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The Canterbury Tales

3.50  ·  Rating details ·  186,333 ratings  ·  3,262 reviews

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 at

Paperback, This translation by Nevill Coghill first published in 1951, 521 pages
Published January 30th 2003 by Penguin Books/Penguin Classics (first published 1390)
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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 the…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.. Su…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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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
Sep 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
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 the
Jon Nakapalau
Sep 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Apr 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
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
Jul 05, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: classics
I'm gonna start texting in Chaucer's English.

*declares war on abbreviation*

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
Well, that came out of the blue!

I perused it, expecting some blend of quaint bits of Merry England, cloaked under some veil of Medieval lore, yet I had been confronted with something quite different!

This comes out as an array of odd tales, dealing with peoples' shortcomings, cuckholding, cheating, ripping off and the likes! As a whole it stands out unprecedented, a fearsome match for almost any collection of modern or contemporary shorts stories I have read.

For starters, each character has its s
"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
Mar 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: classics
This masterpiece was written over 600 years ago but I am positive that if you decide to pick it up you will find the stories most interesting!
My favourite tale was The Pardoner's Tale. I always enjoy a story in which greedy, vicious people get what they deserve.

I had tried reading Chaucer at university but Middle English was an obstacle I was not able to overcome. So this time I played safely and opted for this one in modern English .. And I enjoyed it so much!
Brian Levinson
Jun 17, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
I first read the Coghill translation. Then I struggled through the original text, slowly at first enjoying the colour and richness of the original language, then reading it again and again, enjoying more each time.

If you have a little French or German from school and can be flexible enough to understand that 'sonne' is 'sun', then give it a go. Once you're comfortable with it the language becomes a rich pleasure of it's own. The shift from modern to middle English might be daunting, but I feel i
Kyriakos Sorokkou
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:


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
The Canterbury Tales is a collection of twenty-four tales which is set as tales told by a group of pilgrims on their way to Canterbury Cathedral in Kent from Southwark Cathedral in London to pay homage to the shrine of Saint Thomas Beckett. The group includes Chaucer as a pilgrim and he narrates the stories told by other pilgrims including the two tales told by him on the journey.

The story-tellers represent different classes in the English society of the time. Through them, Chaucer has painted
Feb 11, 2015 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
Apr 29, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: classics, 1001-books
Read for my English 201 class in university. I recall how many upperclassmen warned me how terrible Chaucer was going to be. I never admitted it at the time, but I really enjoyed it.
Aug 07, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Aug 16, 2015 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
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 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: rth-lifetime, farts
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
Oct 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jane Upshall
Oct 24, 2017 rated it did not like it
I don’t know what I was supposed to gain by reading this book. Got through it with such pain . Am I missing something?
BAM The Bibliomaniac
2018 Reading Challenge: an allegory
The 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.
Mark Adderley
Mar 12, 2010 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
John Hatley
Mar 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of those books I read as a student of language. It is also one of the most significant works in the English language. The Canterbury Tales give students of the English language an excellent sample of Middle English (200 years before Shakespeare). At the same time, they provide an unparalleled glimpse of life in fourteenth-century England. To the adventurous I recommend reading it in the original Middle English.
Aug 07, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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 Pr
Jan 30, 2017 rated it liked it
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.
May 21, 2017 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!
Mar 22, 2007 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
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. ...more
Dec 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Canterbury Tales accompanied me through the fever-filled final days of 2019. It must have been my fourth or fifth attempt at reading it. Previous endeavors ended simply because reading 500 pages in Middle English is too time-consuming. In order to avoid this pitfall, I picked David Wright’s 1985 translation (Oxford University Press, 2011) that had inhabited my bookshelf for several years, as has the original-language tome The Riverside Chaucer, in which the Tales defeated me multiple times.

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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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