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108 of 119 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An all-round good book
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...
Published on 4 May 2003

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59 of 61 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Very disappointing on Kindle
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...
Published on 16 July 2011 by Mr. R. J. Bedford


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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent rendering which deserves to be read, 9 Dec 2002
By 
Mr. Paul J. Bradshaw (Midlands, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Canterbury Tales (Hardcover)
The Canterbury Tales is generally force-fed to English students in its original 14th Century English - and needlessly suffers as a result. Surely if the point is to engender an interest in this early form of the novel then making it as accessible as possible should be the aim?
This is what David Wright does with his wonderful translation - communicating the full bawdiness and humour (yes: laugh out loud!) of Chaucer's classic without the reader having to decode it line by line.
Of course readers who enjoy this rendering can read the original...
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'When in April the sweet showers fall ..., 29 Sep 2013
By 
... 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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not wholly old English as is maintained in the blurb, 28 Jun 2013
This review is from: Canterbury Tales (Kindle Edition)
I bought this book because it stated in the blurb that it was presented in the Old English of the original text. It isn't. Some of the words have been modernized. This makes the text easier to read, but it was not what I personally was looking for. It should perhaps be clearer in the book description.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great yarn, 9 April 2010
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Really enjoying this book. Have compared parts of the text to the original and its brilliantly done, keeping both the sense and the style but in language you don't have to stumble over, so it is more like the experience of reading the Canterbury Tales would have been at the time. Its surprisingly fast paced compared to what I was expecting and I haven't been able to put it down. Now I know what all the fuss is about!
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37 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ourselves and the Fourteenth Century, 26 Aug 2002
This modern translation is for those who struggle with Chaucer's original language. Coghill's melodious verse captures the timely flow of the original text, thus preventing the reading from becoming a slow and erudite undertaking. Chaucer's Tales were not designed for sluggish meditation, but to be read aloud in an engaging manner, which is what makes this translation an ideal buy for those who wish to experience the Tales for their original charm.
The immortal Canterbury Tales is a must for all lovers of great literature. What we can witness in this noble poem "is the concise portrait of an entire nation: high and low, old and young, male and female, rogue and righteous, land and sea, town and country", as Nevill Coghill describes in his introduction to this translation. The past has become magical to us through the great works of Epic poetry; where the Greeks had Homer, and the Roman's Virgil; the English have none other than Geoffrey Chaucer.
It is only infrequently that we can find classic ideas that have captured readers throughout the ages, be it Pickwick's proposed adventure to study his fellow men, Dante's quest for his beloved Beatrice, or indeed Chaucer's undying Pilgrimage; The Canterbury Tales manifests its own unique appeal in an immortal journey through the Tales of many different voices.
On the Eve of a Pilgrimage from a London Cheapside Inn to St Thomas a Becket's shrine in Canterbury, a group of thirty pilgrims are challenged by the inn's Host to a competition: to while away their morrow's journey by each telling a tale; on returning to London their Host will then decided the best storyteller: and their reward? a luxurious meal on behalf of that Pilgrim's fellows. What follows are many tales, of many varieties: those of courtly love, bawdy comedy, fresh wit, menacing macabre, didactic fables, in short, to use John Dryden's words "God's plenty".
But it is the prologue to Chaucer's great collection of tales that marks its individuality from the Likes of Ovid, Petrarch and Boccaccio - of whom some of the tales are largely indebted to. The translator of this edition advocates that "in all literature there is nothing that touches or resembles the prologue". And this is by all means a cogent argument: what we witness at the beginning of Tales is patchwork quilt of Medieval England, a Tapestry of Chaucer's times, or if you like: a doorway into a world long faded away.
The prologue simply follows the task of introducing the diverse tellers of the Tales, and yet in doing so it records a valuable sample of history. William Blake faithfully promulgates the Prologue's vitality by declaring that: "Chaucer is himself the great poetical observer of men, who in every age is born to record and eternize its acts". The Pilgrims are not only well presented characters, they are also true embodiments of normality. What we see in the Tales is not just a snap-shot of Olde England, but something indeed far bigger: a blueprint of our own society's individuals - "the perennial progeny of men and women". What Chaucer portrays to us in his Canterbury Tales is nothing greater than our very selves.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Understandable and Enjoyable, 3 Mar 2006
By 
Peter Kenney (Birmingham, Alabama, USA) - See all my reviews
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The book I am reviewing is the Bantam Classic Edition translated and edited by A. Kent Hieatt and Constance Hieatt. This volume includes a critical introduction and a helpful glossary written by the editors. The text is arranged in a format utilizing a facing-page translation.
Chaucer spoke and wrote in the London dialect of Middle English which was popular during his time. In THE CANTERBURY TALES he used the device of having a diverse group of people tell two tales each while traveling together on a pilgrimage from London to Canterbury, the location of the Shrine of St. Thomas A' Becket.
Almost every social type of the fourteenth century is represented among the pilgrims such as a knight, lawyer, doctor, cook, miller, nun, merchant, monk, priest, squire and several others. Chaucer is also one of the pilgrims. Readers will recognize many of the characters as being reminiscent of their twenty-first century contemporaries. The physician, for instance, loves gold and makes a lot of money during times of pestilence. He also has a close and mutually profitable relationship with an apothecary.
Anyone who recalls being introduced to Chaucer as a student long ago will find the modern texts and translations a welcome change. The result is a Chaucer who is both understandable and very enjoyable.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Generally impressed, 6 Jan 2014
By 
Charlotte Coles (Larochette, Luxembourg) - See all my reviews
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I bought this to help with my British Middle Ages class at university, and found that the translation was really good and comprehensible. However, the translators didn't even attempt to rhyme the lines as Chaucer had (except on those occasions where they happened to rhyme anyway), and there weren't corresponding line numbers, so if you're reading a Middle-English version and have trouble understanding the language, you can't just find the same line in this version - you have to read through it until you think you've found the right place - of you just go through each line-by-line, but that gets a bit irritating.
However, when just considering this book without comparing it to others, it is well-translated and has a useful bit at the back entitled "Explanatory Notes" where it briefly goes over each tale and explains the translations and sometimes words and how they would have differed in Middle English.
I'd say it was a good buy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chaucer in his own words, 22 Dec 2013
By 
Malcolm (Edlesborough, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
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This Everyman's Library edition of The Canterbury Tales
is published in as near to Geoffrey Chaucer's own words
as the known manuscripts allow.

Edited by A C Cawley, during his time as Professor of
English and Medieval Literature in the University of
Leeds, this edition was first published in 1958 and
stands as one of the best editions of the Tales.

Whilst later translations give the gist of the stories
in modern language, the student of Medieval English will
find this edition of great help in understanding the
nuances of Chaucer's meanings to some words, some of
which can be lost in translation to modern English.

Begun in 1387, in what would have been considered to be
Chaucer's old age, in medieval times; we can almost feel
ourselves being jostled and cajoled by our companions as
we walk the Pilgrims Way from London to Canterbury towards
the shrine of Thomas Becket. All the while listening to
the fables of farce, courtly love and stories of sexual
shenanigans as we stop and replenish ourselves along the
route.

This 600 page edition includes the Prologue, a chronology
of contemporaneous events, notes on pronunciation and a
bibliography.
Worthy of inclusion on your bookshelves.
Another reprinting of this edition would be welcomed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Nice cover, 2 Nov 2013
However, I think it should be clearer that it is a modern English version. It should be stated with the title. I did not open the description as I didn't think I needed to.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Translation of Chaucer., 28 Aug 2013
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The Coghill translation of The Canterbury Tales remains easily the best of such translations. It is a most rewarding read.
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