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The Canterbury Tales

3.33  ·  Rating details ·  375 Ratings  ·  79 Reviews
Accompany a band of merry medieval pilgrims as they make their way-on motorcycles, of course-to Canterbury. Meeting at the Tabard Inn, the travelers, including a battle-worn knight, a sweetly pretentious prioress, the bawdy Wife of Bath, and an emaciated scholar-clerk, come up with a plan to pass time on the journey to Thomas à Becket's shrine by telling stories. The twent ...more
Hardcover, 144 pages
Published September 6th 2011 by Bloomsbury USA (first published August 30th 2011)
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Community Reviews

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Rating details
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Biblio Curious
Apr 21, 2017 rated it liked it
Mr. Chaucer was a saucy fellow!!! I think most of his tales were blatantly 'borrowed' from The Decameron.

This comic is like a cliff notes to The Canterbury Tales. Highly recommended. I gave it 4 stars because the illustrations were... just stick figures. I'm more eager than ever to read the actual book!
This is my second adaptation by Seymour Chwast...I applaud his ambitious desire to make classic literature more accessible, and I think this book worked better than the Dante book...He captured the playfulness and the profane elements of the original. The pilgrims are all on motorcycles, IN THEIR PERIOD CLOTHES, on their way to Canterbury.

What is missing is the wonderful ironic voice. Now, I'll admit, lots of the irony went right over my head the first...and second...time I read parts of this w
Aug 29, 2011 rated it it was ok
This showed up in the mail, an advanced reading copy from Firstreads. The idea had intrigued me - a graphic novel of the Tales? How would that look? I read plenty of classics adapted into comic book form when I was a kid, and found in nearly every case they inspired me to read the originals - so I give Seymour Chwast full credit for a good idea and a great choice of book. As a fan of Chaucer, though, I can't say that this adaptation gives the reader a very flavorful taste of what the Tales are a ...more
Petruccio Hambasket IV
Oh boy, this one really let me down. Maybe I'm being too rash by giving it nothing more than 2 stars, but at the same time I can't find the justification for more.

For the record, I love the Canterbury Tales (in modern or Middle English) and the thought of a creative retelling or even adaptations of the story gets me a little too excited. That being said, this comic book rendering basically dumped a bucket of ice water on the spark of my excitement. It's disappointing in many different ways.

Conrad Wesselhoeft
Feb 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
This hilarious graphic novel is written with a big tongue in an elastic cheek. Seymour Chwast, who adapted the 15th Century classic, reminds us of Chaucer's major influence across time on various literary forms, including slapstick, satire, fable, and road trip.

"The Canterbury Tales" is the story of thirty pilgrims making their way to Canterbury Cathedral to pay homage to the martyr Saint Thomas Beckett. The leader asks each pilgrim to tell a story to entertain the group, and so we get a rich ba
Mar 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
While not necessarily kid-friendly, and I was sometimes confused by the choices of having de-clothed ladies, for the most part I enjoyed it. I though Chwast did a fabulous job summing up the stories, keeping that Chaucer wit, and inserting some social commentary into the mix. I am already planning on reading his Dante and Homer renditions.
Kim Reynolds-Jolles
Mar 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
If you are like me, I have a difficult time with classic literature. I can't understand why or what they are talking about. With the help of Seymour Chwast and a bunch of motorcycles, the Canterbury tales are told for the true lover of Geoffrey Chaucer and the newcomers. Maybe I should go look at the rest of Chwast.
Patrick Book
Apr 29, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018-reads
Pretty good, for a guy who draws only slightly better than me.
Feb 13, 2017 rated it liked it
it was a fun way to understand the canterbury tales. i liked it.
Ron Turner
Jun 28, 2017 rated it did not like it
Some folks praise the "primitive" style but I call bullshit. The whole thing just seems very half-assed. A high school creative writing project could have done a lot better.
Apr 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
If I remember correctly, the first time I was introduced to The Canterbury Tales was in high school. I remember instantly falling in love with Chaucer’s tongue-in-cheek humor and how he infused that humor with parables that left one with a lesson learned. When I was at the bookstore and found that a graphic novel version existed, I of course needed to buy it and see how creative Seymour Chwast was in his interpretation of Chaucer’s great work.

For those of you not familiar with The Canterbury Tal
Feb 16, 2013 rated it liked it
I enjoyed the quick read (140pp) of all of Chaucer's tales, told in graphic format. However...
I've actually read/studied the complete Chaucer in Middle English (784pp), which leaves me wondering: is this work by Chwast for those like me who are familiar with the complete tales, or for those unfamiliar. In my case there's an element of awe at the artistry on display to (in most cases) accurately convey the gist of poems that typically run into the hundreds of lines, in 6 comic pages or less. Beca
Andrea Blythe
Nov 01, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: comics-manga
Seymour Chwast takes Chaucer's Canterbury Tales and edits them into a playful and fun graphic novel with all the raunchy humor the tales deserve. The book is illustrated with mostly black-and white art is loose and playful and matches well with this revision of the classic poetry.

Let me first say that I have only read The Canterbury Tales in part. The poetry is funny and beautiful all at once, but it's also a very dense and difficult read as well.

So, with that said, I enjoyed Chwast's version
Amanda Richards
Jul 31, 2012 rated it really liked it
OK so this was definitely a fun and very quick read. I know a lot of people complained about this book saying that it wasn't as good as the original, it didn't retain the pretty prose of Chaucer, the art was bad, etc. etc. However I think it was all of these things that made it entertaining.

Now, I have never read the full Canterbury Tales (although it is on my TBR list) but I think that this book was a pretty good introduction to the topic. Because the author didn't try to retain the original la
Pat Carlson
Oct 12, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: odu
The Canterbury Tales, by Geoffrey Chaucer, adapted by Seymour Chwast. (2011, Bloomsbury Publishers). pg. 143.
Junior book: Graphic

Summary: A graphic book with many characters, each with their own tale. Supposedly these are mideveile characters, but there are modern conveniences such as motorcycles incorporated into the pictures.

a) accuracy

b) As I stated the motorcycles are not realistic of Chaucer's time period which was around the 1300's. The fact that everyone has their own tale is so true. Th
Nov 08, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
This was a light, fun read. Chwast's illustrations are humurous and charming (and crude when the time is appropriate)

My primary interest in the book was as an educator, and in that area I was dissapointed. I expected paraphrasing, but I did not expect so much of the text to be cut entirely! For example, the Wife of Bath's prologue was left out. While sections of the book could supplement a study of the Canterbury Tales, this truly is Chwast's own work.

I realize that most people do not read books
Oct 30, 2011 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: I don't recommend it
I chose to read "The Canterbury Tales" in the graphic format because first of all, I was unwilling to master Middle English in high school or college and so had never read it and second, I wanted to read a graphic novel. However, as I was ordering it, I realized that "Maus" by Art Spiegelman is indeed a graphic novel and I had read it and enjoyed it years ago. The Canterbury Tales, however, was a disappointment. Perhaps I would have been better satisfied if I was not married to a retired English ...more
Amanda Moore
After a bit too much wine at one of my favorite book stores, I saw this by the register and had to buy it, thinking to myself: "Oh, 7-year-old Clementine will LOVE a graphic version of this otherwise-too-difficult-just-yet text." And of course she loves it, but this is in no way intended for children, as delightful as they may find all the farting. In fact, having to describe to her what "carnal knowledge" is was one of the trickier parenting moments I've had recently (how much do I say??), but ...more
Apr 01, 2015 added it
Shelves: graphic, novel
A fairly straightfoward presentation of the Canterbury Tales with all of the original bawdy humor coming through intact--indeed, enhanced--by the fiarly simple graphics. The prose-and-pictures condensations of the work lends a certain immediacy and abruptness to the tales, but fairly successfully brings out the meat of each teller's personality and the rivalrys between the pilgrims (or their professions). I don't know how well one would enjoy this if one hadn't already read the original, since i ...more
Jul 29, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
I won a copy of this book in a Goodreads First Reads giveaway.

I entered the contest to win a copy of this book, thinking I'd give an illustrated (or what I consider a comic book) version of a story a chance. It's not my usual type of literature.
This format just doesn't work for me. I am a visual person by nature, but when I read, I don't need pictures to visualize what is happening. I enjoy imagining how the characters look and the situations in my own mind, so seeing pictures integrated with a
Pam Fullem
Jul 29, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: first-reads
I received this as a paperback ARC as a "First Reads". I, too, must admit that I am probably not the target audience for this book, and it is also my first adult graphic novel. I must confess I have not read the original "Canterbury Tales". The setting of the story has been updated to the travelers traveling to Canterbury on motorcycles. It helped to have the modern English, and the drawings certainly took the place of much prose. I do admit this made the stories clear to me. However, some of th ...more
Apr 29, 2013 rated it liked it
A graphic novel translation of the Canterbury Tales by Chaucer.

To pass the time pilgrims on their way to Canterbury, England decide to tell each other tales as they travel along on their motorcycles. The visual joke of people in Middle English dress on motorcycles instead of horseback and on foot maybe the best laugh for those who are already familiar with the stories. But it is a good updated retelling and a whimsical way to introduce new readers to the famous tales. Includes adult content and
Jul 31, 2011 rated it liked it
I won this book through First Reads. I was a bit apprehensive at first because I didn't think that an author could portray the humor intended in Chaucer's works in a graphic version. But oh how I was wrong! Definitely a fun way to read the Canterbury Tales. If you are a fan of Chaucer's versoin you may not find it humorous. Wasn't quite up to par for actually portraying what Chaucer's book was about, but it did bring out the humor that I think Chaucer had originally intended. I think it would be ...more
Aug 21, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
I received the advance reading copy of this book - thanks to the First-Reads giveaway. I was excited for two main reasons. First, I have never read The Canterbuey Tales in school. Second, I am just curious about what the comic graphic version is all about. It is an interesting read for me. The use of modern English and the visual presentations definitely help in understanding the tales, but somehow, it seems to simplify the depth of the original work too much. Maybe I am not the targeted audienc ...more
Nov 27, 2016 rated it liked it
Chwast's fascinating retelling of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales is one that I randomly picked up at the library. I've always been fascinated with adaptation of any kind, and Chwast's way of over-simplifying the tales is quite interesting. There's something about breaking something so complex and longwinded, (some editions of Canterbury Tales clock in at over 900 pages) down into one or two page stories, relying on visual as a further aide, that I enjoyed. I wouldn't say I was blown away by it, but ...more
Ellie Dudding
Aug 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
I received an advanced reading copy of Chwast's adaption of The Canterbury Tales while working on a paper about The Knights Tale, the timing was impeccable which while that has nothing to do with how wonderful the book actually is (and it is wonderful) I think it's kind of funny. This book is so much fun! It really pulls forward Chaucer's intended humor of The Canterbury Tale that's lost on a great number of it's audience. It's mostly accurate though I noticed some understandable discrepancies, ...more
Mar 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
Seymour Chwast is a noted illustrator, and he simplifies the Canterbury Tales into a graphic novel. I don't remember making it through all these tales in high school, just a few of them (but still remember having memorized the opening lines: When that Aprille with his shoures soote, the droghte of Marche had perced to the roote...) but this version was a breeze. Chwast's talent lies in getting to the crux of the stories (piety vs. venality, lots of greed, fornication and betrayal) in a simple an ...more
Oct 18, 2011 rated it it was ok
Picked this book up to get a sense of what The Canterbury Tales, which I had never read, was about. Let me tell you, I can only assume that missing the language of the original is what led to the downfall of what might have been a better telling. Felt like Cliff Notes would have given me a better sense of what I was missing. Instead, I got quick summaries of some bawdy and some moralistic stories. Other stories I had no idea what the point was. Clearly lost on me and did not inspire me to read t ...more
Aug 10, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: adult, own-it
I won this graphic novel through GoodReads First Reads. Unfortunately, I am not the target audience for this book. I guess I was one of the few people in high school to actually enjoy The Canterbury Tales in its prose form. The stories were a bit risque for required reading, but when they're abbreviated down to around two pages storie, as is the case here, it left me feeling flat. The humor doesn't translate over well in abbreviated form. The entire thing is just... tawdry.

I just didn't get it,
Stephanie (aka WW)
Jul 21, 2016 rated it liked it
I give this book 3 stars because it made Chaucer and the Canterbury Tales accessible to me. The drawings are amateurish and the lettering, which I assume was hand-done, was awful. That said, I actually appreciated the rendering of the stories, which must have been very, very abridged. They were much bawdier than I expected. And sometimes a little gory. Usually depressing. And sometimes really stupid. A mixed bag, which I expected, but not the way they are. All in all, a good alternative to readi ...more
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