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The Canterbury Tales
Cover of The Canterbury Tales
The Canterbury Tales
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At the Tabard Inn, thirty travelers of widely varying classes and occupations are gathering to make the annual pilgrimage to Becket's shrine at Canterbury. It is agreed that each traveler will tell four tales to help pass the time and that the host of the inn will judge the tales and reward the best storyteller with a free supper upon their return.

Thus we hear, translated into modern English, twenty-some tales, told in the voices of knight and merchant, wife and miller, squire and nun, and many more. Some are bawdy, some spiritual, some romantic, some mysterious, some chivalrous. Between the stories, the travelers converse, joke, and argue, revealing much of their individual outlooks upon life as well as what life was like in late fourteenth-century England.

At the Tabard Inn, thirty travelers of widely varying classes and occupations are gathering to make the annual pilgrimage to Becket's shrine at Canterbury. It is agreed that each traveler will tell four tales to help pass the time and that the host of the inn will judge the tales and reward the best storyteller with a free supper upon their return.

Thus we hear, translated into modern English, twenty-some tales, told in the voices of knight and merchant, wife and miller, squire and nun, and many more. Some are bawdy, some spiritual, some romantic, some mysterious, some chivalrous. Between the stories, the travelers converse, joke, and argue, revealing much of their individual outlooks upon life as well as what life was like in late fourteenth-century England.

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    10 - 12

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About the Author-
  • Geoffrey Chaucer (c. 1343-1400), English poet, was the son of a London vintner. He was married and held a number of positions at court and in the king's service, including diplomat, controller of customs in the port of London, and deputy forester in the King's Forest in Somerset. He was buried in the Poets' Corner of Westminster Abbey where a monument was erected to him in 1555.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    October 1, 1988
    Like Charles Lamb's edition of Shakespeare, Hastings's loose prose translation of seven of Chaucer's tales is more faithful to the work's plot than to the poet's language. This is not a prudish retelling (even the bawdy Miller's tale is included here) but the vigor of Chaucer's text is considerably tamed. In the original, the pilgrims possess unique voices, but here the tone is uniformly bookish. The colloquial speech of the storyteller is replaced by formal prose; for example, while Cohen (see review above) directly translates Chaucer's ``domb as a stoon'' as ``silent as stones,'' Hastings writes ``in solemn silence.'' Cartwright's startling paintings skillfully suggest the stylized flatness of a medieval canvas, but often without the accompanying richness of detail. Like Punch and Judy puppets, the faces and voices of these pilgrims are generally representative but lack the life and charm of the original text. Ages 10-up.

  • AudioFile Magazine A knight, a miller, a cook, and a nun are just a few of the more than two dozen lively characters traveling together on an annual pilgrimage from London to Canterbury to visit the shrine of Saint Thomas Becket. They each tell a tale drawn from religion, folklore, classic myth, or even gossip to make the time pass. Geoffrey Chaucer's simple literary device provides an unprecedented and unsurpassed view of his fourteenth-century England. Five of the BBC's most versatile and creative narrators do a marvelous job voicing the personalities of the storytellers. Burton Raffel's very complete and contemporary translation retains the poetic half rhymes of the original Middle English and includes the often severely abridged monk and parson's tales. It never ceases to amaze how immediate and modern Chaucer's world continues to sound. B.P. (c) AudioFile 2009, Portland, Maine
  • AudioFile Magazine British actors present seven of Chaucer's classic tales in modern verse. Tim Pigott-Smith opens with "The Friar's Tale," recounting the Summoner's pact with the devil in a clear and expressive voice. Timothy West's portrayal of "The Seaman's Tale" lags a bit when the long-suffering wife's vocal characterization changes mid-speech. Rosalind Shanks lends sweet sadness to the murder and miracle comprising "The Prioress's Tale." Genuine angst rings through Sean Barrett's depiction of "The Manciple's Tale," as a husband takes decisive action on a crow's advice. Michael Maloney applies a driving rhythm as a young woman chooses death over loss of virtue in "The Physician's Tale." This clear and compelling collection is certain to appeal to both novice and experienced Chaucer readers. J.J.B. (c) AudioFile 2005, Portland, Maine
  • Masterpieces of World Literature "Chaucer's genius is such that the tales reveal the personalities of their tellers."
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    Blackstone Publishing
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    All copies of this title, including those transferred to portable devices and other media, must be deleted/destroyed at the end of the lending period.

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Geoffrey Chaucer
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