Canterbury Tales

Canterbury Tales

by Geoffrey Chaucer, Kolve V.A. (Editor), Glending Olson (Editor)
2nd Edition, ©2005, ISBN: 9780393925876
Trade Paperback, 688 pages
Current Retail Price: $21.00
Used Price: $14.00 (1 in stock) Condition Policy

Bawdy, pious, erudite, absurd, tragic, comic: here in Dryden's words is 'God's Plenty.' It wouldn't be too much to say that most Western literature after Chaucer is based on or influenced by The Canterbury Tales. Besides having some of the best opening lines ever...

"Whan that Aprill, with his shoures soote
The droghte of March hath perced to the roote
And bathed every veyne in swich licour
Of which vertu engendered is the flour"

...ol' Geoff was no slackhand when it came to amazing plots, either. Take "The Pardoner's Tale,"for instance: Three men set out to find and kill Death—they eventually find him, though not how they expected. Or the perennially bawdy "Miller's Tale" about the wrong man getting in the wrong bed, even though the bed he gets in is his own.

With their astonishing diversity of tone and subject-matter, The Canterbury Tales have become one of the touchstones of medieval literature. The tales are told by a motley crowd of pilgrims as they journey for five days from Southwark to Canterbury. Drawn from all levels of society and all walks of life (from knight to nun, miller to monk), the pilgrims reveal a picture of English life in the fourteenth century that is robust as it is representative. If you're worried these stories have nothing to offer the modern reader, you're wrong.

Tales in red are included in this volume:

Fragment 1 General Prologue, Knight, Miller, Reeve, Cook
Fragment 2 Man of Law
Fragment 3 Wife of Bath, Friar, Summoner
Fragment 4 Clerk, Merchant
Fragment 5 Squire, Franklin
Fragment 6 Physician, Pardoner
Fragment 7 Shipman, Prioress, Sir Thopas, Melibee, Monk, Nun's priest
Fragment 8 Second Nun, Canon's Yeoman
Fragment 9 Manciple
Fragment 10 Parson

The language can be difficult, but in this edition there are copious annotations explaining archaic or extinct words. This edition also includes extensive source and background material on the tales, as well as essays written by critics.

A Caution:

Some of the bawdy (crass) medieval conversation in at least two of the stories here is not—in our estimation—suitable for children. If you are planning on using this as a read-aloud, please peruse the stories beforehand!

Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he's a husband and father who loves church, good food, and weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here.
Did you find this review helpful?

Exodus Rating
FLAWS: Violence, language, sexual content
Summary: Chaucer's masterpiece is as pious as it is bawdy, as profound as it is unrestrained, and truly one of the few great works of fiction in the history of the world.

Related Categories
Online Study Guides
CliffsNotes Guide
Sparknotes Guide
Recommended for...