All Things Medieval discussion

The Canterbury Tales

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message 1: by Allie (new)

Allie | 3 comments Okay so I have been searching the internet for a "good" edition of The Canterbury Tales and am wondering if someone can help from previous buying experience because I am lost in all the available editions. I want a hardcover edition, one nice enough to pass on through time and look pretty on a book shelf. I also would prefer one with both the old english version and a modern "translation." Does anyone have any advice? I think it might be useful to actually go to a used bookstore and look through their editions, but I thought maybe I should ask first. I appreciate the help! My husband asked me to look for a copy and he NEVER asks for books! haha Plus it is a must for any library in my opinion!

message 2: by Harvey (new)

Harvey | 10 comments If I see my friend in the rugby club tomorrow I will ask him; he made a special study of Chaucer.

message 3: by Sara (new)

Sara Sadeghi (lovelylilies123) I just finished the Canterbury Tales and I must say that it wasn't very good. Quite boring in fact. The tales are choppy and there is way too much unnecessary prologue.

message 4: by Allie (new)

Allie | 3 comments I just want them to reference to every once in awhile when they are brought up!! Def a different writing style than we are used to reading...

message 5: by Sara (new)

Sara Sadeghi (lovelylilies123) Allie wrote: "I just want them to reference to every once in awhile when they are brought up!! Def a different writing style than we are used to reading..."

im sorry i dont really understand.

message 6: by Julie (new)

Julie | 1 comments Makes perfect sense to me. The Canterbury Tales are on a short list of examples of genuine medieval fiction. If you're planning to write new fiction set in that era, it makes perfect sense to want to know what your characters would know...and these are some of the stories they might have told each other.

One thing, though. The Canterbury Tales are written in Middle English, not Old English.

Sorry, I can't recommend a good translation. The one I've read...isn't. I'd look on Amazon and study the sample pages of the different translations...then go ask your local bookstore.

message 7: by Old-Barbarossa (last edited Apr 11, 2010 10:39PM) (new)

Old-Barbarossa Julie wrote: "...and these are some of the stories they might have told each other.

On that note try: The Decameron. 100 short tales of smut, adventure, werewolves, pirates and nuns that have been ripped off by everyone from Chaucer to the Carry On films. The Penguin one is fairly good, reasonable notes.

message 8: by Allie (new)

Allie | 3 comments Thanks for the advice!!

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 79 comments I'm a big fan of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. My godmother gave me a children's Chaucer when I was three, and I used to beg my mother to read me the prologue in Middle English (it sounded really cool). The advantages of a mom who's had to take interesting languages!

message 10: by Old-Barbarossa (new)

Old-Barbarossa Roberto Antonio Hussein wrote: "The Decameron by Boccaccio. The tales of love between medieval men and women are so tame, can you believe the Church and the Pope once banned the book!"

The edition I got was fairly explicit at times, think it was the Penguin one. Mind you many editions (like the Canterbury Tales - also very smutty in bits) are abridgements.

message 11: by Old-Barbarossa (last edited Jul 17, 2010 09:17AM) (new)

Old-Barbarossa Roberto Antonio Hussein wrote: "@Old-Barbarossa. But in comparison to some of the popular erotic novels nowadays, Decameron is pretty tame and mild. Cf. Swing, The Voyeur, Babysitting the Baumgartners."

Aye, but I don't think that's the best comparison, don't think that the Dec was seen as filling the same niche. Also think the portrayal of the clergy was more the reason for the papal displeasure. This would have been more shocking than jokes about crossdressing or genitals (as amusing as they are).

message 12: by [deleted user] (new)

OK, I know this is an old thread but I found it interesting. I'm currently reading (a long term project) the complete works of Chauscer in the original middle english. I'm finding it a challenge but the more I read the easier it is to understand. The tales are quite varied in style and subject matter I think.

message 13: by Marie Z (new)

Marie Z Johansen (mzjohansen) | 13 comments WoW!What a great personal challenge that is. I can imagine that once you get the cadence of the words and a sense of the spelling variations it would become easier to read. The spelling variations may be why - in many historical novels - we read of people braking the seal and sitting down to savor the letter - it may have taken longer to cipher the words!

Hope you;ll post about some of our impressions of the book read in the original.

message 14: by [deleted user] (new)

Will do. I warn you, it took me several years to read the complete works of Shakespear. I keep heading off to read something lighter.

message 15: by Marie Z (new)

Marie Z Johansen (mzjohansen) | 13 comments I would hope that you did intersperse mid-english with something lighter !lol
A year to go through Shakespeare doesn't seem bad to me. I daydream about what it might have been like to be in those times writing phonetically! I daydream until I realize I might well be dead long ago if I had lived then !

message 16: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Spangenberg (lisalspangenberg) The standard scholarly edition of Chaucer's works is the Riverside Chaucer, edited by Larry Benson. There's a British paperback that's around 30.00, but the U.S. hardcover is about 85.00. This is the one scholars cite. If you're just interested in the Canterbury Tales, there's an older edition of just them edited by Albert Baugh with really helpful notes/glosses. It's available in hard cover, used, for not much money; it was used a lot for undergrads in the 1970s.

The other option doesn't have all of the Canterbury Tales, but it's eminently readable, has great glosses, and some helpful essays. That's the Norton Critical Edition Selections from the Canterbury Tales, edited by V. A. Kolve and Glending Olson. You'll want the second edition; it has more.

message 17: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Spangenberg (lisalspangenberg) The only half-way OK facing page translation edition is the one from Bantam Classics edited by Hieatt.

Really, truly, get a good glossed Middle English version, and you'll be fine. Listen to some audio recording while you look at the Middle English, and you'll pick it up pretty quickly. This works for thousands of students every year.

message 18: by AndrewJL (new)

AndrewJL | 1 comments I own the Broadview edition of the Canterbury Tales. It is an excellent edition because it contains enough glossing and footnotes to help you understand what you are reading but not so much as to bog down your reading. Like Lisa said, if you apply yourself, you should pick up the rhythm of Chaucer's Middle English rather quickly.

The Canterbury Tales, Second Edition

message 19: by Katie (new)

Katie (katie1421) Just wanted to second Lisa's point that it's worth giving Canterbury Tales a go in Middle English if you're at all interested in trying it.

Not only will it give you a better feel of the sound and rhythm Chaucer was going for, but it will probably give you a good bit of insight into the English language. There were loads of occasions where I thought I didn't understand a section only to read it out loud and realize how much it actually sounded like our modern English. It's lots of fun if you're not in a rush.

message 20: by John (new)

John | 1 comments In response to Lisa's suggestion to listen to some audio recording, there's a reading of the Canterbury Tales by Luke Reinsma of Seattle Pacific University available free on iTunes U.

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