The Canterbury Tales: Nine Tales and the General Prologue:

The Canterbury Tales: Nine Tales and the General Prologue: Authoritative Text, Sources and Backgrounds, Criticism Here are tales told by members from all parts of English society of the th century, reflecting on life as they travel the road from Southwark to Canterbury What I ve actually read in Middle English The General Prologue Lovely portraits, massively entertaining The Knight s Tale Long and dull,fun to write about than to actually read The Miller s Tale The Reeve s Tale Two hilarious fabliaus that showcase medieval raunchiness The Nun s Priest s Tale I still remember the courtly courtesy Chuantecleer the Rooster pays to his lady wife a hen Hilarious What I ve actually read in Middle English The General Prologue Lovely portraits, massively entertaining The Knight s Tale Long and dull,fun to write about than to actually read The Miller s Tale The Reeve s Tale Two hilarious fabliaus that showcase medieval raunchiness The Nun s Priest s Tale I still remember the courtly courtesy Chuantecleer the Rooster pays to his lady wife a hen Hilarious Other than a modern translation of the Pardoner s Tale, which I read in high school for an assignment, I ve never read much of the Canterbury Tales Now, since I feel an urge to read as much of the Great Classics before I die, I figured I might as well get this one out of the way Well, partially, anyway This Norton Critical Edition only has the General prologue and nine of the tales, though the nine selected are the ones that are generally accepted as the best of the twenty eight.This particul Other than a modern translation of the Pardoner s Tale, which I read in high school for an assignment, I ve never read much of the Canterbury Tales Now, since I feel an urge to read as much of the Great Classics before I die, I figured I might as well get this one out of the way Well, partially, anyway This Norton Critical Edition only has the General prologue and nine of the tales, though the nine selected are the ones that are generally accepted as the best of the twenty eight.This particular edition is in a standardized form of Middle English that regularizes the varied spelling between editions and discards unfamiliar old letters and inserts newer ones like j and u as necessary While some might consider this a travesty, it makes the slow going in reading a bit faster This is a pretty slow read, to be sure Poetry usually takes longer to read than prose because one needs to listen to the verse parsed in one s internal voice and not zoom along at the speed of reading comprehension This is complicated by the fact that besides the archaic language, which, thankfully, is heavily glossed and footnoted in this edition, one must listen to it taking into account the fact that Middle English is pronounced quite differently from modern English To be honest I never quite got the hang of it in my head, but fudging it works often enough to keep the rhythm going.Content wise the tales in and of themselves are both products of their medieval times and endlessly timeless at once Irony, satire, social criticism, nuance they were all alive and well long before Gutenberg came along with his invention I was a little struck by how bawdy the Miller and the Reeve s Tales were Now I m hardly surprised why we barely touched upon the book in our high school English class I kind of do wonder how the Victorians handled all the stuff about ass kissing, farting, and graphic cuckoldry back in the day I was also struck by how revolutionary and modern the views expounded by the Wife of Bath in her prologue were as well how even handed Chaucer was in her depiction and in the quiet rebuttal delivered by the Clerk in his tale I really got to wonder how obtuse some people reviewing this book are when they complain about how sexist it all is when Chaucer was literally centuries ahead of his time in his views of women actually having agency, opinions and desires of their own that were contrary to men and that well, was just part of life that needed to be accepted Yeah, the Wife of Bath is kind of a shrew and a good time girl, but in the end her general argument does have a point.Honestly, though, the Nun s Priest s tale is my favorite Why Because I love chickens, and Chaucer just anthropomorphizes them perfectly How else can you have a rooster debating Boethius, Greek history and Christian theology with his hen wife in one moment, and then have them act like perfectly normal chickens the next People underestimate the comedic potential of chickens.The historical and source texts that follow the selected tales are pretty valuable Some of them like Boccacio s Decameron I will have to visit on their own in the future Other texts provide a counterpoint of how Chaucer either drew on several sources to synthesize a story, or reworked a rather blah source story into somethinginteresting or complex The critical texts are kind of hit and miss for me The older scholarly works seem to havedescriptive and interpretative value than therecent ones, but then I m personally allergic to any sort of classical structuralism and its derivatives So is it worth it to get this particular copy of The Canterbury Tales Overall, I d say yes, because of the deep annotations and secondary works, however, I d be hesitant to let this be the only copy that one has of the Tales since it is incomplete well,incomplete than the unfinished text in entirety, but I jest If one can recommend a version in the comments that is in a well annotated version of the Middle English, please mention it below I currently have one from the Britannica Great Books translation from the 50s, but it s a parallel text that appears to be mildly bowdlerized So how to rate All in all, it s probably not going to please the completest and it s not going to draw in the casual reader, nor should it be the only copy on your shelf So 4 out of 5 stars There s not much to say about the Canterbury Tales that hasn t been said, I m sure My dad used to recite them to me in the Middle English About five years ago I memorized the the General Prologue, the first 100 lines or so of The Knight s Tale, and a particularly intense scene from the tournament for the purpose of reciting them to someone else someday Every April I get a hankering to read portions of this book One day I might read it all I know I always enjoy the text, but it also reminds There s not much to say about the Canterbury Tales that hasn t been said, I m sure My dad used to recite them to me in the Middle English About five years ago I memorized the the General Prologue, the first 100 lines or so of The Knight s Tale, and a particularly intense scene from the tournament for the purpose of reciting them to someone else someday Every April I get a hankering to read portions of this book One day I might read it all I know I always enjoy the text, but it also reminds me of my father and I m sure always will I especially recommend reading this out loud Not only does it help to understand but it s just really fun There are many good pronunciation guides and some sample audio files available online, just in case you don t have a dad who studied English literature to read them to you I forbid anyone to read these tales in modern English Half the fun of reading them is trying to translate the Middle English These are great earthy tales of fairies, knights, and fiery hot pokers to the rear Good stuff.

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