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4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars
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on 26 October 2014
Having decided to reread The Canterbury Tales after many years and having a paperback of the poem in original spelling, I thought I would download this to my Kindle to have as a side-dish as it were to see me through more difficult passages. I find it useless for my purposes. The "original" text in plain font here (the so-called plain English translations being in italic) is a mixture of original and updating of words to make them easier to understand. This may be useful but means one is not actually presented with the original beside a translation, but a kind of hybrid modernisation text with enough of the antique to give it "flavour". And it can't be trusted to be exact.

From the prologue for instance my paperback Laurel Poetry Series version of the original has

Bifel that in that season on a day
In Southwerk at the Taberd as I lay
Redy to wenden on my pilgrimage
To Caunterbury with ful devout corage
At night was come in-to that hostelrye
Wel nyne and twentye in a companye
Of sondry folke by aventure y-falle
In felawshipe and pilgrims wer they alle
That towards Cauntebury woulden ryde;

The "original" in this kindle version becomes

Befell that season on a day
In Southwark at the Tabard as I lay
Ready to wenden on my pilgrimage
To Canterbury with devout corage
At night was come into that hostelry
Well nine and twenty in a company
Of sundry folk, by aventure y-fall who had by chance fallen
In fellowship, and pilgrims were they all, into company.
That toward Canterbury would ride.

What is a phrase glossing the meaning of "aventure -y-fall" is as shown put in as if part of the text, causing a mess. The "translation" proper that follows reduces what is in fact a quite unambiguous piece of verse anyhow to

Now it happened that one day in that season
As I stayed at the Tabard in Southwark
Ready to go on my pilgrimage
To Canterbury in great high spirits
At night there came into that inn
A group of twenty-nine
Diverse people, who had by chance
Fallen in with each other, and they were all pilgrims,
That wanted to ride to Canterbury.

So, "the story" if that's what you want in "plain English".Not a full translation with details missed and a generalised free verse simply giving the impression of full verse translation without it being such.

The quotes should help people make up their own mind, and some mightn't see any problem. My own copy though is deleted from my Kindle as it annoys me in its unreliability of text and rewriting of "translation" in sections where original passages have a meaning that is perfectly clear and better put in the poetry itself.

I will look elsewhere for a translation for my purposes.
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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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on 4 April 2016
I have loved Chaucer's work since my days at Grammar School in the 1940's and 1950's and this edition affords my return to the world of
"Middle English.". There are good translations available to read alongside if this is necessary and in particular I would recommend that of Nevill
Coghill written when at Exeter College, Oxford. I am continuing to make my way alone currently and enjoying every minute of this serious but very
entertaining work of life in the period in which Chaucer lived and wrote. The characters come to life very readily and the "tales" they tell are really quite something ! I recommend it highly and wish you good luck along your pilgrimage from London to Canterbury.
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on 9 December 2002
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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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 22 December 2013
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

This 600 page edition includes the Prologue, a chronology
of contemporaneous events, notes on pronunciation and a
Worthy of inclusion on your bookshelves.
Another reprinting of this edition would be welcomed.
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on 22 January 2012
Thankfully a modern typeface print of Chaucers Prologue to the Canebury Tales. It is heavily illustrated throughout by various artists and with several pages of the original manuscript (you can see why I say thankfullyfor the moder typeface from these pages. he other illusrtrations compliment the text and give a feeling for the way of life and dress of the time. It also contains at the end of the book a notes section giving a modern translation of some of the more unusual words and sayings. There are many publications of the full works but for the illustrations alone it worth the purchase, the middle english text is a bonus and reads so much better than a modern translation, one you get you tongue around the pronuciation. Go on bye it you wont be disapointed
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on 19 July 2012
This book has the old English version on one page and the modern day English version opposite.

The Kindle edition is a complete mess with the original version and the modern translation all mixed up. This makes it impossible to read as the texts for each version run into each other. It is very difficult to see where one ends and the next begins.

This edition needs to be withdrawn from sale until the formatting problems are sorted out.

My recommendation: buy the paper version instead.
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on 6 January 2014
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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on 11 November 2015
This is my first reading of the Canterbury tales and I largely found it enjoyable. This book contains all of the tales in Modern English.

My reason for not giving five stars is that the explanatory notes are not numbered within the tales, they are just marked with an asterisk; consequently, it is more time consuming to look up the notes than it needs to be. I find this error very surprising as it's not one error in the book, it's nearly 500 errors (or opportunities to spot the errors). Also several of the points marked with an asterisk are not even in the explanatory notes.
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on 18 July 2006
This is one of my favourite texts of Chaucer's Prologue to the Canterbury Tales. The text itself is in unmodernised, Chaucer's English, and the notes (comfortably laid-out on the page facing the text) are detailed and very extensive, covering the social and historical context of Chaucer's life and times, helping you to gain a fuller understanding of Chaucer's views and beliefs. There's also a lovely introduction to each Pilgrim which includes an interesting discussion of the social status of the Pilgrim as well as comments about the profession in medieval England in general; I found the sections about the clergy and the aristocracy particularly enlightening. This is a wonderful introduction to studying the Canterbury Tales or Chaucer, it will explain medieval outlooks on issues such as medicine, astronomy, religion, all so essential to fully understand the Tales.
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