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The Canterbury Tales the Canterbury Tales the Canterbury Tales

3.48  ·  Rating Details ·  157,599 Ratings  ·  2,591 Reviews
Lively, absorbing, often outrageously funny, Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales is a work of genius, an undisputed classic that has held a special appeal for each generation of readers.The Tales gathers twenty-nine of literature's most enduring (and endearing) characters in a vivid group portrait that captures the full spectrum of medieval society, from the exalted Knight to t ...more
ebook, 0 pages
Published May 30th 2006 by Bantam Classics (first published 1390)
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Reader Q&A

Popular Answered Questions

Sunny F Oh man yes. It took me a long time to get even vaguely comfortable with it. It helps a lot to have annotations from an editor though. Words repeat…moreOh man yes. It took me a long time to get even vaguely comfortable with it. It helps a lot to have annotations from an editor though. Words repeat themselves a lot so it eventually gets slightly easier. (less)
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)
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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
Pink
Apr 05, 2017 Pink rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 of
...more
Markus
"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
...more
Manny
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
...more
James
Book Review
It 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 cl
...more
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
Jonfaith
Aug 16, 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
...more
Aubrey
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
...more
Lada Fleur
Aug 22, 2014 Lada Fleur 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
Kyriakos Sorokkou
Feb 23, 2017 Kyriakos Sorokkou rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
WHAN that Aprille with his schowres swoote
The drought of Marche hath perced to the roote,
And bathud every veyne in suich licour,
Of which vertue engendred is the flour:

description

What is The Canterbury Tales
It 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 murdere
...more
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
...more
Chris
Nov 03, 2008 Chris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Alex
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:


Fatality!

Chaucer only managed to finish 23 of a planned 120 stories, so that’s actually a pretty bad job; his big innovation wa
...more
Ahmad Sharabiani
The Canterbury Tales, Geoffrey Chaucer
عنوان: 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 انگلیسی
The Canterbury Tales is a collection of 24 stories that runs to over 17,000 lines written in Middle English by Geoffrey Chaucer.
هزار 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
...more
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
...more
Hayat
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.
Michael
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
Amy
May 21, 2017 Amy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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!
Shahram Keivani
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 نک ...more
anique Halliday
Mar 22, 2007 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
...more
Jess
Jan 30, 2017 Jess rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2017
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.
Karin
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, y ...more
Katie
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
Jon(athan) Nakapalau
Another - "I am so glad to get this off my book bucket list" - book that was very hard for me to understand. The stories were often grounded in concepts that I think modern readers may have problems understanding, but I still recognize that this book is one of the great literary works of all time. I mark it a 'favorite' due to the fact that it is a 'key' to understanding other works of literature. I am sure this narrative form of story telling has influenced untold works of art.
Jason Pettus
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com:]. 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
...more
Sara
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
...more
Alan
Feb 11, 2015 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
Everyman
Dec 31, 2010 Everyman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Ellie
May 08, 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
Madeline
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
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  • Piers Plowman
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1838
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
More about Geoffrey Chaucer...

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