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The Canterbury Tales

3.52  ·  Rating details ·  201,376 ratings  ·  3,555 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 1400)
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José Consider that it's actually Middle English and not modern English, I'm not surprised. This is the second phase in the evolution of our language and is…moreConsider that it's actually Middle English and not modern English, I'm not surprised. This is the second phase in the evolution of our language and is closer to what we speak today. Jonathan Swift is an antiquated version of what we speak. This is something entirely different. Understanding Chaucer in the original requires reading as part of a class. In fact, we had to memorize the first 18 or so lines of the prologue. I hope you enjoyed it.(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
Ahmad Sharabiani
The Canterbury Tales, Geoffrey Chaucer

The Canterbury Tales is a collection of 24 stories that runs to over 17,000 lines written in Middle English by Geoffrey Chaucer.

Set in England in the Middle Ages, stories of peasants, noblemen, clergy and demons are interwoven with brief scenes from Chaucer's home life and experiences implied to be the basis for the Canterbury Tales.

Each episode does not take the form of a story told by different pilgrim, as is the case in Chaucer's stories, but simply appe
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. ...more
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*

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
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
"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
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
Jul 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: british-classics

An essay that I wrote nearly a decade ago about The Canterbury Tales and its portrayal of women. It was for a course that I did, so the language is a bit academic and phoney.

The Canterbury Tales is a 14th century poem written by Geoffrey Chaucer. The poem offers us a vivid portrait of 14th century English society and the prevalent social order while also shedding light on the importance of and attitudes towards religion and status of and attitudes towards women in medi
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!
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
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
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
Apr 29, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 1001-books, classics
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.
Spencer Orey
Feb 12, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
5 stars for the performance, not for the absolute classic of English literature lol. I liked the voice actors and thought they each brought the tales to life. Listening to this was much easier than reading it for me
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
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.
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
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
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?
Mar 16, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: poetry
Yawn,another surefire cure for insomnia.

Why must they teach it,given that the language is so archaic ? And the content,it's not all that great either. Really tested my patience.
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
Feb 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: farts, 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
Trish (concerningnovels)
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.
Aug 15, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: e-books, poetry, classics
Chaucer’s pilgrims are a rum lot! Most seem to be flymen, ready to make a fast buck at the expense of others. Chaucer’s own presence amongst the pilgrims is interesting but he is there more as a bystander than a participant.

How is it possible to give such a seminal work a star rating? My 4 stars reflects my own response to it. I was sometimes bored, sometimes amused, sometimes engrossed in the tales and nearly always entertained. The work itself seems unfinished, however. I’m not a Chaucer schol
BAM Endlessly Booked
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.
Catherine Stormblessed
I am leaving a portion (since there are character limitations) of my Man of Law's final paper for you to view and become inspired by. To a fellow student who may be reading this, don't copyright. But feel free to take quotations/ideas. I hope this
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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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