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The Canterbury Tales
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April 2016 The Canterbury Tales > How are you reading your copy?

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Daniel Clark I am getting excited about starting this book in April. How are you reading this? What version did you find?

This book is in the public domain in the US, which means you can get a free copy from Project Gutenberg here: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/2383 (it also includes "other tales"). This version is not of course the original Middle English text, but instead has updated spelling (wepyng becomes weeping, and quod becomes quoth). It has notes for most of the out-of-use Middle English-era words and phrases within each line of text.

There is a free (public domain in the US) Librivox audiobook as well: https://librivox.org/the-canterbury-t... of the same updated-spelling Middle English version.

There is another option: a translation into Modern English. Two translators have published such a version for free access online (with the permission of the publishers). It can be found here: http://english.fsu.edu/canterbury/ I plan on pasting all the chapters into a single file to read as an ebook.

Good luck finding a copy! What is your opinion on keeping Ye Olde Englishe intact?


message 2: by Emma (new)

Emma (emmalaybourn) I think you need a good glossary to read it in the original Middle English, so it could be slow work - but modern English versions can lose some of the book's character. So maybe the ideal way is to try it in the original but have a translation to hand..


Catherine (catjackson) I read this many, many years ago when i was in college. I still have the text we used and might try to read certain portions of it in the original Middle English, especially the first part. but i think i may revert to a modern translation as i get further in. it's a lot of work to do all that translating on the fly. and i want to be able to focus on the stories instead of making this a vocabulary exercise.


message 4: by Glendapearl (new)

Glendapearl (Glenda_Pearl) | 16 comments Emma wrote: "I think you need a good glossary to read it in the original Middle English, so it could be slow work - but modern English versions can lose some of the book's character. So maybe the ideal way is t..."

That's the way I read it the first time. Slow going, but well worth it. I learned so much about the language &, as a result, the time period as well.

I remember in high school having to memorize the first few lines of Canterbury Tales in the original language, and at the time I imagined what it would be like, hearing that musical language from everyone around you all day long. Another layer to add to what we know about that time (clothing, architecture both grand and lowly, use of animals, cooking meals & menus, etc.) that adds a richness when contemplating the literature of the time.


message 5: by Jessica (new) - added it

Jessica I have a printed copy used by my father in college, which I stole upon moving out but then never came around to actually reading. It's complete, unabridged and the text has not been modernized. It does contain marginal glosses which hopefully aid understanding enough so that I won't have to search for explanatory material as I am not very familiar with Middle English.

That said, I'm also looking forward to finally reading through the entire book!


Cindy I am going to read the New Modern English translation. I tried to read it in the original prose and was completely lost.


message 7: by Marnie (new) - added it

Marnie | 20 comments I'm reading a side by side Middle English / modern translation. It will be a bit slow because I'm really reading it twice. So far I'm only halfway thought the Knights first tale, but I like attempting to understand the Middle English first. Some parts are actually pretty clear. I wouldn't want to read the modern translation only because you lose the rhyme and rhythm that's the beauty of the original text.


message 8: by Goreti (new)

Goreti I couldn't find a version that would be in portuguese and that it's not extremly expensive. Being the english a second language, I'm not confortable in trying the original version.


message 9: by Lindsey (new) - added it

Lindsey Buis | 77 comments Cindy wrote: "I am going to read the New Modern English translation. I tried to read it in the original prose and was completely lost."
What modern translation did you use?


Cindy I read A New Modern English Prose Translation by R.M. Lumiansky, Washington Square Press Edition. I bought my book at a thrift store. I will double check, but I am sure Amazon has a copy.


message 11: by Milagros (new)

Milagros | 2 comments Hello:
I bought my copy by chance. A new library opened in my city and I want to buy something. In this moment I only read one tale and leave it in my shelf.


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