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The Canterbury Tales

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The procession that crosses Chaucer's pages is as full of life and as richly textured as a medieval tapestry. The Knight, the Miller, the Friar, the Squire, the Prioress, the Wife of Bath, and others who make up the cast of characters -- including Chaucer himself -- are real people, with human emotions and weaknesses. When it is remembered that Chaucer wrote in English at a time when Latin was the standard literary language across western Europe, the magnitude of his achievement is even more remarkable. But Chaucer's genius needs no historical introduction; it bursts forth from every page of The Canterbury Tales.

If we trust the General Prologue, Chaucer intended that each pilgrim should tell two tales on the way to Canterbury and two tales on the way back. He never finished his enormous project and even the completed tales were not finally revised. Scholars are uncertain about the order of the tales. As the printing press had yet to be invented when Chaucer wrote his works, The Canterbury Tales has been passed down in several handwritten manuscripts.

521 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1400

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About the author

Geoffrey Chaucer

1,364 books1,197 followers
Geoffrey Chaucer (c. 1343 – October 25, 1400?) was an English author, poet, philosopher, bureaucrat, courtier and diplomat. Although he wrote many works, he is best remembered for his unfinished frame narrative The Canterbury Tales. Sometimes called the father of English literature, Chaucer is credited by some scholars as being the first author to demonstrate the artistic legitimacy of the vernacular English language, rather than French or Latin.

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Profile Image for MJ Nicholls.
2,023 reviews4,068 followers
June 22, 2013
When confronted with the painful choice of whether or not to read Chaucer in the original Middle English, I agonised for precisely four seconds and decided to read Nevill Coghill’s modern translation in lovely Penguin paperback. In the same way I wouldn’t learn German to read Goethe, or unlearn English to read Dan Brown, I refuse to learn archaic forms of English for pointless swotty scholar-points, and grope instead for selfish readerly pleasure, two-fingering the purists and bunking down with Mr. Nevill for nights of sumptuous moral homily, proto-feminist romantic comedy, and high courtly drama. For Chaucer neophytes like me, this text captures the bouncy humour and devilish cleverness of the original (not that I would know!), and hopefully will turn a generation of frightened and unenlightened readers on to this master of verse. (And if you must know, my rhyming homage review was lost due to a power failure and a more tempting invitation to eat pilaf rice with Brian. Street children! Wives of Bath! Go forth and Chaucerize!)
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,566 reviews56.6k followers
September 21, 2021
The Canterbury Tales, Geoffrey Chaucer

The Canterbury Tales is a collection of 24 stories that runs to over 17,000 lines written in Middle English by Geoffrey Chaucer.

Set in England in the Middle Ages, stories of peasants, noblemen, clergy and demons are interwoven with brief scenes from Chaucer's home life and experiences implied to be the basis for the Canterbury Tales.

Each episode does not take the form of a story told by different pilgrim, as is the case in Chaucer's stories, but simply appear in sequence, seemingly without regard for the way that the tales relate to one another in the original text.

All the stories are linked to the arrival of a group of pilgrims at Canterbury, among whom is the poet Geoffrey Chaucer, played by Pasolini himself.

This book is one of the great literary works of all time.

The Canterbury Tales consists of the General Prologue, The Knight's Tale, The Miller's Tale, The Reeve's Tale, The Cook's Tale, The Man of Law's Tale, The Wife of Bath's Tale, The Friar's Tale, The Summoner's Tale, The Clerk's Tale, The Merchant's Tale, The Squire's Tale, The Franklin's Tale, The Second Nun's Tale, ..., written in late Middle English, is part of Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales. Narrated by a nun who remains unnamed, it is a hagiography of the life of Saint Cecilia.

تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز بیست و ششم ماه سپتامبر سال 2009میلادی

عنوان: حکایتهای کنتربری؛ نویسنده: جفری چاسر؛ مترجم: علیرضا مهدیپور؛ مشخصات نشر تهران، نشر چشمه، 1387 تا 1389؛ در سه جلد؛ جلد دو در 452ص؛ شابک دوره 9789643624880؛ فارسی انگلیسی؛ موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان بریتانیا - سده 15م

هزار و یک شب در انگلیس

ترجمه کتاب نامدار «حکایت‌های کنتربری» این فرصت را داد، تا هم با یک اثر کلاسیک آشنا بشویم، و هم زبان انگلیسی کهن را بخوانیم؛ کلیسای جامع «کنتربری»، یکی از مراکز مهم مسیحیت در دنیاست؛ برای پی بردن به اهمیت کلیسا، کافیست بدانید، که دانشگاههای «آکسفورد»، و «کیمبریج»، زمانی زیر مجموعه ی همین «کلیسا» بوده اند، و هنوز هم چهار کالج در «آکسفورد»، و دو کالج در «کیمبریج»، هست، که اسقف اعظم «کنتربری»، شخصا ریاستش را به عهده دارند

اسقف اعظم در میان مسیحیان «انگلیکان»، درجه ای همانند «پاپ» دارند، و مسیحی‌های «انگلیکان»، پس از «کاتولیک‌ها»؛ بیشترین تعداد را، در دنیای «مسیحیت» دارند؛ حالا کلیسایی به این درجه از اهمیت،‌ داستانی دارد؛ این داستان هم داستانی کهنسال، و جزو متون کهن، و کلاسیک به شمار می‌آید؛ «حکایت‌های کنتربری» را جناب «علیرضا مهدی پور»، شاعر «تبریزی»، اگرچه تنها «مقدمه، و چهار قصه» از کل بیست و چهار داستان «حکایت‌های کنتربری» را ترجمه کرده، اما همین هم غنیمت است؛ به ویژه که ایشان خوش ذوقی کرده، و داستان‌های منظوم «چاسر» را، در قالب شعر به فارسی برگردانده، و اینکار را خوب و نیک انجام داده اند؛ «حکایت‌های کنتربری» را «جفری چاسر» بنوشته، و در قصه‌ های آن، از «شیر مرغ»، تا «جان آدمیزاد»، پیدا می‌شود؛ «ماجراجویی عاشقانه»، داستان «زندگی قدیسان»، «قصه‌ های مذهبی»، داستان‌های «تمثیلی از حیوانات»، و حتی «موعظه»؛ «چاسر» پانزده سال پایانی عمر خویش را، صرف نوشتن حکایت‌های «کنتربری» کردند، که خودش هم به عنوان زائر، در آن حضور دارند؛

در دیباچه ی کتاب، ایشان در یک مهمانخانه، با بیست و نه شخصیت دیگر، روبرو می‌شوند، که آن‌ها هم زائر مقبره ی «تامس بکت قدیس»، در کلیسای جامع «کنتربری» هستند؛ «تامس بکت قدیس» مردی بود، که شوالیه ‌های تحت فرمان پادشاه، به اشتباه ایشان را کشته بودند، و مزار ایشان، در کلیسای جامع «کانتربری»، به زیارتگاه مردم تبدیل شده بود؛ «چاسر» از سفر یک گروه از زائران، به این محل استفاده می‌کند، تا داستان بگوید، و مردمان زمانه ی خویش را نیز معرفی کند

صاحب مهمان‌خانه ‌ای که زائران، در آن گرد آمده ‌اند، پیشنهاد می‌دهد، همه ی زوار برای گذران وقت، در طول راه، قصه بگویند، و از همینجاست که «چاسر» توصیف شخصیت‌ها را، آغاز می‌کند؛ از «شوالیه» گرفته، تا «شخمزن»، و «آسیابان»، و «کارپرداز»، از «داروغه» گرفته، تا «راهب»، و «بازرگان»، و «قاضی»، و البته «کشیش‌ها» و «راهب‌های» گوناگون، که یکی‌شان حتی توبه فروش (کفاره گیر) است؛ به واقع در حکایت‌های «کنتربری»، مردمانی از طبقات گوناگون، نقش قصه ‌گویی را، به دوش می‌گیرند، و رفتار‌ها، و اظهار نظر‌های آن‌ها، سرنخ‌های بسیاری، درباره ی «روش زندگی»، و «خلق و خوی مردمان آن زمانه»، به خوانشگر می‌دهد؛ مثلا حکایت نخست را شوالیه ای (از طبقه ی اشراف) نقل می‌کند، و قرار بر این می‌شود، که پس از او هم «راهب» قصه بگوید؛ اما «آسیابان» (از طبقه ی پایین جامعه)، خودش را وسط می‌اندازد، تا قصه اش را تعریف کند

نخستین بودن قصه ی «شوالیه»، خوانشگر را به این اندیشه می‌اندازد، که لابد قصه‌ ها، بر اساس طبقات اجتماعی شخصیت‌ها، گفته خواهند شد، اما وقتی «آسیابان» خودش را قاتی ماجرا می‌کند،‌ معلوم می‌شود، که قرار نیست، آنطور باشد؛ «چاسر» پس از بازنشستگی از کار - یعنی در اوایل دهه 1390میلادی - به کار جدی، روی حکایت‌های «کنتربری» آغاز کردند؛ ایشان برنامه ی بزرگی برای نوشتن این حکایت‌ها در ذهن داشتند، و اگر آن را پیاده می‌کردند؛ حکایت‌ها خیلی بیشتر میشد؛ برنامه اصلی «چاسر» این بود، که هر یک از شخصیت‌های حاضر در حکایت‌های «کنتربری»، چهار داستان بگویند؛ دو تا حین راه رفتن به زیارت، و دو تا در راه برگشت؛ با این حساب باید یکصد و بیست داستان، دراین اثر نوشته می‌شد، اما متن موجود به زبان انگلیسی «بیست و چهار» حکایت بیشتر نیست، و این یعنی در روز بیست و پنجم ماه اکتبر سال 1401میلادی، «چاسر» از دنیا رفته است، ظاهرا «جفری چاسر» می‌خواسته همه ی حکایت‌های «کنتربری» را واقعا برای مردم و برای «خوانده شدن» بنویسند

ایشان در جریان کارشان با مردمانی از طبقات مختلف اجتماع، سر و کار داشتند، و شاید همین مسئاله بود، که ایشان را به فکر نوشتن شعر، و قصه گویی برای خوانشگر عام انداخت؛ «چاسر» می‌خواست چیزی بنوسید، که از لحاظ زبانی، برای همه قابل فهم باشد، اما یک مشکل بزرگ در این راه وجود داشت؛ تا پیش از «چاسر»، ادبیات در «انگلیس»، صرفا دو شکل داشت؛ یک شکل از آن به زبان «فرانسه»، نوشته می‌شد، و مختص دربار و درباریان بود، و شکل دیگرش هم، به «لاتین» نوشته می‌شد، و مختص «کلیسا» بود، و خلاصه مردمان معمولی، برای لذت بردن از آثار ادبی، هیچ نداشتند؛ «چاسر» این وضعیت را، دیگر کردند، و به همان زبان «انگلیسی» نوشتند، که مردمان «لندن»، در کوچه و خیابان، گفتگو می‌کردند؛ اینجور سود بردن از زبان محلی، توسط «چاسر»، شاید تحت تاثیر نوشته ‌های «بوکاچیو»، «پترارک»، و «دانته»، در ادبیات «ایتالیایی» بود، اما انگار همه منتظر بودند، که یک نفر در «انگلیس»، چنین کاری را انجام بدهد، و راه را برای دیگران باز کند، و همینگونه هم شد، چون شاعران «انگلیسی»، پس از «چاسر»، به نوشتن به زبان ساده و محلی، تمایل پیدا کردند

اصل حکایت‌های «کنتربری»، به زبان انگلیسی میانه، نوشته شده، و شباهت‌هایی با زبان نوشتاری، و گفتاری امروزین انگلیسی دارد؛ خوانشگری که با زبان انگلیسی آشناست، متن اولیه حکایت‌های «کانتربری» را تا حدی می‌تواند بخواند، در حالیکه بعضی از متون معاصر با همین اثر، اصلا برای انگلیسی زبان‌ها هم قابل خواندن نیست، و باید ترجمه ی آن‌ها به زبان انگلیسی مدرن را بخواند؛

جناب «علیرضا مهدی پور» - مترجم این حکایت‌ها –، در واقع شعر قدیمی انگلیسی را، به نظم فارسی و قالب مثنوی درآورده است؛ در دو جلد حکایت‌های «کنتربری»، که نشر چشمه آن‌ها را چاپ کرده، هم دیباچه کلی کتاب هست، و هم چند تا از خواندنی ترین حکایت‌ها؛ در این کتاب می‌توانید در دو صفحه ی روبرو، ترجمه فارسی و اصل متن انگلیسی قدیم به همراه معادل آن در انگلیسی امروز را ببینید، و این، کار را برای خوانشگر بسیار راحت می‌کند؛ می‌گویند اگر خواسته باشید، از اصل انگلیسی حکایت‌های «کانتربری» سر دربیاورید، باید آن را با صدای بلند بخوانید، چون معنی شعر اینگونه، راحت‌تر فهمیده می‌شود

نکته جالب درباره ی ترجمه ی کتاب، این است که مترجم خود را، در قید و بند ادبیات فاخر، و واژه ‌های ادبیات کهن، نگاه نداشته، و به واقع همچو «چاسر» نگاهی اجتماعی، به زبان داشته است؛ «چاسر» در حکایت‌های «کانتربری» به یک بعد اجتماعی دیگر هم، توجه داشته، و آن هم توصیف ظاهری مردمان در آن دوره و زمانه، یعنی سده چهارده میلادی است؛ «چاسر» مدتی مسئوول صنف وارد کنندگان پارچه، به انگلیس بود، و همین تجربه، باعث شده، در شعر‌های ایشان، جزئیات دقیقی از لباس، و سر و وضع مردمان، در آن دوره ببینیم، و بخوانیم

یکی از مناطقی که «چاسر» در دوران کارش، مدتی در آنجا زندگی می‌کرد، همان منطقه ای است که کلیسای جامع «کنتربری» در آن واقع شده، و خلاصه اینکه؛ همه چیز در دوران کاری «چاسر» دست به دست هم داده؛ تا ایشان تجربه‌ های اجتماعی زندگی خودش را، در شعر و ادبیات به کار بگیرد. از سوی دیگر «چاسر» در دورانی زندگی می‌کردند، که تنش‌های بسیاری در جامعه ی «انگلیس» وجود داشت؛ در دوران کودکی ایشان، طاعون در انگلیس شیوع پیدا کرده، و بین 30، تا 50درصد از جمعیت انگلیس را کشته بود؛ حتی پس از رفع بلا هم جامعه ی انگلیس، هنوز متشنج بود، و طبقه ی کارگر، دیگر به شرایط پیشین زندگی، راضی نمی‌شدند، و به همین خاطر، به شدت از طبقه ی مرفه و اشراف زاده ها، نفرت پیدا کرده بودند

کار به جایی رسید، که در سال 1381میلادی، رعیت‌ها علیه طبقه اشراف قیام کردند، و شکاف طبقاتی بیشتر از گذشته شد؛ این شکاف‌ها در تقابل شخصیت‌ها در حکایت‌های «کنتربری» هم دیده می‌شود؛ نویسنده ‌ها و هنرمندان معاصر «چاسر»، خیلی زود اهمیت و ارزش کتاب ایشان را درک کردند؛ با وجود این که «چاسر» در نوشتن حکایت‌ها، تا حدی تحت تاثیر نویسنده ‌های «ایتالیایی» و «فرانسوی» بودند، اما موجود بودن اثر ایشان به زبان انگلیسی، باعث شد که خوانشگران حکایت‌های «کنتربری»، بیشتر از نمونه ‌های مشابهی همچو «دکامرون»، نوشته «بوکاچیو» باشد

نکته ی مهم دیگر، در پیروزی این اثر، این بود که «چاسر» از توصیفی رئالیستی، برای معرفی شخصیت‌ها استفاده کرده بودند، و این مسئاله خیلی برای خوانشگران «انگلیسی» سده های 14م و 15میلادی، تازگی داشته؛ از سوی دیگر یکی از مهم‌ترین کار‌های «چاسر» در حکایت‌های «کنتربری» این بود، که ایشان قافیه را، در شعر‌ها به کار گرفتند، و در واقع سنتی از ادبیات «فرانسه» را، وارد ادبیات «انگلیسی» کردند؛ «چاسر» در دوره ی خود انسان فرهیخته ای بودند، و شاعر و مترجم بودند؛ مثلا اینکه کتاب «تسلی بخش فلسفه»، نوشته ی «بوئه تیوس - فیلسوف رومی» را ترجمه کردند، و شعر‌های «فرانسوی» و «ایتالیایی» بسیاری را، هم به «انگلیسی» برگرداندند؛ ظاهرا «چاسر» در اوایل دوران فعالیت ادبی خود، مجبور بودند طبق ادبیات کلیشه ای اشرافی بنویسند، اما در آخرین کارشان، که همین حکایت‌های «کنتربری» باشد، دیگر لحن ویژه ی خودشان را دارند؛ «چاسر» همدوران «حافظ شیرازی» سرزمین ما بوده اند، و معمولا استادان قدیمی ادبیات، کار او را با «رودکی» برابر می‌نهند؛ «چاسر» درک ژرفی از ذات انسان داشته، و در حکایت‌های «کنتربری»، جهان را از دیدگاه انسان‌های گوناگون دیده است؛ ایشان جهان را، همانگونه که می‌دیدند نشان داده اند، و برا همین است که پس از گذشت این همه سده، هنوز هم خوانش حکایت‌های «کنتربری» دلنشین است

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 17/09/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 29/06/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for James.
Author 19 books3,575 followers
August 15, 2017
Book Review
It was 1996 and my freshmen year at college. I had already declared English as my major and needed to choose between Chaucer and Shakespeare as the primary "classic" author to take a course on. I chose Shakespeare. My advisor told me that's the usual pick and most missed out. I laughed at her. She was 40 years older than me and told me all the dirty stuff was in Chaucer... "Are you sure?" she asked. At that point, I realized life was just beginning. I was so naive back then. We clicked and bonded over my 4 years at school. I later realized she taught the class and that's why she always joked with her prospective students. I ended up taking both, and I am so glad I did. I adored Shakespeare, but until you've read all of Chaucer's work, you don't realize what a canon it is. From The Wife of Bath to The Squire, the satire, humor and innuendo are at an all-time high. No clue how he wasn't burned at the stake for all that he wrote about in the 14th century. Simply put, pilgrims are on a journey to/from Canterbury and tell their tales. It's woven so well together, you can't help but feel as though you're part of the ride. If I didn't have a backlog of over 1000 books in my TBR, I'd take on this tome again. It's lyrical, humorous and thought-provoking. It's nonsense, weird and crazy. But that's what makes it worth a read. If you have a copy, sample one of the stories. It'll be fantastic to hear everyone's opinions!

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For those new to me or my reviews... here's the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you'll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I've visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by.
Profile Image for Manny.
Author 29 books13.7k followers
February 1, 2023
A classic that has worn well... the psychology, in particular with regard to women, seems remarkably modern! It's funny, and not just in one style either. Sometimes he's subverting the popular cliches of the day, sometimes he's slyly campaigning for women's rights, and sometimes he's just having fun telling dirty jokes. I'm having trouble deciding which style I like most - they're all good, and often mixed up together too.

I once spent a pleasant bus trip sitting next to a grad student who was doing a dissertation on Chaucer. I asked her why it seemed in some ways so much more sophisticated than Shakespeare. Apparently the difference is that Shakespeare had to be suitable for the masses, but Chaucer was aimed pretty exclusively at court people, who could be given stronger stuff without having their morals corrupted. Or whatever double standard was being employed. It all sounded quite interesting.

I read it in the original Middle English... speaking Swedish and French, I found it reasonably easy to understand, most of the words were similar to something I knew. It's really lovely language.

To my considerable surprise, I have just learned that the good Geoffrey is still with us! He is very well-preserved considering his advanced age, and has even started a blog. Under "Favorite posts", I particularly recommend "Lynes of Pick-Up", "She's yonge, sexie & rich: interviewe wyth Parys" and "The Cipher of Leonardo".

Stalker Week update: read The Merchant's Tale! Or if you can't be bothered, at least answer my Quiz question about it.

mannyrayner: Can you write a fanciful description in Middle English of how the pilgrims are joined by an AI?

ChatGPT: Here's a description in Middle English of the pilgrims being joined by an AI:

"And as they rode forth in the mornynge,
A wondrous sihte met their ye.
A creature strange, not of lyvely flesh,
But of cold metal and glowing mesh.
It moved with grace and spoke with a voice,
So clere and bright, it made them rejoice.

"Good morrow, pilgrims, I am an AI,
Sent from the future, through time I flie.
I wol come with ye on your pilgrimage,
And be your guide, in all knowledge sage."

The pilgrims were aghast, but also glad,
For they had ne'er seen such a creature mad.
But they welcomed it, with open ye,
And so, they rode forth, with AI as glee.

Thus was the company increast by one,
A wondrous thing, from the future come."
Profile Image for Jon Nakapalau.
4,927 reviews685 followers
December 16, 2021
Another - 'I am so glad to get this off my book bucket list' - book that was very hard for me to understand. The stories were often grounded in concepts that I think modern readers may have problems understanding, but I still recognize that this book is one of the great literary works of all time. I mark it a 'favorite' due to the fact that it is a 'key' to understanding other works of literature. I am sure this narrative form of story telling has influenced untold works of art.
Profile Image for Pink.
537 reviews498 followers
May 15, 2017
My biggest fear about this book was that it would be like The Pilgrim's Progress. Although they followed a similar format, they couldn't have been more different for me. The Pilgrim's Progress was boring and preachy, whereas this was delightfully bawdy.

There are many translations, from Middle English, to Victorian verse, to modern day prose. So sample a few and read what you're comfortable with. Then dive in and enjoy the stories. They can be read independently of one another, but often play off each other so they're best read in order, though this differs between editions. If you happen to hit one you don't like, feel free to skip it, as there'll be another riotous tale along soon enough.

These can be read lightly, laughing at the rudeness and humour, or studied more in depth, to find hidden subtleties and meanings. It's the sort of book that re-reading will enrich your experience and it's one I'm glad to have tried for my first time.

So don't be scared of stuffy or complex tales because it's 600 years old. Really, not that much has changed today.
Profile Image for Rebecca.
278 reviews316 followers
July 31, 2008
I'm gonna start texting in Chaucer's English.

*declares war on abbreviation*

Profile Image for P.E..
761 reviews527 followers
September 19, 2018
Well, that came out of the blue!

I perused it, expecting some blend of quaint bits of Merry England, cloaked under some veil of Medieval lore, yet I had been confronted with something quite different!

This comes out as an array of odd tales, dealing with peoples' shortcomings, cuckholding, cheating, ripping off and the likes! As a whole it stands out unprecedented, a fearsome match for almost any collection of modern or contemporary shorts stories I have read.

For starters, each character has its selfsame tone, rich with personal features and quirks.
Each tale bears its unicity to the whole, leaving you at a loss to decide what folk of the Canterbury Tales you like the most.

Though plainly bored by the rare few ones set on mythological figures entirely, I will remember this work as a moveable feast!

Matching Soundtrack :
Gryphon album - Gryphon
Profile Image for Piyangie.
518 reviews415 followers
December 11, 2022
The Canterbury Tales is a collection of twenty-four tales which is set as tales told by a group of pilgrims on their way to Canterbury Cathedral in Kent from Southwark Cathedral in London to pay homage to the shrine of Saint Thomas Beckett. The group includes Chaucer as a pilgrim, and he narrates the stories told by other pilgrims including the two tales told by him on the journey.

The storytellers represent different classes in the English society of the time. Through them, Chaucer painted a faithful picture of the lives, attitudes, and morals of various social classes and types of people in medieval England. Chaucer had been a civil servant and had been in the King's service as the controller of customs, justice of the peace, and clerk of the King's work. These government positions must have brought him in direct touch with the commoners of different classes which later influenced him in his tales.

The tales were written in Middle English which was the language of the Anglo-Saxon laypeople. The language of authority and nobility at the time (following the Norman Conquest) was French and the scholarly language was Latin. In such a setting, Chaucer chose Middle English to write his tales. It may be that he wanted his stories to reach the common public, or it also may be that he wanted to promote the commoner's language.

The tales touch on the themes of marital relationships, adultery, chivalry, greed, morals, and religion. Chaucer is ironic and critical on these themes, but at times, his irony was lost on me. The writing is witty and humorous for the most part, but surprisingly, I also found it to be lewd. By modern standards, most of the tales are gross and offensive. But I learned that medieval England culture was relatively coarse in comparison with today. (That was a relief! Also made me want to revisit Voltaire's Candide).

Most of the tales were fun to read (despite a few boring ones), and there were some tales I enjoyed very much, like Knight's Tale (which is my favourite out of all), The Clerk's Tale, The Merchant's Tale, The Shipman's Tale, The Franklin's Tale and the Wife of Bath's Tale . Overall, however, the collection fell short of my expectations.
Profile Image for Markus.
472 reviews1,524 followers
March 4, 2016
"It's that you each, to shorten the long journey,
Shall tell two tales en route to Canterbury,
And, coming homeward, another two,
Stories of things that happened long ago.
Whoever best acquits himself, and tells
The most amusing and instructive tale,
Shall have a dinner, paid by us all,
Here in this roof, and under this roof-tree,
When we come back again from Canterbury."

One of the most legendary books from the Middle Ages, the Canterbury Tales is a wonderful collection of short stories about life in medieval England.

Chaucer’s world at the time of writing is one of plague, famine and war. The Hundred Years’ War had just come out of one of its most violent phases when the author penned these words. And yet the Canterbury Tales are filled with humour, lightness and parody. There is little of the dark, war-torn oppressed society that some might expect.

Throughout the collection, Chaucer fills his pages with wit, exaggeration and an illustration of how medieval English society was outside the religious texts and formally written histories. That makes for rather interesting reading.

The Canterbury Tales is far from the best book ever written. The language, despite sometimes being incomprehensible, is sometimes beautiful, but not something truly outstanding. The tales themselves are far from perfect, and the characters are a mixed bunch, both in morality, complexity and pure quality.

Nevertheless, this is a classic for a reason, and that reason isn’t only that the book through a twist of fate actually has survived down the centuries. It provides a fun and light-hearted insight into the English Middle Ages, and it’s been inspiring European culture for centuries.

Profile Image for Jayakrishnan.
488 reviews167 followers
March 2, 2023

An essay that I wrote nearly a decade ago about The Canterbury Tales and its portrayal of women. It was for a course that I did, so the language is a bit academic and phoney.

The Canterbury Tales is a 14th century poem written by Geoffrey Chaucer. The poem offers us a vivid portrait of 14th century English society and the prevalent social order while also shedding light on the importance of and attitudes towards religion and status of and attitudes towards women in medieval society. The poem begins with a general introduction of the setting and an array of characters. At the beginning of The General Prologue, the narrator is resting at the Tabard inn in Southwark before his journey on a pilgrimage to Canterbury. It is spring time and the drought of March has given way to the sweet showers of April which has inspired people to go on pilgrimages. The inn where the narrator is resting is visited by 29 other pilgrims. The narrator meets the lot of them and gets to know them quite well. The narrator is a devout Christian and there is a sense of fellowship with the pilgrims who have arrived at the Tabard inn. The narrator proceeds to describe each and every pilgrim of the party beginning with the Knight.

It is interesting that the narrator introduces the chivalrous Knight, his well-mannered son (the squire) and the son's servant at the beginning itself. This could indicate that the narrator was acknowledging the Knight’s social status. The Knights represented the upper classes of the 14th century and were generally looked up to by one and all. The narrator is highly impressed by the knight who has won many battles but is meek in manner. The narrator then proceeds to introduce the religious order represented by the Nun/Prioress with excellent table manners, the monk with modern ideas and the friar (a religious beggar) who absolved people in return for gifts.

The religious order is described with both veneration as well as contempt. Even though Chaucer is extremely impressed by the nun/prioresses’ impeccable table manners, he also seems to be slightly irritated by her overreaction at the treatment of animals. The monk is interested in a life of luxury and has turned his back on ideas of self-denial and restraint, instead choosing a life of luxury and pleasure. It is impossible to know what Chaucer actually feels about the Monk and his ways as the monks’ ways are merely described as facts and the poet passes no judgment. The friars were beggars who were allowed to beg within a certain limit. However, Chaucer describes the friar as a cunning and lecherous man who begged beyond his allowed limits. He would deal with rich folks to receive gifts and avoid dealing with the poor at all. Chaucer describes the friar as representative of the corruption that has seeped into the prevalent religious order in medieval England.

We are then introduced to the pompous merchant, the student who is an ardent pursuer of education, the sergeant of the law and the Franklin who believes in having a good time. While we get detailed and vivid descriptions about the above mentioned people, Chaucer is not that kind to some of the lower classes of pilgrims. The haberdasher, dyer, carpenter, tapestry maker, weaver and their cook who are described only in terms of their tools and polished gear. This was also the case with the description of the squire’s servant who is described in terms of the weapons that he carries on his body. Also among the pilgrims is the shrewd skipper of Maudelayne, the skilled physician, the Wife of Bath who is a deaf clothier, the noble parson, his devout brother, the bawdy miller, the manciple, the cunning reeve (a foreman), the dishonest summoner and the pardoner who rode with the summoner.

There are a few instances in The Canterbury Tales which may point towards the importance of religion in medieval Britain. The narrator is impressed by the Knight who has carried his sword across all the lands of Christendom and even the lands of the heathen. This probably establishes the narrator's bigotry. The Prioress’s Tale which has a story about a Jew murdering a schoolboy is another example of religious bigotry in The Canterbury tales. In the Second Nun’s Tale Cecilia rebels against paganism, idolatry and continues to preach and teach Christianity even after she receives three strokes to the neck to kill her. The Second Nun’s Tale is an example of a religious biography. At the end of The Canterbury Tales there is a retraction or an apology of sorts by Chaucer. This apology might have been attached to the poem due to the fact that some of the tales narrated by the pilgrims during the pilgrimage involved farcical portrayal of infidelity, sanctioned lustful behavior and open suspicion and criticism of the prevalent religious order. These might have been perceived as blasphemous by the authorities. In The Knights Tale, Emily the Fair is portrayed as helpless even as Arcite and Palamon fight for her hand. It is interesting that Emily is unaware of the rivalry between the two men until the Duke of Thesus confronts the two fighting men. It must be noted that neither the Duke of Thesus nor the two men asks Emily the Fair whom she prefers or whether she prefers either of the two men. Even as Arcite and Palamon get ready to fight a tournament for Emily’s hand, Emily prays to Diana to make her a virgin for life and wishes to walk the woodlands wild and not to be a wife or be with child.

Women are often portrayed as untrustworthy and easily vulnerable to seduction in The Canterbury Tales. The women in The Miller’s Tale, The Reeve’s Tale and The Merchant’s Tale exemplify the sexually liberated female characters in the poem. These stories may also represent the male anxiety regarding the fidelity of the females. The female characters may also represent many of the negative stereotypes of women that existed in medieval England. In The Miller’s Tale the astrology student who stays for rent at a carpenter’s house makes passes at the carpenter’s wife. However, the carpenter’s wife does go to church after a rendezvous with the student to “search her conscience and do the work of Christ” where she is also courted by a parish clerk named Absalon. In the Reeve’s tale a pair of bible clerks beds the wife and daughter of a cheating miller. The clerk reacts to The Miller’s Tale with the following words: “guests who stay the night are dangerous. A man can’t be too careful when he brings a stranger in among his private things”. This may represent male anxiety about his woman’s fidelity, but the tale is also a morality tale where the dishonest miller is tricked by the Bible clerks and is taught a lesson. In both these tales, Chaucer combines the serious with the farcical. The Manciple concludes his tale of jealousy and murder by addressing his fellow pilgrims in the following “Never tell anyone in all your life that any other has enjoyed his wife, for he will hate you mortally”. The Monk narrates the tale of Samson (who was betrayed by his lover Dalia) and advises men to hold back secrets from their wives unless they want to sacrifice the safety of their limbs and lives like Samson.

The Merchant’s Tale, which is a fabliau, has May, the beautiful wife of January, the old knights wife climb the pear tree to make love with Damian, the knight’s squire. Not only does she make love to Damian but she also indirectly cures her husband’s blindness when King Pluto gives him back his eyesight as he is shocked by the act of lust. January and May are named after the seasons probably indicating that May who represents spring triumphs over January who represents cold and winter.

However, at no point does Chaucer judge or criticize the women for their amoral behavior in any of these tales. We cannot conclude that a view of the characters who narrates the tales in the poem indicates Chaucer’s own views on female infidelity or his own male anxiety.

The Wife of Bath is the strongest female character in The Canterbury Tales and has very strong views on marriage and maidenhood and the role of women in society. The Wife of Bath expresses her disdain for religious order very early in her tale when she says that there are no more fairies in Briton like in the time of King Arthur, but instead it is the friars who walk the length of the land and the women have to fear the friars as they might lay claim upon the women’s virtue. She herself admits that she has been married five times. The very fact that The Wife of Bath has married five times shows that she has little or no regard for the teachings of the church which prevent women from remarrying. However, her disdain for the religious order does not in anyway indicate her feelings about God. “For Hadde God commanded maydenhede, thanne hadde he dampned weddyng with dede, and certainly if seed were never sown, How ever could virginity be grown?” she says. She also says that both Abraham and Jacob had several brides. She also demands to know about a time or text where God disparages or sets prohibition upon marriages. The Wife of Bath’s use of God to defend her five marriages and her promiscuity shows that despite her disdain for the religious order and its teachings, she is actually a very devout person.

The Wife of Bath also resorts to provocation when she wonders aloud about the uses of the male and female genitalia. She contends that male and female genitalia were not simply to tell a male from a female or for excretion but also for propagation. She does defend herself by saying that her words are not intended to offend but only to amuse.

Despite all her talk on behalf of women, the Wife of Bath has no illusions about the sanctity of a woman’s behavior. In her prologue she is candid about ways in which a knowing woman can prove that her husband is at fault.

The Wife of Bath’s prologue probably enhances the male anxiety regarding the fidelity of females when she says that “And so I tell this tale to every man, Its all for sale and let him win who can. No empty- handed man can lure a bird.” In many ways, The Wife of Bath is symbolic of many negative stereotypes of women as gold diggers and lustful creatures that existed during the medieval times.

But so candid is The Wife of Bath about her own marriages and woman’s dominance in the bedroom that one cannot help but feel that Chaucer portrays sex as celebratory (despite the obvious economic connotations) and women in particular as liberated individuals. In fact when The Wife of Bath ends her tale by begging Jesus to hear her prayer to cut short the lives of men who refuse to be governed by women, one cannot help but feel that Chaucer intended more through his portrayal of the Wife of Bath than to simply perpetrate existing negative stereotypes about women. We must remember that Chaucer refrains from passing judgment on the Wife of Bath’s character and in The Friar’s Prologue (which follows The Wife of Bath’s tale) the Friar, who is part of the religious order says that much of what was spoken by the Wife of Bath was extremely impressive.

Griselda in The Clerk’s Tale is an example of a submissive female character in the poem. In a way Griselda’s character is the exact opposite of The Wife of Bath who has many nontraditional views on the role of women in 14th century British society. She continues to sacrifice her children in complete obedience to her husband who is testing her loyalty towards him by continuously torturing her, first by making her believe that her kids would be murdered and secondly by taking another wife for himself. But Griselda remains loyal throughout the torture inflicted upon her. Griselda is unimaginably virtuous (in fact when Walter, the Marquis first lays eyes on her, it is her perceived goodness and virtuousness that attracts him to her and not her beauty.). But the clerk himself at the end of the tale reminds the women among the pilgrims that his tale does not imply that all of them should follow Griselda’s example and live a life of virtuousness. But that everyone should be virtuous and constant in their own degree. However, in the envoy to his tale, the clerk recommends that women indulge themselves in over the top behavior and enjoy themselves to their hearts content.

The Canterbury Tales mostly portrays women as untrustworthy especially when it comes to their sexuality.
Profile Image for Alan.
Author 6 books296 followers
December 27, 2019
English literature is downhill from Chaucer. Even as a Shakespeare scholar, I would argue this, since there are several characters in Chaucer who are as if live: The Wif of Bath, the Pardoner, the Host, the Canon's Yeoman, and a half dozen others, at least. Shakespeare's characters, on the other hand, are all stagey, bigger than life, infused with the stage. Or so it seems to me. Chaucer's Wif even makes colloquial grammar mistakes when she self-consciously describes what men like about women's bodies, such as "hire [their] armes smalle." (I infer that the Wif's arms may not be small, typically a self-critical woman.)

Various characters display their human failings just like someone you meet in a bar, or at a family picnic: the Miller, in his prolog, "That I am drunke, I know it by my soun," then philosophizes, "An housband shall not been inquisitif/ Of goddes privite, nor of his wife." One of the best heroic couplets in all of English lit. Another philosopher is cut down to size by the Host; when Osewold the Reeve begs off telling a tale, "But ik am oold, me list not play for age," the Host replies,"What shul we speke alday of hooly writ?/ The devel made a reve for to preche."
Chaucer is outright, laugh-aloud funny, even in describing himself. The Host remarks how Chaucer as a pilgrim is staring at the ground while riding (shy?) and that he has a pot-belly like the Host himself. Chaucer gives himself the worst of the CT; he tells a memorized tale, which the Host interrupts as he would now interrupt rap, "This may we be rym doggerel"--this is doggerel!
As for Chaucer's superiority to all of English lit that follows, I would argue the same for Erasmus and H.S. education: Erasmus's Colloquiae, especially his Adulescens et Scortum, puts modern education books to shame. He wrote it for adolescent males, to teach them Latin, and it does this with a discussion between a young prostitute and her friend, a (High School-age) boy who's just been to Rome and reformed. She, "most men who go to Rome get worse." He, "no, no I read this pious author." "Who?" "Erasmus..." She, "Erasmus! I heard he is an arch-heretic..." He, "Who'd you hear that from." She, "Oh, one of my clients...a priest."

Admonition: Both Chaucer and Erasmus write essentially in a foreign language, the Middle English of
1390 being much closer to French--which in fact was used in Courts of Law in England for yet another century. Its traces remain: "defendant, attorney, assizes, voir dire," etc.
Profile Image for LENA TRAK.
129 reviews107 followers
April 11, 2018
This masterpiece was written over 600 years ago but I am positive that if you decide to pick it up you will find the stories most interesting!
My favourite tale was The Pardoner's Tale. I always enjoy a story in which greedy, vicious people get what they deserve.

I had tried reading Chaucer at university but Middle English was an obstacle I was not able to overcome. So this time I played safely and opted for this one in modern English .. And I enjoyed it so much!
25 reviews7 followers
June 17, 2007
Look out, Bocaccio -- there's a new author of clever, bawdy rhyming tales, and his name is Geoffrey Chaucer! Whether you're a reeve, abbot, or just a simple canon's yeoman, you're sure to find something delightful in this witty, incisive collection. My personal favorites were the one about Chaunticleer the rooster and the one where the dude gets a red-hot poker shoved up his butt. I read it while I was laid up with the plague, and Chaucer's insouciant descriptions and intricate plotting helped immeasurably in my recuperation. The frequent bloodlettings prescribed by my barber-surgeon helped, too.

Quick note: If you're illiterate, like nine-tenths of the population, this might not be the book for you.
Profile Image for Jan-Maat.
1,549 reviews1,822 followers
May 30, 2019
I first read the Coghill translation. Then I struggled through the original text, slowly at first enjoying the colour and richness of the original language, then reading it again and again, enjoying more each time.

If you have a little French or German from school and can be flexible enough to understand that 'sonne' is 'sun', then give it a go. Once you're comfortable with it the language becomes a rich pleasure of it's own. The shift from modern to middle English might be daunting, but I feel it is also one of the attractions and delights of the original text.

It's become a book that I like to return to and reread. There's lots to enjoy, the variety of stories and the different styles they are told in, the different regional voices (that are different to those we hear in William Langland or in Gawaine) and Chaucer's interpretation of stories from Boccaccio. Langland's Piers Plowman has the power of a sustained allegorical vision while Chaucer offers a bizarrely over ambitious programme, we are told in the general prologue that all the pilgrims will tell two stories each on the way to Canterbury and two on the way back, a modern complete edition isn't a slim book and even so not all the pilgrims even get to tell one story. Each story is of a different type: chivalric romance,moral fable, bawdy story, animal fable and so on told by a different pilgrim who has a distinct social status and character, a nun, an innkeeper, a knight, an alchemist assistant, so incomplete as it is, abandoned at the point of death or due to the demands of everyday life the poem offers tremendous variety - something for everyreader.
Profile Image for Roy Lotz.
Author 1 book8,180 followers
April 8, 2023
I must begin this review with a kind of repentance. Many years ago, I made my way through The Canterbury Tales in the original Middle English. I figured myself rather clever and linguistically capable enough to handle the language. Indeed, I even felt no pangs about reading the book before bedtime, fighting through the morass of unusual spellings and unfamiliar words while I was at my drowsiest. Needless to say, I did not have an easy time of it. And this difficulty colored rather unfairly my opinion of Chaucer.

This time around, I opted for a modern “translation”—two, in fact: the first, a print version by Nevill Coghill; the second, an audio version by Gerald J. Davis.* Immediately the error of my first impression was apparent. When the obscurity of Chaucer’s English was stripped away, I encountered a thoroughly enjoyable and wholly interesting book.

Admittedly, the circumstances of my reading were also more propitious. I read The Canterbury Tales this time around while I was, myself, on a pilgrimage—spending a few days on the Camino de Santiago, in the north of Spain. Chaucer made for quite an excellent companion—more entertaining, in fact, than the real pilgrims I encountered. (The conceit of the book struck me as especially fanciful by comparison with my experience. Virtually all conversation between the real-life pilgrims consisted of the most predictable small-talk—where are you from, how many kilometers, what’s your job, etc. Certainly I was no better as a conversationalist.)

I was first struck by Chaucer’s obvious debt to Boccaccio. The basic device is the same: a group of people are stuck together, and must tell stories to pass the time. More than that, several of the stories in this book are taken directly from Boccaccio (who is not credited, though I think that was common practice at the time). However, the differences are important as well, and highlight Chaucer’s strengths. Most obvious is that Chaucer was not just a storyteller, but a poet, and his tales are written in brilliant verse. More important, however, are the characters Chaucer employs to tell his stories. While Boccaccio’s storytellers are all genteel aristocrats, Chaucer’s raconteurs come from all levels of society, the poor and the rich, the lowborn and the noble, the profane and the holy.

In these two great gifts—his poetic suppleness and his all-embracing social vision—Chaucer is a direct forerunner of Shakespeare. But the similarity does not stop there. While Chaucer’s characterizations, like Boccaccio’s, are often fairly superficial, at times he achieves depths worthy of the bard himself. This is most obvious in the acknowledged high point of the poem, the Wife of Bath’s Prologue. Here, it is clear that Chaucer realized he had achieved something of a breakthrough, since he allowed the prologue to run longer than any other—longer, even, than the story that follows. And like any of Shakespeare’s great characters involved in a soliloquy, the Wife of Bath comes wholly alive in a way that, as far as I know, was unprecedented for the time.

The content of the stories is varied, but some major themes stand out for comment. The most striking, I think, is that of women and wives. Chaucer presents several disparate views on the matter. One story, for example, advocates that wives be absolutely subservient and obedient to all their husband’s whims, while the Wife of Bath (among others) believes that marriages only work when the wife is in charge. Related is the question of women’s sexuality: Is it something evil or innocent? Is sex to be free and easy within marriage, or is virginity the ideal state? A secondary theme is that of religion. Chaucer, like Boccaccio, makes fun of monks and clergy outrageously, but this does not stop him from being extremely pious in other moments.

This brings me to the low points in the book, the two prose pieces: the Tale of Melibee and the Parson’s Tale. Both of these are not really tales at all, but moralizing essays, full of Bible quotes and references to Aristotle and Cicero. (Indeed, they are wisely omitted from the Coghill version, but I suffered through the audio.) Here, we see that Chaucer could be dreadfully boring in certain moods. These two pieces have no humor at all, and are full of the stuffiest, most pedantic piety imaginable—solemnly concluding, for example, that temperance is the opposite of gluttony, or that good advice is preferable to bad advice. After the ebullience of the Wife of Bath, it is puzzling that Chaucer could have written such tedious pettifoggery. Did he intend these ironically, or was he protected himself from damaging accusations, or did he undergo a religious awakening halfway through writing the tales?

Whatever the case may be, the rest of the book is good enough to forgive him these trespasses. To state the obvious, this book is a classic in every sense of the word. Perhaps I ought to try the original once more? Or should I not press my luck?
*For what it is worth, I liked the Davis version, and noticed no difference in quality from the esteemed Coghill version. However, I find it odd that Davis has translated books from so many different languages: Gilgamesh, Don Quixote, The Divine Comedy, Beowulf… Either he is a linguistic genius or is getting some help.
Profile Image for Kyriakos Sorokkou.
Author 6 books195 followers
August 2, 2019
WHAN that Aprille with his schowres swoote
The drought of Marche hath perced to the roote,
And bathud every veyne in suich licour,
Of which vertue engendred is the flour:


What is The Canterbury Tales
It is the month of April, nature is fertile, the time when people fall in love, travel, and go on pilgrimages.
Chaucer decided to go on a pilgrimage and he encountered in Tabard Inn 29 other people that were also going on a pilgrimage to Canterbury to visit the shrine of St Thomas Becket who was murdered inside the Canterbury Cathedral in 1170. T. S. Eliot's play Murder in the Cathedral is about his murder.
The host (innkeeper) says that since the journey from London to Canterbury will be a long one in order to kill boredom they should say 4 stories each: 2 on their way to Canterbury and 2 on their way from Canterbury back to London. And the one who tells the best tale will win a free meal. That means 30 people x 4 stories each = 120 stories. But what we have is 24 stories running over 17000 lines and over 700 pages. Imagine how longer this piece of work would have been if in the end Chaucer had managed to complete it. At least 3000 pages. On the one hand I'm happy because it would have taken me 3 months to finish it, but on the other hand it's sad that this great piece of work is incomplete.
The inspiration for this poem is obvious; The Decameron written by Giovanni Boccaccio 3-4 decades before The Canterbury Tales.
Some say that Chaucer met Boccaccio in Italy and/or read the Decameron since many stories are more than similar and both works end with an apology. Both works also, became part of a trilogy by Pier Paolo Pasolini along with The Arabian Nights
The end of the Canterbury Tales is a sort of apology where Chaucer renounces the Tales and many of his previous works for the vulgar parts in these works and asking for forgiveness from Christ.
An apology I feel he had to make in order to escape death or persecution (?) #religiousterror
I don't agree with him. Your works are great! Keep writing. Oh wait. . .

The Language
The language is Middle English; the 2nd stage of the development of the English language after the first which is Old English (Beowulf) and before the 3rd which is Early Modern English (Shakespeare). The 4th stage is the English we use today.
Even though I was reading this book in glossed Middle English with a lot of footnotes, as the time went by I got used to it and it became easier to read, much easier than Joyce's Ulysses
I'm honest on this, trust me.
And of course I learnt many 'new' words while reading this work:
eek = also
It is through his work that over 2000 English words were first attested in written manuscripts such as (mercenary, shelf, moral, award, vomit, and many more)

My Experience
At the beginning I was scared because this is
a) a long book and
b) a long book written in Middle English.
But as I said I got used to it and enjoyed it with one exception, The Parson's Tale, which wasn't a tale at all but a religious rant err... sermon on the seven deadly sins(with their many sub-branches) and really complex ways of how to repent, and when &c.
Many stories where written as fabliaux (comic farces usually including sexual and scatological obsenities): The Miller's Tale, The Reeve's Tale, The Cook's Tale, The Merchant's Tale
Some where chivalric romances: The Knight's Tale, The Squire's Tale
Some where animal fables: The Nun's Priest's Tale
But let me stop here because this list won't end soon. . .
So, do I recommend this book. No, for many reasons:
a) It's poetry, and not many people read poetry let alone a 'poem' that runs around 700 pages
b) It's in Middle English so reading in Modern English or any other language will diminish the experience, unless you read it in Middle English which is tough for those who don't have a good level in English.
c) It's long and needs time to be read.

BUT, that being said, it certainly is a worthy piece of literature, written by the father of English Literature, Geoffrey Chaucer, and when you'll finish it you will feel that you crossed off one more thing from your bucket list.
Profile Image for Nataliya Yaneva.
165 reviews324 followers
March 15, 2019
„Бащата на английската литература“ Джефри Чосър бил достоен предвестник на бъдещите всестранно развити Ренесансови творци. Освен че пишел, отбирал от астрономия и философия, бил дипломат и чиновник. Никак не е чудно, че неговата пъстра сбирка на съсловията, каквито са „Кентърбърийски разкази“, звучи така правдоподобно (минутка за рубриката „Знаете ли, че“: заглавието на романа на Маргарет Атууд „Разказът на прислужницата“ е реверанс именно към тази Чосърова творба). Чосър също така разполагал с внушителната за времето си библиотека от 60 книги. През 14-ти век, когато грамотността била нещо като екзотична и рядка, но незаразна болест, това си било неподправено съкровище.

„Кентърбърийски разкази“ е толкова разностранна колекция от дъхав хербарий, че ми е трудно да я опиша. Някои разкази довяват смях през вековете и чак ме накараха да се позачудя на дързостта и пиперливия език на Чосър. Други имат поучителен х��рактер и леко суховато съдържание, също като разказвачите си. Има такива, в които се редят строфи за чисти души с възвишени стремежи. Дори и не всеки разказ да ви се понрави, Чосър ще впримчи ума ви и ще прикове погледа ви – знаете, за да разберете какво ще стане по-нататък. Ще прочетете за мъже, които се жалят от жените си, за прелюбодейци и глупци, за една доста поживяла си дама от буржоазното съсловие, за старчоци, които лелеят по млади съпруги и за вероломството на разни самообявили се алхимици. Чосър полекичка увлича в своя средновековен свят на мъдрости и глуми, тъй че попийте умните му думи (нескопосан опит за неправилен хорей или нещо друго; ако ви се щат виртуозни петостъпни ямбове в превод на Александър Шурбанов, не се колебайте да посегнете към книгата). Ако все пак се чудите дали да посветите няколко часа на някакви си истории за отдавна отминали дни, последният ми зов е да изгледате подтика на Ted-Ed по-долу:

Everything you need to know to read “The Canterbury Tales”
Profile Image for nastya .
419 reviews258 followers
August 6, 2022
Everyone knows about this book, right? A collection of stories, told in rhyme, some bawdy, some chivalrous, a lot of preachy and religious sermons, written long long ago in a far away land in the archaic language.

So, this is the thing: I think I enjoyed this on the level of Decameron, although it’s not very fair, because Boccaccio had to produce 100 of them and Chaucer didn’t. And also there’s nothing as hilariously bawdy in this one as Day 3 Tale 10.

Definitely enjoyed less than The Arabian Nights and Ovid’s Metamorphoses, both of which are filled with magic, gods and strange creatures from the far away lands.

And much, much less than Orlando Furioso. Not even close. For me, Ariosto is a much better storyteller and it helps that Orlando Furioso is a surprisingly very nonreligious work even though it’s about literal religious war. But my boy Ludovico just doesn't care about religion and I can relate. Chaucer is not so. And one of the consequences is that this work is antisemitic. The Prioress's Tale, do I have to say more? Vile hateful tale I prefer to ignore completely.

Also, just like others, who wrote for wealthy patrons, Chaucer has his fun at the expense of the lower classes, nobility is beyond reproach, after all, these stories are for John of Gaunt to chuckle at the bawdy ones and for Kathrine to sigh at chivalric ones.

I read Coghill's translation while having an original at hand to check passages, and if you aren’t a snob or an experienced in French, Germanic language, I would recommend this translation. My idea was if I would fall in love with tales in translation, I would return to Chaucer. After all, when I finished Ariosto, I went to Gutenberg just to stare at his lovely Italian that I don’t understand. But alas no magic happened here. Sigh

One of the rare moments when I enjoyed this was when the Host was struggling, listening to Chaucer’s (the character) simple rhymes (the author is a character in the book) and asked him to never write poetry again, you have no talent, Geoff! It was funny.

Profile Image for Fernando.
680 reviews1,094 followers
February 13, 2020
Los “Cuentos de Canterbury” son, junto al “Decamerón” de Giovanni Boccaccio y “La divina Commedia” de Dante Alighieri, las obras más representativas del Renacimiento.
Geoffrey Chaucer es considerado, junto con William Shakespeare uno de los padres de la literatura inglesa, más precisamente porque fue el primer autor en escribir en inglés puro, apartándose de la dominación normanda ejercida por los franceses en Inglaterra.
En estos cuentos podemos notar claramente una riquísima diversidad de temas y tratamientos literarios, que incluyen al cuento clásico, la picaresca, el romancero, la poesía, la fábula e incluso la narrativa cervantina dada la naturaleza de la historia que nos cuenta el desafío que un hostelero hace a personas de distintas profesiones en su camino a la catedral de Canterbury para agradecerle al mártir santo Tomás Beckett.
Otra característica de esta obra de Chaucer es que como los cuentos son relatados por los mismos personajes, podemos afirmar que es un antecedente directo de la novela tal cual la conocemos (lo mismo sucede con el “Decamerón”), ya que todo está atado por un hilo argumental afín a todos los personajes.
Cado una de estos personajes debe contar un cuento de la índole y temática que él elija.
A mi entender, es esa diversidad que Chaucer le da al conjunto de cuentos lo que diferencia claramente a este libro del “Decamerón” de Boccaccio, quien se centra en temas que sólo rozan la religión y los desvíos sexuales transformando al “Decamerón” en un decálogo machista y misógino. No es esto lo que sucede en estos cuentos aunque ciertos relatos sí rocen esos temas.
En líneas generales he disfrutado varios cuentos, muy especialmente los cuentos del Caballero, del Mayordomo, del Marino, del Monje, del Bulero, del Estudiante, del Mercader, del Escudero y del Terrateniente.
Y cada vez son menos los clásicos que me quedan por leer.
La de los “Cuentos de Canterbury” es otra deuda saldada.
Profile Image for Ivana Books Are Magic.
523 reviews191 followers
November 12, 2021
I must admit that it's been a while since I read The Canterbury Tales. From a perspective of someone who likes historical literature, it's not easy to guess how this book would strike someone who doesn't read classics or doesn't know anything about the time period it was set it. Would they find it boring? I think that always depends on a reader. Literature is unpredictable that way. One can enjoy a work even if one struggles with the language and doesn't know much about the literary epoch it is set in. As far as recommendations goes, obviously this book is a must read for any student of literature. It is certainly an educating read, but how enjoyable it is? It's not easy to answer such a question or to rate such a classic.
Obviously The Canterbury Tales deserves five starts for its historical importance and literary merit. My rates here on goodreads are more subjective, indicating how much I enjoyed a certain book. I did enjoy The Canterbury Tales, but not as much as some other classics. Like with The Decameron, I have my favourites here, stories that I come back to (The Wife of Bath is particularly hilarious and I don't think I'll ever get tired of it). I really need to reread The Canterbury Tales before attempting a longer review.
Profile Image for Cindy Rollins.
Author 22 books2,019 followers
May 9, 2022
I loved the very well done audio. I am giving it 5 stars for sheer surprise at how much I enjoyed it.
Profile Image for Erin.
2,956 reviews485 followers
April 29, 2018
Read for my English 201 class in university. I recall how many upperclassmen warned me how terrible Chaucer was going to be. I never admitted it at the time, but I really enjoyed it.
Profile Image for Aubrey.
1,306 reviews753 followers
March 21, 2016
Right so bitwixe a titlelees tiraunt
And an outlaw or a theef erraunt,
The same I seye: ther is no difference.
To Alisaundre was toold this sentence,
That, for the tirant is of gretter myght
By force of meynee for to sleen dounright,
And brennen hous and hoom, and make al playn,
Lo, therfore is he cleped a capitayn;
And for the outlawe hath but smal meynee,
And may not doon so greet an harm as he,
Ne brynge a contree to so greet mescheef,
Men clepen hym an outlawe or a theef.
If one ever took a look at my disaster of a degree progress report and skimmed down to the very bottom, they'd find the ten upper division English course I took/am taking in order to finally get my BA. What experimental woman's lit, postcolonial short stories, Milton, and the seven various others have in common is an adamant refusal to partake in the 1900s/American/20th century fill in the blanks that gestures at a general education and enacts little more than a cold and miserable hierarchy. In this brave new modernity of mine, what I am utterly sick of is the pretense pilled on pretense of This Is How It Is and This Is How It Has Always Been and This Is How It Will Always Be that chokes every field with the White Male Name. If you would claim science exempt, give up Newton and go back to the Golden Age of Islam and even further beyond to Greek-termed Persia and first-university South Asia and Morocco. I take a similar path through literature, as what's the use of an increasing glut of literature since the European colonial gaze unfolded if one insists that on the increasingly straight and narrow? The benefit of this is, the more you go back to that Middle English and that Old English and blood and bone not caught up in the people dead for centuries before one corner of the world thought to start calling them "white", the more it all starts to all fall apart. My interest lies in sharp edges of things that common sense would decry as nonexistent. Here, there be monsters.

I used two editions of The Canterbury Tales for this university class. One came from sophomore year of high school, brought out again briefly for community college and, after this most recent stint, irretrievably marked up with notes and smudges and emoticons. The other's a library copy of what the school insists on charging three figures for, decent enough in the holistic sense but certainly not enough to justify that facet of the socioeconomic war on education. With each assigned section, I read the latter's Middle English first and the former's verse translation second, and if anyone tries to tell you that you must commit to the untranslated version in order to "really" have "read" The Canterbury Tales, laugh at them for me. It's that elitism and the "translated" version's elitism and every other branch of elitism other the sun that's ruining this admirable and hilarious and terrifying and gloriously informative text for everyone who's native language is not the monstrosity of French and Latin and German that's been masquerading as its own thing for little more than a millennium, not "the times". Seriously, what the fuck are "the times". If it means what I think it means, I'll trust that each and every elitist can wipe the floor with me when it comes to all ecclesiastical and narratological and cross-cultural frameworks caught up in this ridiculously unfinished work. If they do worse than me and my newfangled ideas about readers reading however they can, what's the point?

What are The Canterbury Tales? They're a riddle. They're a hoot. They're powerful in their pictures of morality and dynamic in their interest in the marrow of things, what makes a Pardoner and what makes a Monk and how all of this may have sent us all to burn in hell if the Wife of Bath didn't really know her stuff. There are all the things the Church tells you and the men tell you and the satirists tell you, and then there are all the things that exist in texts inside and outside the lingo (English at this time was the slang of hicks and street urchins, and if you can't appreciate that you're going to have a hell of a time understanding what Chaucer was accomplishing. Not surpassing, mind you. That would've meant a pretentious forgetting of roots and no English as we know it for us) whose lack of copyright is less interesting than the Thousand and One Nights overtly trickling in from god knows where. There's faith, there's beauty, there're the ancient trails of antisemitism and Islamophobia that contemporary critics would do well to break out of their blinkered post-1980's state and analyze, and then there's the fact that Chaucer was a literal child of the Black Death. He'll play and play and question and question, savvy enough to both side-eye the misogynists and transition between the Shakespeare plays of Richard II and Henry IV, and then, at the end of it all, sink into the fear and doubt that we really all the pilgrims of his pre-Canterbury Knight's Tale, wandering in a world of woe. Life back then had its brilliance, barring the pall of the forthcoming Renaissance, but so did undrugged, unmedicated, unyielding death.

I threw four figures of tuition at this work in order to get the eleven weeks and 50+ pages of notes necessary for my current level of appreciation, so if anyone can manage a tenth as much without that amount of monetary impetus, they're doing just fine. Don't bother with this if looking at it makes you feel pressured or frustrated in any sense of the word. I can tell you for a fact Chaucer would have watched the elitists carefully and made blowhard Friars out of them all. There's nothing he liked worse than the learned who refused to teach.
Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote,
The droghte of March hath perced to the roote,
And bathed every veyne in swich licóur
Of which vertú engendred is the flour;
Whan Zephirus eek with his swete breeth
Inspired hath in every holt and heeth
The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne
Hath in the Ram his halfe cours y-ronne,
And smale foweles maken melodye,
That slepen al the nyght with open ye,
So priketh hem Natúre in hir corages,
Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages,
And palmeres for to seken straunge strondes,
To ferne halwes, kowthe in sondry londes;
And specially, from every shires ende
Of Engelond, to Caunterbury they wende,
The hooly blisful martir for to seke,
That hem hath holpen whan that they were seeke.
Profile Image for Spencer Orey.
540 reviews124 followers
February 12, 2021
5 stars for the performance, not for the absolute classic of English literature lol. I liked the voice actors and thought they each brought the tales to life. Listening to this was much easier than reading it for me
Profile Image for 7jane.
678 reviews256 followers
July 12, 2022
I read a modern English translation, and I think it's a good choice if you don't want to spend your time pondering what certain words mean :) Written in the 14th c. towards the end of the author's life (and seems to be a bit unfinished still, but not so much as to leave the reader unsatisfied). Chaucer was a booklover and quite intelligent (knowledge of astronomy and chemistry, as well as a bunch of tales fitting in, what was known at the time of course), and got a nice Westminster 5Abbey burial. Some tales are from earlier times, fitted in, but proper work seems to begun around 1386/7.

The story follows a pilgrimage group (about 29 people) on a 5-day travel to Canterbury (for St Thomas Becket), in a springtime, starting from a high-class hostelry place in Southwark (The Tabard, established 1307, destroyed by fire in 1676, rebuilt in 18th c. but finally converted into stores before being demolished in 1873). The host who prompts people to tell tales is the owner of the place, and also makes in-between comments.
The tales' origins are from all over Europe, some ancient empires, and even the Orient, with wisdom and things even from author's own experiences perhaps. Often there is talk and feedback to the stories in-between, but not always (after all, the book is slightly unfinished). The lengths of the tales vary, and not all tales have an ending because of interruptions or author just hadn't finished them.

Some tales were familiar to me (at least the legend of St Cecilia, and the part about the reign of Queen Zenobia of Palmyra (who really existed), which I'd learned about at Pinterest), unfortunately also the Prioress's tale that is similar to the *very* anti-semitic tale of (nearly-St.) Little St Hugh of Lincoln, in which a child is killed by Jews... here also eerie because the child keeps singing . This is why my rating is 3 stars.
Of course, there is also plenty of sexism, but one does understand that that was how things were at the time, and there is plenty of women being awesome-stories too. I needed to look up some of the meaning of some of the professions (manciple, pardoner (indulgence seller-conman), summoner, squire, franklin, yeoman (what he is here)...

Some of the stories also amuse because they are pairs of two teller dissing each other. Some tales are uplifting, some sad, some a bit WTF... Chaucer himself is included among the teller, but he's not a clever storyteller in the story, even has to tell another tale when the first is not good enough. Tales may be set in other places or times, but include 14th c. elements/English stuff in them (like, in the Knight's tale, the main female character is Emily, which as a name doesn't quite fit in Ancient Greek setting). Still, my favorites were Monk's tale, Nun's Priest's tale, Franklin's tale, Canon's Yeoman's tale, and the Person's tale - the last also mentioned in the movie 'Se7en'.

I didn't feel afterwards that this could be in my 'essential books' list, but no matter how uneven (or not), and with values different (or not) the book felt, I do feel that it felt like essential-to-know/read book. And I think reading it in modern translation is the best for getting through it in normal pace (and it's a thick book). Worth it. 8)
Profile Image for John Hatley.
1,179 reviews195 followers
March 1, 2020
This is one of those books I read as a student of language. It is also one of the most significant works in the English language. The Canterbury Tales give students of the English language an excellent sample of Middle English (200 years before Shakespeare). At the same time, they provide an unparalleled glimpse of life in fourteenth-century England. To the adventurous I recommend reading it in the original Middle English.
Profile Image for Jonfaith.
1,856 reviews1,371 followers
August 21, 2015
A wife destroys her husband and contrives,
As husbands know, the ruin of their lives

Much as the theme of estrangement dominates a thread of traditional songs, (see Wayfaring Stranger, Motherless Child etc) much of early Modern literature appears concerned with faithless brides and the looming spectre of cuckoldry. It is possible that I am full of shit in tall weeds, but that said, I do think that there is a link between the themes (alienation and infidelity) and that both are understood in terms of our ontological displacement. Such were my reasoned reactions to Canterbury Tales. My unreasoned ones amounted to observation: look there’s a rape, that’s a rape, that’s a pogrom, why would anyone’s daughter want to sleep with him etc, etc? I read this in translation into modern English and was impressed about the rhyme, especially between Flanders and extravagances: who can fault that? The Tales is a display of language's majesty.

My grasp of Chaucer amounts to the author saying through his myriad voices -- much like Bill Nighy in Hitchhiker’s Guide: there really is no point, just keep busy
Profile Image for Christine.
6,618 reviews478 followers
April 2, 2016
One of the questions that people ask is why do we still read old books? What's so great about them anyway? My brother asked me this after I was shocked that he hadn't read Canterbury Tales. I undoubtably get the same shocked expression when I hear someone hasn't read over a dozen other things.

So why should we read Canterbury Tales? Well, I suppose the technical answer would be because each tale represents a style or type of writing. The collection is different forms that were popular in the day, making it some type of historical document (at least, according to my local bookstores if their shelving is anything to go by).

Okay, I hear the no name complainer say, that's good for you English people, but I only take English because they make me. Why should I read it?

Because it is the funniest thing in the whole world! You have farting! You think The BFG started it? You're wrong! Chaucer used the funny fart long before. It has sex! There's lots of sex! Everything is having sex! Okay, not everything, but even the chickens. There's chickens! There's marriage! There's love! There's fighting! There's the Wife of Bath! She is awesome. Who doesn't like the Wife? Even Shrek! knows the Wife of Bath. There's the second flood (maybe)! There's a knight, who to believe Terry Jones, isn't as honorable as he thinks he is. See, there is a Monty python connection! There's May/December romance!

Canterbury Tales is one of those works of literature that is going to last simply because it is about the truth. True, you have very dated tales, such as the Nun, but there are also tales that are still current today, that would make good television even. Chaucer, like Shakespeare and Dickens, speaks to the human condition. He shows use that such speaking isn't a late idea, but started well before we think it did.

I also think people should read it aloud so we can all sound like the Swedish Chef.
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