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The Canterbury Tales

3.48  ·  Rating Details  ·  148,954 Ratings  ·  2,385 Reviews
The Canterbury Tales, by Geoffrey Chaucer, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classicsseries, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:

New introductions commissioned from
Paperback, 912 pages
Published March 1st 2007 by Barnes & Noble Classics (first published 1390)
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Lawrence Hi, Mohanan. I just saw your questions. I''m not sure what you mean by "oneness". But I do feel close to the pilgrims because I see them a people..…moreHi, Mohanan. I just saw your questions. I''m not sure what you mean by "oneness". But I do feel close to the pilgrims because I see them a people.. Such is Chaucer's art. But also the work has unity that is created by the "tale"" of the pilgrims that is told between the "Tales". As to your second questions, I think that our concentration should focus on the work itself as a story. The reason is that, no matter its language or historical context, it is a living work of art. In this sense,, it is modern. As for the language and historical context, they are a means to understanding the Tales as a work of art.(less)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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MJ Nicholls
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 ...more
Jul 30, 2008 Rebecca rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
I'm gonna start texting in Chaucer's English.

*declares war on abbreviation*

"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 tells
The 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 me
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 do
Brian Levinson
Jun 17, 2007 Brian Levinson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 i ...more
Aug 21, 2015 Jonfaith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A wife destroys her husband and contrives,
As husbands know, the ruin of their lives

Much 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
Aug 22, 2014 Lada rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 N ...more
Right so bitwixe a titlelees tiraunt
And 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 myght
By 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
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
Feb 08, 2016 Alex rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: rth-lifetime
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:


Chaucer only managed to finish 23 of a planned 120 stories, so that’s actually a pretty bad job; his big innovation wa
Mohammad Ali

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 است

مترجم انگلیسی، لومیانسکی، - که
Mark Adderley
Mar 12, 2010 Mark Adderley rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: nobody whatsoever.
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 Tale
Jan 07, 2016 Hayat rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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 ...more
anique Halliday
Mar 03, 2010 anique Halliday rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, classics
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 sote
The droghte of Marche hath perced to the rote,
And bathed every veyne in swich licour
Of which vertu engendred is the flour,
Whan Zephirus eek with his sweete breeth
Inspired hath in every hol
Entire literary journals are dedicated to the works of Chaucer, so it's hard to know how to say anything worthwhile about his most famous book. I'll settle for making some simple observations about a couple of the facets of the work I personally enjoyed: its form and authorial voice.

The Tales' format, famously modeled on Boccaccio's Decameron, has a frame narrative into which the discrete tales fit. Instead of plague-fleers, Chaucer's storytellers are a motley crew of pilgrims on their way to Ca
Jason Pettus
(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 label

Essay #44: The Canterbury Tales (~1380-1400), by Geoffrey Chaucer

The story in a nutshell:
Written in stops and starts from roughly 1380 to 1400, Geoffrey Chaucer's Th
Dec 06, 2007 Katie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this in Middle English, so it was extremely challenging, but well worth the extra effort. The "Canturbury Tales" are a collection of stories, all but two of which, were written in verse. In the framing story, 24 pilgrims are on their way from Southwark to Canturbury to visit the Saint Thomas Becket shrine at Canturbury Cathedral. When they stop along the way, they entertain the group with tales, some serious, some hilarious, some racy, some satirical, and some laced with religious themes. ...more
Sandra Bašić
Oct 06, 2015 Sandra Bašić rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Short stories well written! They turned me back time 'cause believe it or not - once I was a kid also :)
Simple sentences and simple modern language which I really enjoyed it!
Sue Smith
Dec 03, 2015 Sue Smith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's been a while since I've been on Goodreads - a good 6 months anyways - and I've got a lot of catching up to do! So all my reviews from this point on this year will be short and sweet reflections.

I decided to pick up The Canterbury tales because of a perverse need to read the classics. Not all the time, mind. Just enough to make me realize that they're better read in a group - preferably with someone who gets it.

But I will admit that I was pleasantly - and happily - surprised, as this adapta
Oct 17, 2015 Ellie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
Ο Τσώσερ, προγενέστερος του Σαιξπηρ, με πρόφαση ένα ταξιδι 30 περίπου ατόμων προκειμένου να προσκυνησουν στον καθεδρικό ναό του Καντέρμπερυ το λέιψανο του αρχιεπισκόπου Τόμας Μπέκετ, στήνει ένα γαϊτανάκι ιστοριών που διηγείται καθένας απο τους προσκυνητές, σχολιάζοντας τα ήθη της κοινωνίας και τον τρόπο ζωής κατά τον 14ο αιώνα στην Αγγλία, επιλέγοντας να παρουσιάσει πρόσωπα και ιστορίες απο διάφορα επαγγέλματα και τάξεις της αγγλικης ζωής. Γραμμένο σε έμμετρο λόγο και δη αγγλικά μεσαιωνικά, αποτ ...more
May 31, 2016 Alan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Jan 29, 2011 Judy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I need to get back to this half-read book - don't know why haven't I finished it, as it's quite entertaining....

Update Jan 2011: Finished! There's little that I can add to the appreciative reviews of this charming work, apart from observing that you you don't need to know anything about the historical context (late 14th-century England) to enjoy the collection.

Anyone who loves stories and the whole idea of storytelling will get a buzz from the Tales - they are packaged within the framework of a
Michael Kneeland
Harold Bloom makes a strong case that Shakespeare gave us the fullest depictions of humanity before or since the Elizabethan era, and though I agree with him, I cannot discount Chaucer's influence on the Bard. (And to be fair, neither does Bloom.) Consider how the Pardoner is a template for Iago; how the Wife of Bath's wit and filthy mind uncannily reflect those of Falstaff; how two young men struggle over a young lady under the supervision of an Athenian duke named Theseus, much as occurs in 'M ...more
Robyn Blaber
I don't think I've ever felt more humbled while reading a book. Of course I had read some of these tales as a schoolboy, but really hadn't the education to understand what I was reading. Chaucer's characters are so varied in style and spirit, yet with great ease manage to drop references from Solomon to Ovid, Catullus to Cato, Boethius to Dante and sometimes all within a single paragraph.

How can it be that some fellow from the Dark Ages could be better read than my modern self? How is it possibl
Erika B. (SOS BOOKS)
Apr 18, 2016 Erika B. (SOS BOOKS) rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classic
Chaucer. Geoffrey Chaucer. The writer. He's just so darn cheeky. I wasn't immediately in love with the Canterbury Tales, but as time went on I really started to like them. They are definitely conversation starters. I can't even begin to talk about all of the subjects we have covered in my grad class. I also have come to love Middle English. It really does have a beautiful lyrical sound to it. In honor of Chaucer, I feel like I should end this by retracting what I said. I didn't really write this ...more
Not bad, I spose. But I should have read the modern translation instead of trying to struggle through the Middle English version, which is just close enough to modern English to be readable, but far enough away to require footnotes every five words just to help the reader figure out what the hell they just read. After twenty pages or so, this got very, very old.

Read for: Early British Literature
John Yelverton
Granted, this is arguably the very first piece of English literature, but that just goes to show you why all skills must be practiced first.
Jan 25, 2015 Lorena rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Few years ago I read the Decameron of Giovanni Boccaccio, and while reading the Canterbury Tales I felt like I was back in time. I really enjoy reading the Medieval books, the romantic ones with the well known chivalry style, and noble characters.

On the contrary, Decameron and The Canterbury Tales represent more the "measly" middle ages. Thus the plague, the peasantry, the religious dogmas, and the real life of people from each degree such as the religious ones, nobles, and knights.

It is neces
Jun 18, 2009 DeAnne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've read both the Middle English (original) version and a few of the translated versions, and I've decided to go back to the original and revisit some of my favorite stories. The Tales, like Don Quixote, are one of those works that I'm *always* reading. They are lifetime books, in that there is always something new there, some nuance I've previously overlooked, some linguistic trick, some emotional capture...always something. Always. It is, I believe, probably one of the finest things ever writ ...more
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  • Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
  • Arthurian Romances
  • The Lais of Marie de France
  • The Decameron
  • The Faerie Queene
  • Piers Plowman
  • King Henry IV, Part 1 (Wars of the Roses, #2)
  • The Norton Anthology of English Literature, Vol. B: The Sixteenth Century & The Early Seventeenth Century
  • Njal's Saga
  • The Romance of the Rose
  • Le Morte d'Arthur, Vol. 2
  • Lyrical Ballads
  • Ecclesiastical History of the English People
  • Goblin Market
  • Idylls of the King
  • Paradiso (The Divine Comedy, #3)
  • Orlando Furioso
  • Brigadoon (Vocal Score)
Geoffrey Chaucer (c. 1343 – October 25, 1400?) was an English author, poet, philosopher, bureaucrat, courtier and diplomat. Although he wrote many works, he is best remembered for his unfinished frame narrative The Canterbury Tales. Sometimes called the father of English literature, Chaucer is credited by some scholars as being the first author to demonstrate the artistic legitimacy of the vernacu ...more
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“people can die of mere imagination” 116 likes
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