store for $.99 by A. S. Kline.
NOTE: The first line normally reads: "Whan that Aprill with his shoures soote...." The words "shoures" and "soote" are each two syllables in Middle English pronunciation; thus the entire line rightly has the number of accented syllables Chaucer intended. If "his" (a one-syllable word) were improperly changed to "hise" (turning it into a two-syllable word, pronounced his-uh) -- as is done here -- that adds an unintended and, therefore, unacceptable extra syllable. I have to assume this is merely a typo; but how many other such errors are contained herein?
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.
Most recent customer reviews
Simple sentences and simple modern language which I really enjoyed it!