The Canterbury Tales The Canterbury Tales discussion


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Best translation?

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message 1: by Thomas (new) - added it

Thomas Lampion There are so many out there! Would like to read this and the original text back to back. any suggestions?


message 2: by Bob (new) - rated it 3 stars

Bob Hartley You might be better off reading the original and sort of working out what it means. Get a Sparknotes thing or something.


Bryn Hammond Yes, if you have a nice edition with the meanings of old words right beside the line - and a quick guide on pronunciation for the sake of the verse, I'd say just tackle the original. Modern English versions, or those I've seen, spoil the poetry and simplify what's said. Chaucer's English isn't so weird that you don't quickly learn common words and have little difficulty. You can try and see..


Roxanne the humor in all is so delicious, bawdy


message 5: by Selena (last edited Aug 07, 2012 10:13AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Selena The translator of this edition, Nevil Coghill is quite eloquent in his translation style. But on the other hand an another Penguin edition of Canterbury Tales translated by Theodore Morrison under the title of 'Portable Chaucer' (1977) is a leading 'Chaucerian' translation as well.


Patrick I may not be the best to ask since I've studied linguistics and the history of the English language, but to me, I go translation-less. I think translating any work causes it to lose some of its life, and this isn't a translation so much as an updating. It's the same language, just a different period. It's not Beowulf.


Selena Patrick wrote: "I may not be the best to ask since I've studied linguistics and the history of the English language, but to me, I go translation-less. I think translating any work causes it to lose some of its lif..."

Surely it is much preferable to follow the original text. Yet, modern translations could also be fun.


message 8: by Meg (new) - added it

Meg I took a Brit Lit class 3 years ago and hated the Canterbury tales. I was forced to retake the class when I transferred to a different college and I LOVE it now. Why? NO FEAR Sparknotes Canterbury Tales - Free online, side-by-side translation. (http://www.sparknotes.com/nofear/lit/...) But Sparknotes translation is ultra-modern! It reads like your best friend is telling you the story. Super funny and relevant. The Miller's tale is like an episode of Jackass. Enjoy!


message 9: by Hildegard (new) - added it

Hildegard I also love working through the original, but need some help. Here's a website with texts plus tools you may find helpful:
http://machias.edu/faculty/necastro/c...


Michael Kneeland Nevill Coghill's translation seems to me the most readable translation, although he completely botches one of my favorite lines in Chaucer, from the Wife of Bath's Prologue:

(Original):

But, lord crist! whan that it remembreth me
Upon my yowthe, and on my jolitee,
It tikleth me aboute myn herte roote.
Unto this day it dooth myn herte boote
That I have had my world as in my tyme.

(Coghill):

But Christ! Whenever it comes back to me,
It fairly warms the cockles of my heart!
This very day I feel a pleasure start,
Yes, I can feel it tickling at the root.
Lord, how it does me good! I've had my fruit,
I've had my world and time, I've had my fling!

Alisoun's line, "it dooth myn herte boote / That I have had my world as in my tyme" is a glorious thanksgiving of being alive in your moment, thankful that you have been alive in your time and no other; it is woefully diminished by Coghill's "I've had my fruit, / I've had my world and time, I've had my fling!" Dreadful. :(


uh8myzen Michael wrote: "Alisoun's line, "it dooth myn herte boote / That I have had my world as in my tyme" is a glorious thanksgiving of being alive in your moment, thankful that you have been alive in your time and no other; it is woefully diminished by Coghill's "I've had my fruit, / I've had my world and time, I've had my fling!" Dreadful. :( "

Agreed! Go with the original. Translations loose so much from the original.


message 12: by Mark (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mark I fell that the old englash is best as its the origanl text for this book.


message 13: by Mkfs (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mkfs I've been using The Riverside Chaucer. It is simply the best, but is perhaps overkill (and definitely pricey). It is in the original.

As for the translation, I have to agree with Patrick, uh8myzen and Mark: go with the original. It's not so far from modern English that it's tough to read, and with Chaucer (as with Shakespeare) the use of language is half of the point.


message 14: by Pol (last edited Oct 24, 2014 06:50AM) (new)

Pol Penguin published a Middle English version of the Tales 10 years ago, with same-page modern English glosses and explanatory end-notes. I used that for a literature survey module in university. It's rather hefty in size and quite piggy-bank-breaking though.


message 15: by April (new) - added it

April Munday Hildegard wrote: "I also love working through the original, but need some help. Here's a website with texts plus tools you may find helpful:
http://machias.edu/faculty/necastro/c..."


Thank you for the link. I read The Canterbury Tales in translation, but I've got Troilus and Criseyde in the original as well as Piers Plowman, so it will be useful to have some help when I read them.


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