Reviews elsewhere on the web:
Paula Stiles

Geoffrey Chaucer

The Canterbury Tales

It has been said that the critical point in our becoming human is when we started to tell stories. Certainly, reading Chaucer's Canterbury Tales shows that the nature of our storytelling has not changed much in the last 600 years. A group of pilgrims on the way to Canterbury amuse themselves by telling each other stories, and even in a work of this age we see the usual themes coming up. Some tales are of far away places, there's one about alchemy - even then Chaucer realised it was essentially trickery - but mostly they are tales of love, or more particularly lust.

Chaucer has plenty of rivalry between the storytellers - the Miller tells a tale of how a carpenter is tricked by his young wife and her lover, and so the Reeve (who was previously a carpenter) responds with a tale of how a thieving miller gets fooled. One thing I've noticed about these stories is that they're not particularly memorable on one reading - they seem to 'go with the flow' as it were. Whether this means that they should be read several times in order to get the full benefit or that they should be treated as a bit of light reading to while away the odd hour -that's up to you.

The Canterbury Tales can be read at http://www.gutenberg.org/browse/authors/c#a144, either in the original Middle English, or in a 19th century translation. However, I thought that Nevill Coghill's translation seemed to flow more freely.

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Paperback 528 pages  
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Published: 2003 Penguin Classics
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Paperback 528 pages  
ISBN: 0140424385
Salesrank: 257324
Weight:0.75 lbs
Published: 2003 Penguin Classics
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Paperback 528 pages  
ISBN: 0140424385
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Published: 2003 Penguin Classics
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Product Description
Nevill Coghill’s masterly and vivid modern English verse translation with all the vigor and poetry of Chaucer’s fourteenth-century Middle English

In The Canterbury Tales Chaucer created one of the great touchstones of English literature, a masterly collection of chivalric romances, moral allegories and low farce. A story-telling competition between a group of pilgrims from all walks of life is the occasion for a series of tales that range from the Knight’s account of courtly love and the ebullient Wife of Bath’s Arthurian legend, to the ribald anecdotes of the Miller and the Cook. Rich and diverse, The Canterbury Tales offer us an unrivalled glimpse into the life and mind of medieval England.

For more than sixty-five years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,500 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.