Amelia's Reviews > A Taste of Chaucer: Selections from The Canterbury Tales

A Taste of Chaucer by Anne Malcolmson
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Jan 19, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: english-lit, 2012
Read in January, 2012

A Taste of Chaucer by Anne Malcomson is a book containing selections from the The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer. The Canterbury Tales are set in Chaucer’s England. Canterbury was a place frequently visited by “pilgrims”. Pilgrims were people who were journeying to a site with some sort of religious significance. Canterbury was the site where Thomas a Becket (who was made a saint after his death) was murdered. In some cases, these journeys “had lost their pious character”, being inspired instead by “springtime and the wanderlust”. Some writers of that time were rather scathing with such “pilgrims”. Chaucer, rather than doing this, includes himself in the group of pilgrims. They set out from a small town outside of London. Each man is asked by the host of a certain inn to tell two tales. The host winds up coming with the group. Not all of the tales remain. This book has been edited to modern English, and had certain passages removed.

Some of the pilgrims are a knight, a Prioress (or nun), a monk, a clerk from Oxenford (perhaps modern-day Oxford?), a manciple, a franklin, a Man of the Law, a Canon, a Pardoner, a widow (Wife) from Bath, and Chaucer himself, among others. The tales are drawn from various sources. Some are from old Greek and Roman fables. One of the tales, told by the Clerk, is concerning a woman called Griselda. (In the tale of the Wife of Bath, which is not included in the book “A Taste of Chaucer”, she slightly insults the clerk. The gist of her tale is that a woman ought to have the upper hand in marriage. This tale could be counted as a mild rebuke.) Griselda endures with patience her husband’s difficult testings, all with patience and submission. Another, told by the monk, is very gloomy. It tells of the fortunes of the wealthy. In all of the instances that he gives, some great or rich person meets with doom, and loses all. Another tale, the one told by the Manciple, concerns Phoebus (Apollo) and a crow. This is one of the tales from classical literature. Not all of The Canterbury Tales are included in this book, but those which are are very much worth reading. In this book, all of the tales have been translated to modern English. I would be very much interested in reading the original in Chaucer’s wording and spelling.

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message 1: by Michael (new)

Michael Good review. It will be interesting to see what you think when you read the original.


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