Abigail's Reviews > The Riverside Chaucer

The Riverside Chaucer by Geoffrey Chaucer
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really liked it
bookshelves: literary-classics, literature-english, poetry
Recommended for: Readers Interested in English Literature

This massive tome, 1327 pages in length, was the text used in my college Chaucer class, and provides a wonderful introduction to the works of this brilliant, but frequently under-appreciated poet. It contains all of Chaucer's major works, presented in their original Middle English; and includes the famous The Canterbury Tales , The Book of the Duchess , The Parliament of Fowls , Troilus and Criseyde , and many other short pieces. The introduction and appendices provide some very useful background material, whether of a biographical or literary nature. The texts themselves are presented with explanatory vocabulary footnotes, fleshed out further by the scholarly notes and glossary at the conclusion of the volume.

I have loved The Canterbury Tales since first reading them in high school, and feel quite passionately that they are best appreciated in their original form. You have not really read Chaucer until you have read him in the Middle English, and The Riverside Chaucer provides the reader with a relatively pain-free way of doing just that. Full of unexpected humor, sly innuendo, and a witty wordplay that doesn't always translate in modern "updates," Chaucer's language is not so different from our own that it cannot be approached by the novice. I certainly had no experience reading Middle English before picking up this book, and somehow managed, with the help of the notes and vocabulary, to enjoy the experience.

One final note: although this book is similar in name and scope to the more ubiquitous The Riverside Shakespeare it is worth noting that it can boast of far better production values, being attractively bound on the outside, and printed upon good quality paper, that does not have the feel of newsprint. All in all, a beautiful volume, well worth owning.
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Reading Progress

September 1, 1998 – Started Reading
December 22, 1998 – Finished Reading
June 15, 2019 – Shelved
June 15, 2019 – Shelved as: literary-classics
June 15, 2019 – Shelved as: literature-english
June 15, 2019 – Shelved as: poetry

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