An Idler's Reviews > The Riverside Chaucer

The Riverside Chaucer by Geoffrey Chaucer
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it was amazing

I read just The Canterbury Tales from this edition. If you're interested, I recommend giving Chaucer a shot in the Middle English instead of going straight to a translation. The original language is melodious - and different enough from modern English to teach some etymology. Additionally, if you speak just one language and it's English, what other 600-year-old works of world literature do you have a shot at reading? Yes, it'll be slow going as you bounce between footnotes and some YouTube videos as you learn how to pronounce your new vocabulary, but Homer, Virgil, Dante are all closed to you in the original languages.

As for the work itself, I came to it primarily interested in validating the claims of singular humanity made by the tweedy anti-modern moderns like Sirs Kenneth Clark and Roger Scruton. And it's true. Chaucer writes characters who seem absolutely real, often by their very low-brow fallenness. Every kind of barnyard or schoolyard joke makes an appearance, half the stories involve conduct that would now be criminal (or at least open to a lawsuit), and many of the characters dislike each other for the same broad class-and-occupational prejudices you might find in any random crowd today.

It's an undertaking, but also a clearer line of sight into a past world - with its own similarities and dissimilarities to ours - than you're liable to get...anywhere else?
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Reading Progress

July 7, 2018 – Started Reading
July 7, 2018 – Shelved
October 12, 2018 – Finished Reading

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