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The Canterbury Tales: New Edition Paperback – Jul 28 2011


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 547 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; New edition (July 28 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199599025
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199599028
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 2.5 x 13 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 358 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #185,804 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"David Wright is a fine poet, and he has translated the Tales with crisp brilliance and fidelity into classic verse...On every page he offers at least a few lines that make one smile with pleasure. This version ought to be on every school syllabus. The translation is certainly the best we have ever had." --Peter Levi, Sunday Telegraph

"David Wright's new verse translation of The Canterbury Tales is done with great skill, literary tact, and polish....it is caring and resourceful. It both stands up well in its own right, and is likely to send the reader back to Chaucer." --British Book News

About the Author

David Wright (1920-94) was a poet, author, and translator. Born in South Africa, he was deafened by scarlet fever at the age of 7 and emigrated to England when he was 14. He co-founded the literary review X which he co-edited from 1959-62, and published several books of verse, a translation of Beowulf, and edited anthologies of verse for Penguin and Faber. Christopher Cannon has taught at UCLA, Oxford, and Cambridge. His publications include The Making of Chaucer's English: A Study of Words (2001;2005). The Grounds of English Literature (2004; 2007), and Middle English Literature: A Cultural History (2008). He has written the Foreword to the Riverside Chaucer.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Annabelle on June 13 2004
Format: Paperback
While this is one of the better translations of The Tales I've seen, it's still unfortunately a translation. Even with a perfect translation, much of the rhyming and character of the original is lost. On the other hand, you can also lose much of the essence of the story by reading the Middle English text simply because the vocabulary can be so different (even though most of the time you can guess the meaning). Your best bet is to buy a copy of The Tales that keeps the original text but adds a line-by-line translation. The book may be twice as thick, but this way you can both read it the way Chaucer intended it to be, and read the translation right under the original words in case you're completely baffled by the vocabulary. I recently found a copy like that at a garage sale for 50 cents. It was the best 50 cents I've spent in a long time.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Andi Miller on Sept. 22 2002
Format: Paperback
In addition to its literary importance, Chaucer's Canterbury Tales are an enchanting reading experience. The Bantam Classic edition presents the tales in Modern English translation alongside the Middle English so that one can fully appreciate the tales as Chaucer composed them, or if you're just in the mood for a fun romp you can speedily read the translation. The tales themselves move at a quick pace, so beginners will probably enjoy the modern version much more.
The Canterbury Tales revolve around a group of 29 on a pilgrimage to Canterbury Cathedral to pay homage to the martyred St. Thomas a'Becket. The members of the pilgrimage come from all walks of life, including a Knight, Prioress, Merchant, Miller, the ever-entertaining Wife of Bath, and many others. The Canterbury Tales are the pilgrims' stories and each one reflects the individual character's personality beautifully. One can't help but feel a part of this lively group.
Whether you like a bawdy, raucous tale or a morally sound fable you will definitely find something entertaining in this book. I laughed out loud several times and found Chaucer's use of symbolism, wit, wisdom, and the glimpse into 14th Century life absolutely fascinating.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on Dec 10 1999
Format: Paperback
This version of the Canterbury Tales in modern English is brilliant. Nonetheless I was deeply disappointed in finding that the Parson's Tale was omitted completely, the reason being that "it does not interest the general public". I disagree with such a sweeping statement.
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By A Customer on Oct. 2 2003
Format: Paperback
Over the years, this book has been banned upways, sideways, and down. Thanks to the Comstock Law (1873), Geoffrey Chaucer's 'The Canterbury Tales' was prohibited for sale in the United States due to sexual situations and swearing. (In other words, the fun parts.) It continues to be abridged for content and language across the United States.
I read Canterbury Tales a while ago. It was an abridged edition. Severely abridged. Entire sections and tales were cut out, for PC and conservative reasons both. I reread it in an unabridged edition, and while even a truncated Chaucer is beautiful, I see how much I missed.
Yes, the Tales may be anti-semitic and sexist and Chaucer probably killed puppies just to see their expressions. It's still a beautiful example of writing. Rather than limit himself to portraying the upper classes and more refined manners, Chaucer elected to portray "low" manners and tastes as well, giving a more complete picture of life as he saw it. The completeness of the Tales for that time period blows me away.
It's long, but it's worth it. If you can, find an edition that keeps as much of the original language and slang as possible. It's slower reading, but his skill shines through.
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Format: Audio CD
By happenstance, I started listening to The Canterbury Tales on Palm Sunday, the same day that the narration begins. As I pulled out of my driveway on an April morning, I had Chaucer's famous description of spring in my ears as a Christian procession marched by, led by a bag-pipe player. I was on a trek to Niagara Falls, but I was hearing the account of a different sort of pilgrimage, written 600 years ago, but still sounding beautiful to the ear. In fact, I much preferred listening to these tales rather than reading them silently myself from the page. This is poetry, and the scansion and lyricism can easily get lost as the modern reader struggles with the early spellings and olden vocabulary. Be advised that the first tale, that of the knight, is extraordinarily long, formalistic, predictable, and maybe even just kind of boring. It must be a purposeful tip of Chaucer's funny-looking hat to the epic poetry of Homer. But don't give up early! Chaucer rewards the patient with the following tale from the miller which is the exact opposite--short, mean, and bawdy! You'll be shocked at just how old some of the English language's four-letter words are. This pattern continues as Chaucer has each of his pilgrims take turns telling stories in their own voice, and the diversity and contrast is enjoyable. BEWARE: Although this is advertised as an unabridged reading, I was dubious when I saw its rather short length. After listening to the entire program, I looked at my very thick printed version and found several tales there that were not included in the audio reading. Nonetheless, such editing may be for the best--except for purists and academics--as this version certainly offers the lay reader/listener a representative sample of what Chaucer could do with an earlier version of our language.
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