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The Canterbury Tales (Penguin Classics) [Paperback]

Geoffrey Chaucer , Nevill Coghill
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (76 customer reviews)
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Book Description

30 Jan 2003 Penguin Classics

Inspired by Boccaccio's Decameron, and framed as a storytelling competition between a group of pilgrims, Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales is one of the greatest works of English literature, translated from the Middle English with an introduction by Nevill Coghill in Penguin Classics.

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 offers us an unrivalled glimpse into the life and mind of Medieval England.

Nevill Coghill's masterly and vivid English verse translation is rendered with consummate skill to retain all the vigour and poetry of Chaucer's fourteenth-century Middle English.

Geoffrey Chaucer (c.1343-1400) was an English author, poet, philosopher, courtier and diplomat, best known as the author of The Canterbury Tales. Chaucer is credited as being the first author to demonstrate the artistic legitimacy of the vernacular English language. The first poet to have been buried in the Poet's Corner of Westminster Abbey, his other works include The House of Fame, Troilus and Criseyde and The Book of the Duchess.

If you enjoyed The Canterbury Tales, you might like Boccaccio's Decameron, also available in Penguin Classics.

'Nevill Coghill's easy, seductive translation ensures that this, the most popular work in English Literature - now 600 years old - will run through yet more centuries, delighting yet more readers, shaping more writers'

Melvyn Bragg


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The Canterbury Tales (Penguin Classics) + The Song of Roland (Penguin Classics) + Le Morte d'Arthur (Norton Critical Editions)
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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: 19.9 x 13 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (76 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 41,064 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

'Written in a lucid and elegant style, Wetherbee's book has lost nothing of its worth during the fifteen years that have elapsed since it was first published. It provides a useful and thought-provoking commentary to the Tales not only for university students or general readers but also for specialists.' Anglia --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
56 of 58 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Very disappointing on Kindle 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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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Needs formatting for Kindle 3 Feb 2012
By jinjer
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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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Problems with the text and formatting 10 April 2011
By Roman Clodia TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Kindle Edition
This is a Project Gutenberg file so is based on a rather problematic and unreliable text, and is in middle English. There are lots of problems with the Kindle formatting e.g. the notes that should appear in the right-hand margin (awkward anyway) are almost run-on for Kindle, and glosses appear within the text itself only separated by a change of font.

If you are a student then this is close to useless as this isn't an edition any university course would use. If you are a general reader wanting to experience Chaucer in his original English with glossary help then this might work, but really the formatting adds difficulties that just shouldn't be there. Not recommended.
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104 of 115 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An all-round good book 4 May 2003
By A Customer
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
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't bother! 29 Dec 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I downloaded this version as it was cheaper than others and I am studying Chaucer for my A Level English Literature. However, the stories are not in the original old English but have been translated into modern English - totally unhelpful as the whole point is that they were in Middle English! Moreover, you have to skim through the whole book to find a particular tale as the contents page has no links or page numbers. Overall, an unworthy copy, I would advise you to look for a different version, what a waste of money!
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40 of 45 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
Although difficult at first to get your head around the old english, be patient and before long you will enjoy geoffrey Chaucers unique sense of humour and light critizicm of the times.
The Wife of Baths story is particuarly interesting. Her tale of the woes of marriage - which for her are numerous! are hilarious! she argues for remarriage very well, and her whole demenour is a refreshing change from those male dominated times. it is worth buying this book, just to be able to read the wifes story.
Dont be put off by the language - it adds to the appeal.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Canterbury Tales 4 May 2004
By debbie
Format:Paperback
Steeling myself for the hell I remember this book to be from my school days, I was delighted to find reading it to be a completely different experience!
I couldn't put it down - I can't admit to understanding absolutely all of it, but the notes at the bottom of each page really help to bring the text to life and the book itself brings to life this period of the middle ages.
It gives indepth social commentary which I believe anyone would benefit from having sight of.
I would recommend this book most highly; it is fantastic! (My only regret is there is no sequel)
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent translation
An excellent modern english translation. Retains the humour and variety of original.
Published 7 days ago by Paul J.
5.0 out of 5 stars The Canterbury Tales
This is a book that I enjoy reading in dribs and drabs. It has marvellous, probably semi true, tales. A good read for those who enjoy this sort of book.
Published 2 months ago by Malc
4.0 out of 5 stars Used for GCSE
As part of GCSE English Literature I purchased this book to read. It wasn't my favourite book but still interesting all the same.
Published 3 months ago by scattyel
3.0 out of 5 stars This edition is not th4 best way to read Chaucer's classic
What can you say? It's a classic however the construction of this edition is a bit weird. You get a splash of English translation and then into to original old English text. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Dunx
4.0 out of 5 stars Takes me right back to school English Classes
Has an authentic feel to it - Chaucer's 14th century English has not been too mauled about and it scans (once you get a feel for where the emphasis falls in certain words). Read more
Published 5 months ago by W.I.Lamont
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice text and very cheap - one major flaw
The text of the tales, well presented. Navigation between sections not too difficult. There are helpful glosses for the meanings of some of the more difficult words and phrases;... Read more
Published 5 months ago by J. Brooker
4.0 out of 5 stars Generally impressed
I bought this to help with my British Middle Ages class at university, and found that the translation was really good and comprehensible. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Charlotte Coles
2.0 out of 5 stars why this has 4 stars and not 5 !
I go slowly thro' Chaucer to try to appreciate everything there.He was an interesting and innovative man so his view of the people around must be valued. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Sine
2.0 out of 5 stars Get a more concise version
If you're reading this book because you have to, then hard luck, otherwise give it a miss. It bored the living daylights out of me. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Andrew James
4.0 out of 5 stars canterbury tales
This is one of the books that has been on my radar an wiil now be able to read at my leisure.
Published 7 months ago by Mr. Charles A. Rees
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