Read The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer Online


The procession that crosses Chaucer's pages is as full of life and as richly textured as a medieval tapestry. The Knight, the Miller, the Friar, the Squire, the Prioress, the Wife of Bath, and others who make up the cast of characters -- including Chaucer himself -- are real people, with human emotions and weaknesses. When it is remembered that Chaucer wrote in English atThe procession that crosses Chaucer's pages is as full of life and as richly textured as a medieval tapestry. The Knight, the Miller, the Friar, the Squire, the Prioress, the Wife of Bath, and others who make up the cast of characters -- including Chaucer himself -- are real people, with human emotions and weaknesses. When it is remembered that Chaucer wrote in English at a time when Latin was the standard literary language across western Europe, the magnitude of his achievement is even more remarkable. But Chaucer's genius needs no historical introduction; it bursts forth from every page of The Canterbury Tales.If we trust the General Prologue, Chaucer intended that each pilgrim should tell two tales on the way to Canterbury and two tales on the way back. He never finished his enormous project and even the completed tales were not finally revised. Scholars are uncertain about the order of the tales. As the printing press had yet to be invented when Chaucer wrote his works, The Canterbury Tales has been passed down in several handwritten manuscripts....

Title : The Canterbury Tales
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ISBN : 16156536
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 272 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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The Canterbury Tales Reviews

  • MJ Nicholls
    2019-02-26 10:35

    When confronted with the painful choice of whether or not to read Chaucer in the original Middle English, I agonised for precisely four seconds and decided to read Nevill Coghill’s modern translation in lovely Penguin paperback. In the same way I wouldn’t learn German to read Goethe, or unlearn English to read Dan Brown, I refuse to learn archaic forms of English for pointless swotty scholar-points, and grope instead for selfish readerly pleasure, two-fingering the purists and bunking down with Mr. Nevill for nights of sumptuous moral homily, proto-feminist romantic comedy, and high courtly drama. For Chaucer neophytes like me, this text captures the bouncy humour and devilish cleverness of the original (not that I would know!), and hopefully will turn a generation of frightened and unenlightened readers on to this master of verse. (And if you must know, my rhyming homage review was lost due to a power failure and a more tempting invitation to eat pilaf rice with Brian. Street children! Wives of Bath! Go forth and Chaucerize!)

  • James
    2019-03-11 12:32

    Book ReviewIt was 1996 and my freshmen year at college. I had already declared English as my major and needed to choose between Chaucer and Shakespeare as the primary "classic" author to take a course on. I chose Shakespeare. My advisor told me that's the usual pick and most missed out. I laughed at her. She was 40 years older than me and told me all the dirty stuff was in Chaucer... "Are you sure?" she asked. At that point, I realized life was just beginning. I was so naive back then. We clicked and bonded over my 4 years at school. I later realized she taught the class and that's why she always joked with her prospective students. I ended up taking both, and I am so glad I did. I adored Shakespeare, but until you've read all of Chaucer's work, you don't realize what a canon it is. From The Wife of Bath to The Squire, the satire, humor and innuendo are at an all-time high. No clue how he wasn't burned at the stake for all that he wrote about in the 14th century. Simply put, pilgrims are on a journey to/from Canterbury and tell their tales. It's woven so well together, you can't help but feel as though you're part of the ride. If I didn't have a backlog of over 1000 books in my TBR, I'd take on this tome again. It's lyrical, humorous and thought-provoking. It's nonsense, weird and crazy. But that's what makes it worth a read. If you have a copy, sample one of the stories. It'll be fantastic to hear everyone's opinions!About MeFor those new to me or my reviews... here's the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at, where you'll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I've visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by.

  • Pink
    2019-02-28 08:21

    My biggest fear about this book was that it would be like The Pilgrim's Progress. Although they followed a similar format, they couldn't have been more different for me. The Pilgrim's Progress was boring and preachy, whereas this was delightfully bawdy. There are many translations, from Middle English, to Victorian verse, to modern day prose. So sample a few and read what you're comfortable with. Then dive in and enjoy the stories. They can be read independently of one another, but often play off each other so they're best read in order, though this differs between editions. If you happen to hit one you don't like, feel free to skip it, as there'll be another riotous tale along soon enough. These can be read lightly, laughing at the rudeness and humour, or studied more in depth, to find hidden subtleties and meanings. It's the sort of book that re-reading will enrich your experience and it's one I'm glad to have tried for my first time.So don't be scared of stuffy or complex tales because it's 600 years old. Really, not that much has changed today.

  • Rebecca
    2019-03-26 13:36

    I'm gonna start texting in Chaucer's English.*declares war on abbreviation*

  • Ahmad Sharabiani
    2019-03-26 07:22

    The Canterbury Tales, Geoffrey ChaucerThe Canterbury Tales is a collection of 24 stories that runs to over 17,000 lines written in Middle English by Geoffrey Chaucer.تاریخ نخستین خوانش: بیست و ششم ماه سپتامبر سال 2009 میلادیعنوان: حکایتهای کنتربری؛ جفری چاسر؛ مترجم: علیرضا مهدیپور؛ مشخصات نشر: تهران، نشر چشمه، 1387 تا 1389؛ در سه جلد؛ جلد 2 در 452 ص؛ شابک دوره: 9789643624880؛ فارسی انگلیسیهزار و یک شب در انگلیس ترجمه کتاب معروف «حکایت‌های کانتربری» این فرصت را داد تا هم با یک اثر کلاسیک آشنا بشویم و هم زبان انگلیسی قدیم را بخوانیم؛ کلیسای جامع کانتربری یکی از مراکز مهم مسیحیت در دنیاست. برای پی بردن به اهمیت کلیسا کافی ست بدانید که دانشگاه ‌های آکسفورد و کمبریج زمانی زیرمجموعه همین کلیسا بوده اند، و هنوز هم چهار کالج در آکسفورد و دو کالج در کمبریج هست، که اسقف اعظم کانتربری شخصا ریاستش را به عهده دارد. اسقف اعظم در میان مسیحیان انگلیکان، درجه ای همانند پاپ دارد و مسیحی‌های انگلیکان پس از کاتولیک‌ها بیشترین تعداد را در دنیای مسیحیت دارند. حالا کلیسایی به این درجه از اهمیت،‌ داستانی دارد. این داستان هم داستانی قدیمی و جزو متون کهن و کلاسیک به حساب می‌آید. «حکایت‌های کانتربری» را علیرضا مهدی پور، شاعر تبریزی اگرچه تنها مقدمه و چهار قصه از کل 24 داستان حکایت‌های کانتربری را ترجمه کرده، اما همین هم غنیمت است. به ویژه که ایشان خوش ذوقی کرده و داستان‌های منظوم چاسر را در قالب شعر به فارسی برگردانده، و این کار را خوب انجام داده است. «حکایت‌های کانتربری» جفری چاسر نوشته و در قصه‌ های آن از شیر مرغ تا جان آدمیزاد پیدا می‌شود. ماجراجویی عاشقانه، داستان زندگی قدیسان، قصه‌ های مذهبی، داستان‌های تمثیلی از حیوانات و حتی موعظه. چاسر 15 سال پایانی عمر خویش را صرف نوشتن حکایت‌های کانتربری کرد، که خودش هم به عنوان زائر در آن حضور دارد. در دیباچه کتاب، او در یک مهمان خانه با 29 شخصیت دیگر رو به رو می‌شود که آن‌ها هم زائر مقبره تامس بکت قدیس در کلیسای جامع کانتربری هستند. تامس بکت قدیس مردی بود که شوالیه ‌های تحت فرمان پادشاه به اشتباه او را کشته بودند، و مزار او در کلیسای جامع کانتربری به زیارتگاه مردم تبدیل شده بود. چاسر از سفر یک گروه از زائران به این محل استفاده می‌کند تا داستان بگوید و مردمان زمانه خویش را نیز معرفی کند. صاحب مهمان‌خانه ‌ای که زائران در آن گردآمده ‌اند پیشنهاد می‌دهد همه زوار برای گذران وقت در طول راه قصه بگویند، و از همین جاست که چاسر توصیف شخصیت‌ها را شروع می‌کند؛ از شوالیه گرفته تا شخم زن و آسیابان و کارپرداز، از داروغه گرفته تا راهب و بازرگان و قاضی و البته کشیش‌ها و راهب‌های مختلف که یکی‌شان حتی توبه فروش (کفاره گیر) است. به واقع در حکایت‌های کانتربری مردمی از طبقه‌ های مختلف نقش قصه ‌گویی را به عهده می‌گیرند، و رفتار‌ها و اظهار نظر‌های آن‌ها سرنخ‌های زیادی درباره روش زندگی، و خلق و خوی مردمان آن زمانه به خواننده می‌دهد. مثلا حکایت نخست را شوالیه (از طبقه اشراف) نقل می‌کن،د و قرار بر این می‌شود که پس از او هم راهب قصه بگوید. اما آسیابان (از طبقه پایین جامعه) خودش را وسط می‌اندازد، تا قصه اش را تعریف کند. نخستین بودن قصه ی شوالیه، خواننده را به این صرافت می‌اندازد که لابد قصه‌ها بر اساس طبقه اجتماعی شخصیت‌ها گفته خواهند شد، اما وقتی آسیابان خودش را قاتی ماجرا می‌کند،‌ معلوم می‌شود که قرار نیست این طور باشد. چاسر پس از بازنشستگی از کار - یعنی در اوایل دهه 1390 میلادی - شروع کرد به کار جدی روی حکایت‌های کانتربری. او برنامه بزرگی برای نوشتن این حکایت‌ها در ذهن داشت و اگر آن را پیاده می‌کرد؛ حکایت‌ها خیلی بیشتر میشد. برنامه اصلی چاسر این بود که هر یک از شخصیت‌های حاضر در حکایت‌های کانتربری چهار داستان بگویند؛ دو تا حین راه رفتن به زیارت، و دو تا در راه برگشت. با این حساب باید 120 داستان دراین اثر نوشته می‌شد، اما متن موجود به زبان انگلیسی 24 حکایت بیشتر نیست، و این یعنی روز 25 اکتبر سال 1401 میلادی که چاسر از دنیا رفته، ظاهرا جفری چاسر می‌خواسته همه ی حکایت‌های کانتربری را واقعا برای مردم و برای «خوانده شدن» بنویسد. او در جریان کارش با مردمی از طبقات مختلف اجتماع سر و کار داشت و شاید همین مساله بود که او را به فکر نوشتن شعر و قصه گویی برای مخاطب عام انداخت. چاسر می‌خواست چیزی بنوسید که از لحاظ زبانی برای همه قابل فهم باشد اما یک مشکل بزرگ در این راه وجود داشت. تا پیش از چاسر، ادبیات در انگلیس صرفا دو شکل داشت؛ یک شکل از آن به زبان فرانسه نوشته می‌شد، و مختص دربار و درباریان بود، و شکل دیگرش هم به لاتین نوشته می‌شد و مختص کلیسا بود، و خلاصه مردم معمولی برای لذت بردن از آثار ادبی هیچ نداشتند. چاسر این وضعیت را عوض کرد و به همان زبان انگلیسی ای نوشت که مردمان لندن در کوچه و خیابان استفاده می‌کردند. این جور استفاده از زبان محلی توسط چاسر شاید تحت تاثیر نوشته ‌های بوکاچیو، پترارک و دانته در ادبیات ایتالیایی بود، اما انگار همه منتظر بودند که یک نفر در انگلیس چنین کاری انجام بدهد، و راه را برای بقیه باز کند، و همین طور هم شد، چون شاعران انگلیسی پس از چاسر به نوشتن به زبان ساده و محلی تمایل پیدا کردند. اصل حکایت‌های کانتربری به زبان انگلیسی میانه نوشته شده، و شباهت‌هایی با زبان نوشتاری و گفتاری امروز انگلیسی دارد. خواننده ای که با زبان انگلیسی آشناست، متن اولیه حکایت‌های کانتربری را تا حدی می‌تواند بخواند، در حالی که بعضی از متون معاصر با این اثر اصلا برای انگلیسی زبان‌ها هم قابل خواندن نیست، و باید ترجمه آن‌ها به زبان انگلیسی مدرن را خواند. علی رضا مهدی پور- مترجم این حکایت‌ها – در واقع شعر قدیمی انگلیسی را به نظم فارسی و قالب مثنوی درآورده. در دو جلد حکایت‌های کانتربری که نشر چشمه آن‌ها را چاپ کرده، هم دیباچه کلی کتاب هست و هم چند تا از خواندنی ترین حکایت‌ها. در این کتاب می‌توانید در دو صفحه رو به رو، ترجمه فارسی و اصل متن انگلیسی قدیم به همراه معادل آن در انگلیسی امروز را ببینید، و این، کار را برای خوانشگر بسیار راحت می‌کند. می‌گویند اگر خواسته باشید از اصل انگلیسی حکایت‌های کانتربری سر دربیاورید، باید آن را با صدای بلند بخوانید، چون معنی شعر این طوری راحت‌تر فهمیده می‌شود. نکته جالب درباره ترجمه کتاب این است که مترجم خود را در قید و بند ادبیات فاخر و واژه ‌های ادبیات کهن نگه نداشته، و به واقع همچو چاسر نگاهی اجتماعی به زبان داشته. چاسر در حکایت‌های کانتربری به یک بعد اجتماعی دیگر هم توجه داشته و آن هم توصیف ظاهری مردمان در آن دوره و زمانه یعنی قرن 14میلادی است. چاسر مدتی مسئوول صنف وارد کنندگان پارچه به انگلیس بود، و همین تجربه باعث شده در شعر‌های ایشان جزئیات دقیقی از لباس و سر و وضع مردمان در آن دوره ببینیم و بخوانیم. یکی از مناطقی که چاسر در دوران کارش مدتی در آنجا زندگی می‌کرد، همان منطقه ای است که کلیسای جامع کانتربری در آن واقع شده، و خلاصه این که همه چیز در دوران کاری چاسر دست به دست هم داده؛ تا او تجربه‌ های اجتماعی زندگی خودش را در شعر و ادبیات به کار بگیرد. از سوی دیگر چاسر در دورانی زندگی می‌کرد که تنش‌های زیادی در جامعه انگلیس وجود داشت. در دوران کودکی او طاعون در انگلیس شیوع پیدا کرده و بین 30 تا 50 درصد از جمعیت انگلیس را کشته بود. حتی پس از رفع بلا هم جامعه انگلیس هنوز متشنج بود، و طبقه کارگر دیگر به شرایط پیشین زندگی راضی نمی‌شدند، و به همین خاطر به شدت از طبقه مرفه و اشراف زاده ها نفرت پیدا کرده بودند. کار به جایی رسید که در سال 1381 میلادی، رعیت‌ها علیه طبقه اشراف قیام کردند و شکاف طبقاتی بیشتر از گذشته شد. این شکاف‌ها در تقابل شخصیت‌ها در حکایت‌های کانتربری هم دیده می‌شود. نویسنده ‌ها و هنرمندان معاصر چاسر، خیلی زود اهمیت و ارزش کتاب او را درک کردند. با وجود این که چاسر در نوشتن حکایت‌ها تا حدی تحت تاثیر نویسنده ‌های ایتالیایی و فرانسوی بود، اما موجود بودن اثر او به زبان انگلیسی، باعث شد که خوانندگان حکایت‌های کانتربری بیشتر از نمونه ‌های مشابهی همچو «دکامرون» نوشته بوکاچیو باشد. نکته مهم دیگر در موفقیت این اثر این بود که چاسر از توصیفی رئالیستی برای معرفی شخصیت‌ها استفاده کرده بود، و این مساله خیلی برای خوانندگان انگلیسی قرن 14 و 15 میلادی تازگی داشت. از سوی دیگر یکی از مهم‌ترین کار‌های چاسر در حکایت‌های کانتربری این بود که او قافیه را در شعر‌ها به کار گرفت و در واقع سنتی از ادبیات فرانسه را وارد ادبیات انگلیسی کرد. چاسر در دوره خود انسان فرهیخته ای بود و شاعر و مترجم بود. مثلا این که کتاب «تسلی بخش فلسفه» نوشته بوئه تیوس - فیلسوف رومی- را ترجمه کرد و شعر‌های فرانسوی و ایتالیایی زیادی را هم به انگلیسی برگرداند. ظاهرا چاسر در اوایل دوران فعالیت ادبی خود مجبور بود طبق ادبیات کلیشه ای اشرافی بنویسد اما در آخرین کارش که همین حکایت‌های کانتربری باشد، دیگر لحن خاص خودش را دارد. چاسر همعصر حافظ شیرازی بوده، و معمولا استادان قدیمی ادبیات کار او را با رودکی مقایسه می‌کنند. چاسر درک عمیقی از ذات انسان داشته و در حکایت‌های کانتربری، جهان را از دیدگاه انسان‌های مختلف دیده است؛ او جهان را همان طور که می‌دید نشان داده و به همین خاطر است که پس از گذشت این همه قرن، هنوز هم خواندن حکایت‌های کانتربری لذت بخش است. ا. شربیانی

  • Markus
    2019-03-01 09:30

    "It's that you each, to shorten the long journey,Shall tell two tales en route to Canterbury,And, coming homeward, another two,Stories of things that happened long ago.Whoever best acquits himself, and tellsThe most amusing and instructive tale,Shall have a dinner, paid by us all,Here in this roof, and under this roof-tree,When we come back again from Canterbury."One of the most legendary books from the Middle Ages, the Canterbury Tales is a wonderful collection of short stories about life in medieval England.Chaucer’s world at the time of writing is one of plague, famine and war. The Hundred Years’ War had just come out of one of its most violent phases when the author penned these words. And yet the Canterbury Tales are filled with humour, lightness and parody. There is little of the dark, war-torn oppressed society that some might expect.Throughout the collection, Chaucer fills his pages with wit, exaggeration and an illustration of how medieval English society was outside the religious texts and formally written histories. That makes for rather interesting reading.The Canterbury Tales is far from the best book ever written. The language, despite sometimes being incomprehensible, is sometimes beautiful, but not something truly outstanding. The tales themselves are far from perfect, and the characters are a mixed bunch, both in morality, complexity and pure quality.Nevertheless, this is a classic for a reason, and that reason isn’t only that the book through a twist of fate actually has survived down the centuries. It provides a fun and light-hearted insight into the English Middle Ages, and it’s been inspiring European culture for centuries.

  • Manny
    2019-02-24 06:21

    A classic that has worn well... the psychology, in particular with regard to women, seems remarkably modern! It's funny, and not just in one style either. Sometimes he's subverting the popular cliches of the day, sometimes he's slyly campaigning for women's rights, and sometimes he's just having fun telling dirty jokes. I'm having trouble deciding which style I like most - they're all good, and often mixed up together too.I once spent a pleasant bus trip sitting next to a grad student who was doing a dissertation on Chaucer. I asked her why it seemed in some ways so much more sophisticated than Shakespeare. Apparently the difference is that Shakespeare had to be suitable for the masses, but Chaucer was aimed pretty exclusively at court people, who could be given stronger stuff without having their morals corrupted. Or whatever double standard was being employed. It all sounded quite interesting.I read it in the original Middle English... speaking Swedish and French, I found it reasonably easy to understand, most of the words were similar to something I knew. It's really lovely language.__________________________________To my considerable surprise, I have just learned that the good Geoffrey is still with us! He is very well-preserved considering his advanced age, and has even started a blog. Under "Favorite posts", I particularly recommend "Lynes of Pick-Up", "She's yonge, sexie & rich: interviewe wyth Parys" and "The Cipher of Leonardo".__________________________________Stalker Week update: read The Merchant's Tale! Or if you can't be bothered, at least answer my Quiz question about it.

  • Brian Levinson
    2019-02-25 13:34

    Look out, Bocaccio -- there's a new author of clever, bawdy rhyming tales, and his name is Geoffrey Chaucer! Whether you're a reeve, abbot, or just a simple canon's yeoman, you're sure to find something delightful in this witty, incisive collection. My personal favorites were the one about Chaunticleer the rooster and the one where the dude gets a red-hot poker shoved up his butt. I read it while I was laid up with the plague, and Chaucer's insouciant descriptions and intricate plotting helped immeasurably in my recuperation. The frequent bloodlettings prescribed by my barber-surgeon helped, too.Quick note: If you're illiterate, like nine-tenths of the population, this might not be the book for you.

  • Aubrey
    2019-03-06 14:30

    Right so bitwixe a titlelees tirauntAnd an outlaw or a theef erraunt,The same I seye: ther is no difference.To Alisaundre was toold this sentence,That, for the tirant is of gretter myghtBy force of meynee for to sleen dounright,And brennen hous and hoom, and make al playn,Lo, therfore is he cleped a capitayn;And for the outlawe hath but smal meynee,And may not doon so greet an harm as he,Ne brynge a contree to so greet mescheef,Men clepen hym an outlawe or a theef.If one ever took a look at my disaster of a degree progress report and skimmed down to the very bottom, they'd find the ten upper division English course I took/am taking in order to finally get my BA. What experimental woman's lit, postcolonial short stories, Milton, and the seven various others have in common is an adamant refusal to partake in the 1900s/American/20th century fill in the blanks that gestures at a general education and enacts little more than a cold and miserable hierarchy. In this brave new modernity of mine, what I am utterly sick of is the pretense pilled on pretense of This Is How It Is and This Is How It Has Always Been and This Is How It Will Always Be that chokes every field with the White Male Name. If you would claim science exempt, give up Newton and go back to the Golden Age of Islam and even further beyond to Greek-termed Persia and first-university South Asia and Morocco. I take a similar path through literature, as what's the use of an increasing glut of literature since the European colonial gaze unfolded if one insists that on the increasingly straight and narrow? The benefit of this is, the more you go back to that Middle English and that Old English and blood and bone not caught up in the people dead for centuries before one corner of the world thought to start calling them "white", the more it all starts to all fall apart. My interest lies in sharp edges of things that common sense would decry as nonexistent. Here, there be monsters.I used two editions of The Canterbury Tales for this university class. One came from sophomore year of high school, brought out again briefly for community college and, after this most recent stint, irretrievably marked up with notes and smudges and emoticons. The other's a library copy of what the school insists on charging three figures for, decent enough in the holistic sense but certainly not enough to justify that facet of the socioeconomic war on education. With each assigned section, I read the latter's Middle English first and the former's verse translation second, and if anyone tries to tell you that you must commit to the untranslated version in order to "really" have "read" The Canterbury Tales, laugh at them for me. It's that elitism and the "translated" version's elitism and every other branch of elitism other the sun that's ruining this admirable and hilarious and terrifying and gloriously informative text for everyone who's native language is not the monstrosity of French and Latin and German that's been masquerading as its own thing for little more than a millennium, not "the times". Seriously, what the fuck are "the times". If it means what I think it means, I'll trust that each and every elitist can wipe the floor with me when it comes to all ecclesiastical and narratological and cross-cultural frameworks caught up in this ridiculously unfinished work. If they do worse than me and my newfangled ideas about readers reading however they can, what's the point?What are The Canterbury Tales? They're a riddle. They're a hoot. They're powerful in their pictures of morality and dynamic in their interest in the marrow of things, what makes a Pardoner and what makes a Monk and how all of this may have sent us all to burn in hell if the Wife of Bath didn't really know her stuff. There are all the things the Church tells you and the men tell you and the satirists tell you, and then there are all the things that exist in texts inside and outside the lingo (English at this time was the slang of hicks and street urchins, and if you can't appreciate that you're going to have a hell of a time understanding what Chaucer was accomplishing. Not surpassing, mind you. That would've meant a pretentious forgetting of roots and no English as we know it for us) whose lack of copyright is less interesting than the Thousand and One Nights overtly trickling in from god knows where. There's faith, there's beauty, there're the ancient trails of antisemitism and Islamophobia that contemporary critics would do well to break out of their blinkered post-1980's state and analyze, and then there's the fact that Chaucer was a literal child of the Black Death. He'll play and play and question and question, savvy enough to both side-eye the misogynists and transition between the Shakespeare plays of Richard II and Henry IV, and then, at the end of it all, sink into the fear and doubt that we really all the pilgrims of his pre-Canterbury Knight's Tale, wandering in a world of woe. Life back then had its brilliance, barring the pall of the forthcoming Renaissance, but so did undrugged, unmedicated, unyielding death.I threw four figures of tuition at this work in order to get the eleven weeks and 50+ pages of notes necessary for my current level of appreciation, so if anyone can manage a tenth as much without that amount of monetary impetus, they're doing just fine. Don't bother with this if looking at it makes you feel pressured or frustrated in any sense of the word. I can tell you for a fact Chaucer would have watched the elitists carefully and made blowhard Friars out of them all. There's nothing he liked worse than the learned who refused to teach.Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote,The droghte of March hath perced to the roote,And bathed every veyne in swich licóurOf which vertú engendred is the flour;Whan Zephirus eek with his swete breethInspired hath in every holt and heethThe tendre croppes, and the yonge sonneHath in the Ram his halfe cours y-ronne,And smale foweles maken melodye,That slepen al the nyght with open ye,So priketh hem Natúre in hir corages,Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages,And palmeres for to seken straunge strondes,To ferne halwes, kowthe in sondry londes;And specially, from every shires endeOf Engelond, to Caunterbury they wende,The hooly blisful martir for to seke,That hem hath holpen whan that they were seeke.

  • Kyriakos Sorokkou
    2019-03-26 10:40

    WHAN that Aprille with his schowres swooteThe drought of Marche hath perced to the roote, And bathud every veyne in suich licour, Of which vertue engendred is the flour:What is The Canterbury TalesIt is the month of April, nature is fertile, the time when people fall in love, travel, and go on pilgrimages.Chaucer decided to go on a pilgrimage and he encountered in Tabard Inn 29 other people that were also going on a pilgrimage to Canterbury to visit the shrine of St Thomas Becket who was murdered inside the Canterbury Cathedral in 1170. T. S. Eliot's play Murder in the Cathedral is about his murder. The host (innkeeper) says that since the journey from London to Canterbury will be a long one in order to kill boredom they should say 4 stories each: 2 on their way to Canterbury and 2 on their way from Canterbury back to London. And the one who tells the best tale will win a free meal. That means 30 people x 4 stories each = 120 stories. But what we have is 24 stories running over 17000 lines and over 700 pages. Imagine how longer this piece of work would have been if in the end Chaucer had managed to complete it. At least 3000 pages. On the one hand I'm happy because it would have taken me 3 months to finish it, but on the other hand it's sad that this great piece of work is incomplete. The inspiration for this poem is obvious; The Decameron written by Giovanni Boccaccio 3-4 decades before The Canterbury Tales. Some say that Chaucer met Boccaccio in Italy and/or read the Decameron since many stories are more than similar and both works end with an apology. Both works also, became part of a trilogy by Pier Paolo Pasolini along with The Arabian NightsThe end of the Canterbury Tales is a sort of apology where Chaucer renounces the Tales and many of his previous works for the vulgar parts in these works and asking for forgiveness from Christ.An apology I feel he had to make in order to escape death or persecution (?) #religiousterrorI don't agree with him. Your works are great! Keep writing. Oh wait. . .The LanguageThe language is Middle English; the 2nd stage of the development of the English language after the first which is Old English (Beowulf) and before the 3rd which is Early Modern English (Shakespeare). The 4th stage is the English we use today. Even though I was reading this book in glossed Middle English with a lot of footnotes, as the time went by I got used to it and it became easier to read, much easier than Joyce's UlyssesI'm honest on this, trust me.And of course I learnt many 'new' words while reading this work:swyve=fuckwight=personqueynte=cunteek = alsowoot=knewIt is through his work that over 2000 English words were first attested in written manuscripts such as (mercenary, shelf, moral, award, vomit, and many more)My ExperienceAt the beginning I was scared because this isa) a long book and b) a long book written in Middle English. But as I said I got used to it and enjoyed it with one exception, The Parson's Tale, which wasn't a tale at all but a religious rant err... sermon on the seven deadly sins(with their many sub-branches) and really complex ways of how to repent, and when &c. Many stories where written as fabliaux (comic farces usually including sexual and scatological obsenities): The Miller's Tale, The Reeve's Tale, The Cook's Tale, The Merchant's TaleSome where chivalric romances: The Knight's Tale, The Squire's TaleSome where animal fables: The Nun's Priest's TaleBut let me stop here because this list won't end soon. . .So, do I recommend this book. No, for many reasons:a) It's poetry, and not many people read poetry let alone a 'poem' that runs around 700 pagesb) It's in Middle English so reading in Modern English or any other language will diminish the experience, unless you read it in Middle English which is tough for those who don't have a good level in English.c) It's long and needs time to be read.BUT, that being said, it certainly is a worthy piece of literature, written by the father of English Literature, Geoffrey Chaucer, and when you'll finish it you will feel that you crossed off one more thing from your bucket list.

  • Jonfaith
    2019-03-25 13:34

    A wife destroys her husband and contrives, As husbands know, the ruin of their livesMuch as the theme of estrangement dominates a thread of traditional songs, (see Wayfaring Stranger, Motherless Child etc) much of early Modern literature appears concerned with faithless brides and the looming spectre of cuckoldry. It is possible that I am full of shit in tall weeds, but that said, I do think that there is a link between the themes (alienation and infidelity) and that both are understood in terms of our ontological displacement. Such were my reasoned reactions to Canterbury Tales. My unreasoned ones amounted to observation: look there’s a rape, that’s a rape, that’s a pogrom, why would anyone’s daughter want to sleep with him etc, etc? I read this in translation into modern English and was impressed about the rhyme, especially between Flanders and extravagances: who can fault that? The Tales is a display of language's majesty.My grasp of Chaucer amounts to the author saying through his myriad voices -- much like Bill Nighy in Hitchhiker’s Guide: there really is no point, just keep busy

  • Lada Fleur
    2019-03-10 12:22

    Purifying tales of the best kind of pilgrimage trip to Thomas Becket tomb to Canterbury encompassing the best part of the english society, the most representative kind, apart from high nobility.The frame is the inn - traditional travel setting. They tell tales . All in their own manner, from their personality, and life's philosophy. Verse in iambic pentameter, which will become blankverse in Shakespere, Milton, Pope. Unforgettable Characters, and their tales. Wife of Bath, Prioress, The Second Nun, The Monk.The Pardoner.The Franklin, the Yeoman, The clerk The Knight, The young Squire. Tradition and the new trends in moving English societyThe Prologue is excellent. Set in April with new, a spring rain purifying Nature and the soul.The traditional medieval incipit with Chaucer-s private intention revalorised. All charecter and their tales in conformitzy to their class and station. Medieval society which is structured as an Indo-European three function system (G. Dumezil) Military, Religious, land-owning and the new emerging mercantile class Whan that Aprille with his shoures soughteThe drought of Marche has perced to the roteAn bathed every vein of swich licourof which veru engendered is the flour...Highly recommended

  • Chris
    2019-03-02 07:28

    One of the questions that people ask is why do we still read old books? What's so great about them anyway? My brother asked me this after I was shocked that he hadn't read Canterbury Tales. I undoubtably get the same shocked expression when I hear someone hasn't read over a dozen other things. So why should we read Canterbury Tales? Well, I suppose the technical answer would be because each tale represents a style or type of writing. The collection is different forms that were popular in the day, making it some type of historical document (at least, according to my local bookstores if their shelving is anything to go by).Okay, I hear the no name complainer say, that's good for you English people, but I only take English because they make me. Why should I read it?Because it is the funniest thing in the whole world! You have farting! You think The BFG started it? You're wrong! Chaucer used the funny fart long before. It has sex! There's lots of sex! Everything is having sex! Okay, not everything, but even the chickens. There's chickens! There's marriage! There's love! There's fighting! There's the Wife of Bath! She is awesome. Who doesn't like the Wife? Even Shrek! knows the Wife of Bath. There's the second flood (maybe)! There's a knight, who to believe Terry Jones, isn't as honorable as he thinks he is. See, there is a Monty python connection! There's May/December romance! Canterbury Tales is one of those works of literature that is going to last simply because it is about the truth. True, you have very dated tales, such as the Nun, but there are also tales that are still current today, that would make good television even. Chaucer, like Shakespeare and Dickens, speaks to the human condition. He shows use that such speaking isn't a late idea, but started well before we think it did.I also think people should read it aloud so we can all sound like the Swedish Chef.

  • Alan
    2019-03-06 07:21

    English literature is downhill from Chaucer. Even as a Shakespeare scholar, I would argue this, since there are several characters in Chaucer who are as if live: The Wif of Bath, the Pardoner, the Host, the Canon's Yeoman, and a half dozen others, at least. Shakespeare's characters, on the other hand, are all stagey, bigger than life, infused with the stage. Or so it seems to me. Chaucer's Wif even makes colloquial grammar mistakes when she self-consciously describes what men like about women's bodies, such as "hire [their] armes smalle."Various characters display their human failings just like someone you meet in a bar, or at a family picnic: the Miller, in his prolog, "That I am drunke, I know it by my soun," then philosophizes, "An housband shall not been inquisitif/ Of goddes privite, nor of his wife." One of the best heroic couplets in all of English lit. Another philosopher is cut down to size by the Host; when Osewold the Reeve begs off telling a tale, "But ik am oold, me list not play for age," the Host replies,"What shul we speke alday of hooly writ?/ The devel made a reve for to preche." Chaucer is outright, laugh-aloud funny, even in describing himself. The Host remarks how Chaucer as a pilgrim is staring at the ground while riding (shy?) and that he has a pot-belly like the Host himself. Chaucer gives himself the worst of the CT; he tells a memorized tale, which the Host interrupts as he would now interrupt rap, "This may we be rym doggerel"--this is doggerel!As for Chaucer's superiority to all of English lit that follows, I would argue the same for Erasmus and H.S. education: Erasmus's Colloquiae, especially his Adulescens et Scortum, puts modern education books to shame. He wrote it for adolescent males, to teach them Latin, and it does this with a discussion between a prostitute and and a (High School-age) boy who's just been to Rome and reformed.Admonition: Both Chaucer and Erasmus write essentially in a foreign language, the Middle English of1390 being much closer to French--which in fact was used in Courts of Law in England for yet another century. Its traces remain: "defendant, attorney, assizes, voir dire," etc.

  • Alp Turgut
    2019-03-01 10:48

    Boccacio’nun başyapıtı "Decameron"un izinden giderek 24 hikayeyi okuyucuya sunan Geoffrey Chaucer’ın efsanevi eseri "The Canterbury Tales / Canterbury Hikayeleri", son hikayeye kadar okuyucuyu eğlendirmesini bilen kesinlikle okunması gereken edebi eserlerin başında geliyor. İngiliz edebiyatının “babası” kabul edilmesinin yanında Chaucer’ın hikayeleri aynı Homeros ve Virgil gibi destansı şiir yoluyla okuyucuya sunmasıyla bir nevi saygı duruşunu andıran eserde Canterbury’e giden 24 yolcunun yolculuk sırasında birbirlerine anlattığı hikayeler bulunuyor. Chaucer’ın yalın ama bir o kadar süslü diliyle anlattığı hikayelerin esin kaynaklarından birkaçını İncil’de anlatılan hikayeler ve Ezop Masalları, Ovidius’un "Metamorfoz" başyapıtı ve Boccacio’nun "Decameron" hikayeleri oluşturuyor. Bu yüzden "Canterbury Hikayeleri"ni okumadan bu eserli okumanın kesinlikle önemli olduğuna inanıyorum. Eserin en sevdiğim bölümü ise Chaucer’ın karakterinin anlattığı Melivee Hikayesi oldu. Öte yandan, kitabın son kısmını oluşturan Vaiz’in Hikayesi bölümündeki oldukça uzun vaaz kısmı kitabın o muhteşem havasının bir anda kaybolmasına neden oluyor. Açıkçası tamamiyle dinsel öğütlerden oluşan son bölümü okurken oldukça zorlandığımı belirtmeliyim. Buna rağmen her edebiyat severin kesinlikle okumasını önerdiğim kitaptan sonra öncesinde yaşanan Haçlı Seferleri döneminde yaşananlar okuyucuya daha anlaşılır geliyor. Son bölümü bir kenara bırakırsak başyapıt olarak adlandırabileğim kitabı okuduktan sonra mutlaka Pier Pasolini’nin aynı adlı uyarlamasını izlemeyi unutmayın. Tam notum: 4,5/İstanbul, TürkiyeAlp Turgut

  • Mark Adderley
    2019-03-07 09:47

    This might be not only the worst translation of Chaucer, but the worst translation of anything ever written.First of all, there shouldn't be translations of Chaucer. Much of Chaucer's meaning comes through the language he uses. Take away the language, and what's left is no longer Chaucer. I can see an argument for translating Chaucer into German, French, Italian, Tagalog, whatever. But into Modern English--that's insulting.If you can't read Chaucer's Middle English, just skip The Canterbury Tales. If you really REALLY want to read it, struggle with the Middle English for about an hour. After that, you'll be fine. I'd highly recommend either the Riverside Chaucer (complete works in a scholarly edition) or the Norton Critical text of the Tales, which has marginal glosses and footnotes to explain the meanings of words and provide historical information.It's frustrating, though, when a translation is so far from the original meaning of the text that it seems the translator is really writing his or her own poem. This was what was frustrating about Seamus Heaney's translation of Beowulf and Simon Armitage's of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Here, though, there was at least some system in place, an overriding philosophy dictating the changes each translator made to his text. Raffel seems to just delight in misleading the reader. Take the opening lines. Chaucer wrote, "Whan that Aprill with his shoures soote, / The droughte of March hath perced to the roote." Famous lines. Raffel's rendering: "When April arrives, and with his sweetned showers / Drenches dried-up roots, gives them power." No mention of March; "dried-up" hardly conveys the same sense as "drought." Later on, Raffel describes the Squire as having "ridden with his father, on cavalry raids / In Flanders, Artois, and Picardy." Chaucer does not say that the Squire rode with his father, the Knight, on any campaigns at all. In fact, the battles fought by the Knight and Squire contrast--where the Knight had ridden on Crusades, the Squire had taken part in the Hundred Years' War. This important piece of characterization is entirely omitted in Raffel's translation.Anything worth doing is worth taking time over. Chaucer's language is worth learning. This type of short-cut is a travesty. If you're reading it for pleasure, be aware that you're NOT reading Chaucer; if you're reading it in class, transfer to another class--your professor doesn't know what he's doing.

  • Trish
    2019-03-19 12:19

    If you've never read Chaucer in original medieval English, I definitely suggest you give it a go. It is such a satisfying experience and loads of fun to decode and demystify (you usually uncover something dirty or obscene). If the challenges of translation aren't for you, pick up a translated copy. You can have all the fun without the work.

  • BAM The Bibliomaniac
    2019-02-24 10:34

    2018 Reading Challenge: an allegoryThe Rory Gilmore Challenge Ok imma gonna tackle this classic. I’m fairly certain I cheated on this test in high school.My only regret is that the copy I read had no grand explanatory introduction or any footnotes to help understand the political intrigues Chaucer hid in his writing. My copy did not have a barcode, so I just picked one. I should have bought the one in the photo.

  • Alex
    2019-03-19 07:39

    Like two other Medieval landmarks, the Decameron and 1001 Nights, the Canterbury Tales are a collection of short stories drawn together by a framing story. In this case it’s a group of pilgrims from all different parts of society, and they’re telling stories to pass the time on their way to Canterbury to visit the shrine of Saint Thomas Becket. Here he is getting killed:Fatality!Chaucer only managed to finish 23 of a planned 120 stories, so that’s actually a pretty bad job; his big innovation was that the 23 he did finish created real, distinct characters representing a cross-section of society. The hypocritical religious figure the Pardoner, who’s basically running a protection racket for the soul - and we can see in him how jaded people have gotten about organized religion - the drunken Miller, who tells one of several lengthy fart jokes; and of course the Wife of Bath, Chaucer’s greatest creation. don't want no scrubsShe’s looking for her sixth husband; she cheerfully admits to using sex to get what she wants; she has a dim view of men except as a means to an end.By God! if women hadde written stories,As clerkes han withinne hire oratories,They wolde han writen of men moore wikkednesse Than all the mark of Adam may redresse.What she’s saying is that men control the narrative; when it’s her turn to speak she has a lot to say. There are also, as mentioned, a number of fart jokes. The Miller's Tale contains perhaps history's first description of analingus as Absalon "kissed [this one lady's] naked arse, most savorously." The Summoner's Tale is an examination of the age-old question of how to divide a fart into twelve parts. Don't worry, they figure it out.

  • Shahram Keivani
    2019-03-03 13:43

    بلاخره بعد از مدتی طولانی کتاب را به پایان رساندم. البته این مدت نسبتا زیاد برای خواندن این کتاب پانصد صفحه ای دو دلیل داشت. یکی از دلایل این بود که با وجود اینکه کتاب به زبان انگلیسی مدرن ترجمه شده بود ولی باز اصطلاحات مسیحی و تلمیح های بسیار فراوانش بسیار وقتگیر بودند و دلیل دوم اینکه چون فضای کتاب در مورد حماقت های مردم ساده در دوران تسلط کلیسا و سو استفاده های کشیشان و سران قدرت مذهبی از ایشان است بعضی وقت ها به جایی می کشید که نمی توانستم جلوی خنده ی خودم را بگیرم و برای اینکه بیشتر عذاب نکشم برای یک هفته می رفتم هواخوری! جفری چوسر آدمی مذهبی بود ولی از آن مذهبی هایی که به سو استفاده ی مذهب از مردم واقف بود و آن را به باد تمسخر و نکوهش می گرفت. کسانی که می خواهند حماقت قرون وسطایی را در آخرین دوره های حیاتش یعنی پیش از رنسانس را بهتر درک کنند این کتاب به شدت پیشنهاد می شود.شاید بسیاری از خوانندگان، این کتاب را کتابی مذهبی بدانند ولی سخت در اشتباهند. این کتاب بیشتر نقد مذهب است. در گوشه گوشه ی داستان هایی که از زبان زائران نقل میشود زن ستیزی فریاد میزند. فساد در بین کشیش ها و آمرزندگان گناه بیداد می کند. زن را تا مرتبه ای تنزل می دهند که او را جز برده ای جنسی که تنها هدفش ارضای مرد است نمی بینند. زن نماد خیانت و هوسرانی و خباثت و ولخرجی است. کشیش ها مردم را به سوی پرهیز از ریاکاری سوق می دهند در حالی که خودشان به ریاکاری خود اعتراف می کنند.در کل این کتاب برای کسانی که می خواهند هرچه بیش تر تاثیر مخرب مذهب افراطی را بر جامعه درک کنند بسیار منبع خوبی است.شاید اگر کسی از حال و روز مردمان امروز ایران بنویسد چندین قرن بعد به جفری چوسر آیندگان تبدیل شود "Who painted first the lion, tell me who?By God, if women had but written stories,As have these clerks within their oratories,They would have written of men more wickednessThan all the race of Adam could redress."

  • Matt
    2019-03-06 06:45

    The Canterbury Tales is preachy, hard to read, and for the most part, pretty boring. I feel like I've been in the iambic pentameter wave pool. This is a book that I have wanted to knock off my reading bucket list. I wish I had enjoyed this more but most of it failed to hold my attention and I mainly just wanted it to be over while I was reading it. Chaucer is considered to be maybe the 2nd best English poet behind Shakespeare, and he did have some moments of brilliance in this collection. The Prioress's Tale was absolutely wonderful, The Miller's Tale is memorable for its bawdiness, but the rest for me just honestly weren't that great. I wanted to like this more and I'm disappointed in myself for not getting it. P.S. Pay attention in English class kids! The Canterbury Tales is primarily written in iambic pentameter. There is some prose toward the end which was a nice change of pace.

  • Jess
    2019-03-14 10:32

    I only read four tales from this, since those were what were assigned for my class. What I read wasn't too terrible, but I don't exactly have a perfect judgement since I didn't get to read the entirety of the novel.

  • Hayat
    2019-03-23 12:36

    I've read this book years ago and really enjoyed it but forgot to update after joining GR so I'm adding it now. I can't wait to reread The Canterbury Tales in the future and also try out Geoffry Chaucer's other works.

  • Mohammad Ali
    2019-03-27 09:24

    صریح و بی حاشیه باید اذعان کنم مجموعه ای است که خیلی خوب باشد متوسط است. البته این حرف با نظر به ترجمه است شاید ظرافت های زبانی اصل اثر قضاوت را بهتر کند - که البته بعد می دانم وقتی برسد که سراغ متن انگلیسی میانه ی آن بروم. خیلی از داستان ها در واقع داستان منسجمی نیستند یا پندند یا شیرین کاری یا شکایت یا اموری از این دست. کمتر داستانی هست که در عین داشتن داستانی استوار، اخلاقی یا طنز یا طعنه آمیز یا ... باشد. بگذریم که چند داستانی را چاسر خود نیمه تمام رها کرده استمترجم انگلیسی، لومیانسکی، - که مبنای این ترجمه فارسی است - سه داستان را تلخیص و در واقع به شدت تلخیص کرده - در حد یک صفحه یا کمتر : داستان دوم چاسر، داستان راهب ( ذکر یک داستان از 17 تا ) و داستان کشیش بخشنکته ی جالب در این میان طعنه های فراوان به اهل مذهب و دین در عین حفظ اصل ایمان است. این برای کسانی خوب است که گمان می کنند قرون وسطی همه در آن دوران سیاه تفتیش عقاید اسپانیا خلاصه می شود - البته درست است که چاسر در قرون پایانی قرون وسطی است اما مگر انکیزاسیون در همین قرون پایانی نبود؟ در این کتاب انگی یافت نمی شود که به اهل کلیسا یا به علما و راهبه ها و درویشان مسیحی زده نشود: از امور جنسی گرفته تا فساد مالی و سوء استفاده های مذهبی. به نظرم این کتاب بیشتر از آنکه جنبه ی داستانی اش پررنگ باشد به درد مطالعات فرهنگ عامیانه می خورد. اشارات یهودسیتز و زن ستیز در این کتاب که البته اولی تنها یک جا اما دومی اینجا و آنجا وجود دارد، آزاردهنده است؛ حتی آنجاهایی که حرف از رهایی زن از چنگال مرد می شود زن بیشتر مثل درنده خویی است که تحمل زندانی شدن را ندارد و نه انسانی که به دنبال آزادی است. البته چاسر گاهی حرف های تعدیل کننده ای می زند اما تأثیر کلیت اثر را عوض نمی کندمن ترجیح می دادم کتاب های مرجع چاسر برای این داستان ها را بخوانم تا این کتاب را - چه آثار ایتالیایی ها و ... و چه آثار قبلی خود چاسر. شاید آنجاها جنبه ی داستانی پررنگ تر باشد و استوارترداستان های بهتر و جالب تر به نظرم اینها هستند: داستان ملوان، داستان آمرزش فروش، داستان کدخدا و داستان ملاک

  • anique Halliday
    2019-03-02 07:41

    I really love this collection of stories. Who didn't love the Wife of Bath? Or the Friar (a timely parable all Priests and Pastor should read). I loved The Canterbury Tales so much that I memorized the prologue in Old Middle English (and can still partially recite it)... "Whan that Aprille with his shoures soteThe droghte of Marche hath perced to the rote,And bathed every veyne in swich licourOf which vertu engendred is the flour,Whan Zephirus eek with his sweete breethInspired hath in every holt and heethThe tendre croppes, and the yonge sonneHath in the Ram his half cours y-ronneAnd smale foweles maken melodye,That slepen al the nyght with open yë(So priketh hem nature in hir corages),Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages,And palmeres for to seken straunge strondes,To ferne halwes, couthe in sondry londes;And specially from every shires endeOf Engelond to Caunterbury they wende..."

  • Michael
    2019-02-25 10:26

    The Canterbury Tales is a collection of over 20 stories which were written near the end of the Fourteenth Century, just prior to 1400. While this is often referred to as an essential in medieval fiction, it is possible to narrow it down a little further and say this is a glimpse of life during the time of the Hundred Years’ War. The collection of tales helps break up this book a bit but it also contains a loose narrative framework throughout the entire The Canterbury Tales. I could go into deep analysis of each tale without doing a disservice to the quality and diversity of Geoffrey Chaucer’s large work. However in an effort to talk about The Canterbury Tales in its entirety, I may have to resort to broad analysis and generalities.The Fourteenth Century was a violent and unstable period of time in English history; not only was the Hundred Years War raging with the French (1340-1450) but there was the Black Death (1348), famines and rebellions (the Peasant’s Revolt of 1381). This was an unstable time, things were changing; even the Catholic Church which often had a community-building nature was corrupt and abusing its power. Near the end of the 14th Century the Church was a mess, there was the sale of church offices as well as indulgences and pardons as well as greed and moral corruption. The Western Schism (or Papal Schism) took place from 1378 to 1418 where the Church was divided and several men simultaneously claimed to be the true pope. This should give you an idea of just what kind of instability the people in The Canterbury Tales faced.However this book explored more than this instability; it is a medieval tapestry exploring the whole feel of this period but it might be easier to narrow it down to three major themes. The political, since The Norman conquest of England (1066) the country was gradually processing toward political consolidation and unification, a theme that comes through a number of times within this book. Social and economic changes, following the story of many people around England as urbanisation takes affect and London becomes a more modern city. Finally The Canterbury Tales explores the cultural changes of a changing time; social classes are shifting but still play a big role within this country.I know I am probably looking at this book through modern eyes but this is the best way I found to wrap my head around what is written. Luckily I didn’t have to read this book in Middle English and got to rely on Nevill Coghill’s translation but I am not going to deny that this was a very difficult book to get through. I found trying to understand the situation as if England changed from medieval into a modern society helped me pick up on the social, economical and political changes. I know London didn’t become an urban city like we know it today but it helped me follow the shifting times. I am not sure if viewing the book this way helped me understand it better or sent me down the wrong path but it doesn’t matter, is there a right or wrong way to interpret literature?Symbolism, imagery and allegory play a huge part in Chaucer’s tales but it is hard to go into details on this topic because they change from story to story. What I found surprising about this book is not the beautiful poetic lines but how real and raw the emotions played out in each tales. I read an exploration into marriage, growing old, morality, rape, sexual pleasure and even anti-social behaviour. I never expected this from the book and it really surprised me. From a general overview The Canterbury Tales looks at a changing time but each tale goes into a personal look into different people’s lives.As the narrator, Geoffrey Chaucer plays with the narrative from tale to tale; sometimes he comes off as naïve but then he can be very knowledgeable. I picked up on how heavy he is on the irony, but in all honesty I didn’t have enough knowledge of the times to be able to explore this as much as I would have liked. If it wasn’t for the fact that I read this for a university subject I might have really struggled with this book. A lecture and some reading guides really helped me get something out of this book but like I said, I don’t have enough knowledge of medieval history to fully grasp this book in its entirety.I mentioned to my dad that I had to read this book and he told me not to bother; he called it crude and vulgar but that only made me excited. I understand now that he had to read this book for high school and found it difficult but I can’t say vulgar is a good word to describe this book. Sure, there are some crude scenes but life is never full of well-mannered moral people. Chaucer explores life at this time and doesn’t shy away from the tough topics; but I think that is what makes this book so great.This review originally appeared on my blog:

  • Amy
    2019-02-25 11:22

    Well, thank goodness that is finally done. With all due respect to the age and popularity of this book and the talent of the voice actors, I kind of want to throw this one across the room. I don't think there was ever a point where I sat back and thought, 'I'm really enjoying this one.' But I didn't hate it, necessarily. I just didn't enjoy it. It certainly has shock value!

  • Jason Pettus
    2019-03-24 08:34

    (Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography []. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.)The CCLaP 100: In which I read for the first time a hundred so-called "classics," then write reports on whether or not they deserve the labelEssay #44: The Canterbury Tales (~1380-1400), by Geoffrey ChaucerThe story in a nutshell:Written in stops and starts from roughly 1380 to 1400, Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales takes as its framing device an event that was common during its Late Medieval times, but that no one had ever thought of doing a story collection about before -- it's set among a group of unrelated tourists, making a pilgrimage from southern London to the Cathedral of Canterbury (one of the most important Christian sites in England, and home of that country's oldest Archbishop), during which the tour organizer suggests a story competition to while away their time, the winner of which will receive a free dinner at the end of their trip, and with the stories themselves bouncing from chivalrous tales by the nobility to pious tales by the clergy, to bawdy tales from the commoners present. (Although be aware that over 80 slightly different handwritten versions of this book exist from the century following Chaucer's death, because of movable type still technically not existing yet, none of which are in Chaucer's original hand, making it impossible to determine the stories' true original order; and in fact we don't even know whether the infamously "unfinished" tales are in that state accidentally, or were done on purpose by Chaucer as a sly joke about how boring they are.)And indeed, this is what made the Tales so widely reproduced and passionately loved once printing presses did finally make it to England, a century after Chaucer's death, for being clever to the point sometimes of laugh-out-loud funny, and with it not just being a story collection but no less than a grand satire of all the different ways stories were even told back then. Don't forget, before the rise of "Modern English" during the Early Renaissance, there were actually a dozen different types of "Middle English" used throughout the country, each of them with their own idioms and slightly different grammar rules, all of which Chaucer manages to ape at one point or another; and of course don't forget the already mentioned differing expectations among social classes of what stories were even supposed to be about, not to mention the sometimes even different language that existed between the rich and the poor, making this one of the first times in English history that a writer makes fun of specific groups by creating puns out of their local dialect. (Just to cite one good example, among the nobility, to "take pity" meant a selfless act of sympathy, while among the lower classes it was slang for having sex, a double-entrendre that Chaucer makes great use of in his book.) Less an interesting literary story and more an interesting literary exercise, The Canterbury Tales profoundly helped shape not only the modern English language we use today, but how we even think of the proper role and structure of the narrative format in general.The argument for it being a classic:The ways that this single volume has had an impact on society is almost innumerable, say its fans, the most important being many of the things already mentioned -- how by being one of the first books to be widely printed and distributed during the Renaissance, for example, it not only became the very first English "bestseller," but profoundly helped spread and normalize the use of so-called "chancery standard," the form of English invented by the government's then-burgeoning civil service, of which Chaucer was a well-paid veteran his entire adult life. (In fact, Chaucer in many ways was a precursor to the fabled "Renaissance Man" just around the historical corner -- he was a well-educated master of not only language but also math and proto-science, even while being an accomplished politician, office manager and sociologist.) Then there's the fact that Chaucer subverted the very way that stories were even told, bypassing the usual pecking order of the Middle Ages (in which it was expected that knights go first in all public endeavors, from telling stories to using the bathroom, then priests, then aristocrats, then merchants, then laborers, etc), mixing up his own story order between high-class and low-class tales and often having them be angry reactions to the story just told, ironically making this an early example of our modern notion of moral relativity; and by consciously inserting witty "fourth wall" references to the act of writing itself -- including the aforementioned "unfinished" stories that may or may not be deliberate jokes, as well as making himself an actual character in his own book, albeit a self-deprecatory version of himself who is often berated by the rest of the group for being a nerdy, unimaginative bookworm -- Chaucer also turns in a fine early example of metafictional postmodernism, only half a millennium before the term was first invented. And on top of all this, say its fans, it's simply an entertaining manuscript, full of fart jokes and pointed barbs at both corrupt clergy and dumb white-trash, the final element in the equation for elevating a book from merely "important" to a full "classic."The argument against:There's really only one main argument against this book that you see online, a huge problem that stops its haters from even reading it and coming up with other criticisms, which is the dense, obtuse Middle English that the original is written in, an outdated form of the language that literally hasn't been used in 600 years now; and indeed, you are in for a chore if you try to read the book this way yourself, despite your pretentious friend's insistence that Middle English is easy to follow once you "get the hang of it." (Liars! LIARS!) But I myself happened to read a modern translation of the book, making this criticism not really applicable to my specific review.My verdict:So yes, it's important to know that I read a modern translation of The Canterbury Tales, which I'm sure has purists foaming at the mouth even as we speak; and I gotta plainly admit, I highly recommend that you do the same unless you're specifically studying Middle English, in that otherwise you won't even have a chance of getting the full gist of what Chaucer is trying to say. If you do read the modern version, then, like me you'll realize that its fans are correct, that this is a much smarter and more contemporary book than what you thought could ever be accomplished during its time period, which as a side benefit offers a treasure trove of supplemental information about such period events as the 1381 Peasant's Revolt, the Great Schism of the Catholic Church, the Hundred Years' War and the invention of tree-based paper. (Of course, this then brings up the question we often seem to be debating among older titles here, of whether a book can truly be called a "classic" if it requires a week of homework beforehand to even understand what's going on; and along those lines, I highly recommend doing a close reading of this book's long Wikipedia entry before tackling the manuscript itself.) It really is surprising to see how readable and sometimes even lowbrow filthy this book actually gets at points; and although a little of this stuff goes a long way (I only read about half the book myself, then read simple recaps of the second half as a way of "finishing"), it's also an unexpected delight, and about the closest you'll get to a book this old still feeling fresh and relatable. Like most pre-Victorian books being reviewed in this series, it comes with a limited recommendation only, and I'll warn you that you need to strongly be in the mood to read this book in order to actually read this book; but certainly I think it's safe to call The Canterbury Tales a classic, a designation I don't envision it losing for a long, long time.Is it a classic? Yes(And don't forget that the first 33 essays in this series are now available in book form!)

  • Everyman
    2019-03-17 10:21

    Okay, so the language is a bit strange, you don't understand all the words, but go with it. Don't read it in a modernization and miss all of Chaucer's magnificent language (and much of his sly humor). You'll get used to it pretty soon, I promise you. And if you have any musicality in your soul, the cadences and richness of his imagery will captivate you.If you thought the 14th century was prudish about its language and strict about its morality, you're in for a shock. Chaucer's richness includes plenty of chivalry and romance, but there's also a good helping of down and dirty sex. His characters are memorable, his stories are fascinating, his appeal is universal.That's Chaucer the teller of tales, and the best reason to read Chaucer -- he's just plain fun. But there's a serious literary reason to read him, too. Chaucer was the first major writer to write in a vernacular English that we can read and understand today. (When you think about it, it's astonishing that language has changed so little in 600-plus years.) He has been credited by some with essentially inventing the English language, and while that's a bit of an exaggeration, it's not much of one. His influence on English poetry is immense -- when you read him you're reading the start of English poetry, the man who set the stage for Milton, Shakespeare, Wordsworth, and on and on. So whether you read him primarily to understand and appreciate his immense importance to English language and literature, or whether you read him for pure pleasure, or whether in the best of all possible worlds you read him for both reasons, doesn't matter. As long as you do read him.

  • Karin
    2019-03-14 09:37

    There is a reason that this has survived for centuries, but it's not anything that made me consistently enjoy these tales. To be sure, did like some of them, but honestly much of the humour was too bawdy for my tastes. There were some brilliant moments of farce, some funny witticims and references (in one of the last tales he had a funny anachronistic bit where quotes Plato referring to Jesus Christ, even though Plato lived several hundred years prior to Jesus, and if you've read enough Plato, you will appreciate the jest more.There is comedy, tragedy, parable telling and much more. I have to agree with the person who wrote the blurb on the back cover of the copy I read, that this is "Drawn from all lovels of society and all walks of life...a picture of English life in the fourteenth century..." However, it's also evident that many forms of humour prevail throughout the centuries, once you get past the poetry (not all in the couplets you see so much of, especially in the first part of this), then language (even in the English translation I read) and the overly-long (to contemporary readers) speeches, and that human nature remains much the same. To be sure, we are less likely to refer to Greek and Roman gods, not as many of us follow astrology, we are well past knowing anyone who seriously contemplates alchemy as a science. We are also far less likely to paint the portraits of very nearly perfect people to hold up as examples of excellent behaviour.As you can see, overall I didn't like this.