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The Canterbury Tales (Penguin Classics) Paperback – 30 Jan 2003


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Product details

  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Rev Ed edition (30 Jan. 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140424385
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140424386
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.3 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (112 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 14,918 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

A delight . . . [Raffel s translation] provides more opportunities to savor the counterpoint of Chaucer s earthy humor against passages of piercingly beautiful lyric poetry. "Kirkus Reviews" Masterly . . . This new translation beckons us to make our own pilgrimage back to the very wellsprings of literature in our language. Billy Collins The Canterbury Tales has remained popular for seven centuries. It is the most approachable masterpiece of the medieval world, and Mr. Raffel s translation makes the stories even more inviting. " Wall Street Journal""

Book Description

A modern playscript adaptation of some of Chaucer's fine Tales --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
When in April the sweet showers fall And pierce the drought of March to the root, and all The veins are bathed in liquor of such power As brings about the engendering of the flower, When also Zephyrus with his sweet breath Exhales an air in every grove and health Upon the tender shoots, and the young sun His half-course in the sign of the Ram has run, And the small fowl are making melody That sleep away the night with open eye (So nature pricks them and their heart engages) Then people long to go on pilgrimages And palmers long to seek the stranger strands Of far-off saints, hallowed in sundry lands, And specially, from every shire's end Of England, down to Canterbury they wend To seek the holy blissful martyr, quick To give his help to them when they were sick. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

70 of 74 people found the following review helpful By Mr. R. J. Bedford on 16 July 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
My review relates specifically to the Kindle edition of the Canterbury Tales (Bantam Classic) as at July 2011. Judging from the other very positive reviews, my guess is that the print version of this book is much, much, much better!

I was looking for a good version of Cantebury Tales for Kindle, ideally with both middle english and modern text, and this ebook sounded perfect as described. I downloaded the sample and I was impressed by the content as far as it went. Unfortunately, the sample content only includes the Table of Contents, Preface and Introduction etc. It did not contain any portion of the Tales themselves, not even part of the General Prologue. So I purchased the whole thing to have a better look. That's when I decided to give this a 1-star rating in Kindle edition.

Amazon really do need to ensure that Kindle sample content samples the book and not just its introductory sections.

According to other reviewers, in the printed version the two formats of the text (middle english and modern) are presented opposite each other on facing pages. Ideal!

I knew this would not be possible on Kindle which can only display one page (or part page) at a time so I expected a bit of a challenge. But...woe...the formatting is such that blocks of middle english text and the modern text just follow on from each other with no clear breaks between the two versions of text and no way of jumping between the two. The poetry line formatting is OK but The Knight's Tale, for example, is just one continuous poem with middle english, then modern english, then middle english again etc. Every page and a half you have to spot the line where one text ends and the other begins. There is rarely even a line gap to make that easy to do.
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111 of 122 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 4 May 2003
Format: Paperback
As with all of the Penguin Classics, this is a nicely presented book. An introduction at the start covers the life and works of Chaucer in good detail.
The text has been updated into modern English by Neville Coghill. It is easy to read and retains the effect of Chaucer's poetic language.
The modern English means that it is easy to understand but is not suitable for those needing to study the original English. There are, however, boooks with the original old English.
A very informative set of notes and annotations add to the efectiveness of the translation, and give essential detail needed to understand the text.
All of the tales are included, including the General Prologue.
Worth buying if you need to study the tales or are interested in reading them and understanding them properly.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By jinjer on 3 Feb. 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
Unfortunately, this text has not been formatted for the Kindle and is practically unreadable. Sections of the modern translation flow on from the original text without even a line break. I spent much of my time skipping back and forth, trying to work out where I was.

The introduction and pronunciation notes were very helpful but the above issue meant that I gave up halfway through the General Prologue. I am now looking for an alternative version.

If you would like a modern translation to accompany the original then I suspect a printed edition with the texts on facing pages would be the better solution.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Gillybach on 11 Jun. 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I'm afraid I have to give this no stars (except the system won't let you), it certainly doesn't deserve the one star I had to give it in order to leave a review. The first 4% seems to be a long introduction which mentions that the volume also includes poems by Spencer which I didn't really want, but this is not mentioned in the listing description. When you finally get to the actual text of the Canterbury Tales it seems to be neither the original medieval spelling or a modern translation. They seem to have 'mispelt' the words in a different way or updated some of them to modern spelling in a random way.

It is truly irritating that there is not enough information about these e-books for you to make an informed choice, except when people have kindly left reviews to give some guidance.

It would be much more helpful if in cases like this they could tell you if in the original or a modern translation and more about what the e-book contains and the formatting.

It doesn't matter so much if it is a free one but there aren't any Canterbury Tales for free.
I would say this is no good whatsoever for someone studying Chaucer seriously or for someone who wants a modern translation so you can get the story without coping with the original language. This falls badly between both of these. Don't bother buying it I would say. Off to try another one. Incidently anyone know if you can get a refund for e-books?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Green Knight on 29 Sept. 2013
Format: Hardcover
... and pierce the drought of March to the root ...' and what a lovely way to translate Chaucer's magical opening to his all-time classic. I don't think anyone has ever caught the flavour of 'The Canterbury Tales' better than Nevill Coghill. There may be racier, bawdier and slightly more contemporary sounding versions, but they are usually in prose, not rhyming couplets - which seems to defeat the object. Professor Coghill has managed to keep just about everything that was and is great about the original, and keep us amused and touched into the bargain.

Remember that Coghill was not only among the very greatest of scholars, but also had a terrific sense of fun, and of how to please an audience. (His musical version of 'The Canterbury Tales' was, until the advent of Lloyd-Webber and his followers, one of the longest-running shows ever put on the stage.)

Here from Penguin Classics we have a beautifully presented and published edition of Chaucer in hard covers. It's a reasonable price, and well worth having. You will not need to be an academic to read it - just lap up the naughty bits, bask in the warm sunshine of the lyrical passages, and revel in the wealth of richly drawn characters.

'Here is God's plenty,' said John Dryden of the original - well, Mr Coghill has ensured that we are still able to enjoy this great work, undiminished.

Go buy. It's certainly affordable from Amazon. And worth every penny.
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