It has been somewhat the fashion of late to declare that the difficulty of reading Chaucer has been greatly overestimated. Probably it has—for some people. Chaucer, compared with Beowulf, for instance, is play. For one who knows a little French, a little German, and a little Latin, who has a shadowy recollection of Grimm's Law, a good memory for obsolete and half obsolete expressions, and a natural talent for discovering the gist of a word, no matter how it is spelled, it is a simple matter to read Chaucer. Doubtless, it would be better if every one would read everything in the exact form which it took in its author's mind, the Canterbury Tales included; but, though most people claim to be able to appreciate humor, pathos, character-drawing, mischievous satire, and love of nature, and though all these qualities are found abundantly in the poetry of Chaucer, yet I have never met man, woman, or child who, without a preparation somewhat akin to that just outlined, had ever read the Canterbury Tales for pleasure. That is why the Chaucer Story Book has been written. The twelve stories chosen are those requiring fewest omissions to adapt them to the taste of the present day. - Back Cover
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