We are currently making improvements to the Audible site. In an effort to enhance the accessibility experience for our customers, we have created a page to more easily navigate the new experience, available at the web address www.audible.com/access.
The Life and Times of Chaucer | [John Gardner]

The Life and Times of Chaucer

In this exquisite biography, John Gardner brings to life Geoffrey Chaucer, illuminating his writings and their inspiration like never before. Through exhaustive research and expert storytelling, Gardner takes readers through Chaucer’s varied career - from writing The Canterbury Tales to performing diplomatic work at the Parliament - and creates a fully realized portrait of an author whose work would remake the English language forever. Written with passion and insight, this a must-listen for those interested in Chaucer and the medieval time period.
Regular Price:$29.95
  • Membership Details:
    • First book free with 30-day trial
    • $14.95/month thereafter for your choice of 1 new book each month
    • Cancel easily anytime
    • Exchange books you don't like
    • All selected books are yours to keep, even if you cancel
  • - or -

Your Likes make Audible better!

'Likes' are shared on Facebook and Audible.com. We use your 'likes' to improve Audible.com for all our listeners.

You can turn off Audible.com sharing from your Account Details page.

OK

Publisher's Summary

The pinnacle of Gardner’s medieval scholarship: a fascinating re-creation of the world of one of history’s greatest writers

In this exquisite biography, John Gardner brings to life Geoffrey Chaucer, illuminating his writings and their inspiration like never before. Through exhaustive research and expert storytelling, Gardner takes readers through Chaucer’s varied career - from writing The Canterbury Tales to performing diplomatic work at the Parliament - and creates a fully realized portrait of an author whose work would remake the English language forever.

Written with passion and insight, this a must-listen for those interested in Chaucer and the medieval time period.

©1977 John Gardner (P)2014 Audible, Inc.

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.9 (49 )
5 star
 (19)
4 star
 (13)
3 star
 (13)
2 star
 (3)
1 star
 (1)
Overall
4.0 (43 )
5 star
 (14)
4 star
 (19)
3 star
 (8)
2 star
 (1)
1 star
 (1)
Story
4.2 (44 )
5 star
 (22)
4 star
 (14)
3 star
 (4)
2 star
 (2)
1 star
 (2)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Kathi 02-26-14
    Kathi 02-26-14 Member Since 2010

    Love books! Classics and lighter fiction, mysteries (not too violent please :-). And selective non-fiction--whatever takes my fancy.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    1507
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    561
    260
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    320
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Good book, but quoted passages are in Old English"

    This was a very interesting book. I have long been interested in Chaucer as well as that entire period in history. I have only an average person's knowledge about the times, but very much wanted to hear more. John Gardner has written a great book--I listened at a leisurely pace over two nights--hearing about who Chaucer was, how involved he was in government, how he was cared about by others, and his place in literary history. There is a lot of insight into his writings and details of his life I found fascinating.

    I want to emphasize that this is a truly good book--one that is worth the read. But if you are hoping to hear the excerpts of Chaucer's written works in the way you might have read them yourself as modernized translations, you'll have to be fluent in the Old English language instead. That was lovely and melodic, I tried very hard to understand what I could take in between just listening and my knowledge of the works of Chaucer (in modern English).

    But at some point in the book, early on, there was a comment by the author that there was a glossary at the end of the book that translated the unfamiliar OE words into modern English. I felt a loss that Audible did not (to my knowledge) do anything to provide a link to a site somewhere where we could do that. I still think the book is worth 5 stars--it was well-written by a man who has a treasure's worth of information, and the narration was lovely--I really enjoyed the sounds of the Old English, and tried to use my limited knowledge of Chaucer's works to fill in what I could. What I was not able to understand (of the passages he quoted) I enjoyed, simply because the sounds were lovely. And I think that it was worth it, not having full understanding--I got to listen in a different way. Just wish Audible had made that part clear (or else this book might have been written for people the author assumed were more familiar with the Old English versions. But I don't think so, since it mentioned a glossary). Hopefully Audible can correct this--give us access to the glossary somewhere? I still recommend this as a lovely listen (to the Old English passages, just as they are) and information about Chaucer himself.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joshua 04-05-15
    Joshua 04-05-15
    HELPFUL VOTES
    13
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    36
    25
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Portrait of A Man And His Fascinating, Bygone Era"

    One of two things comes to mind when I think of John Gardner: serious literary fiction and amusingly opinionated writing guides. This book is neither of those. Rather, it's a straightforward historical biography.

    Personally, I found this book a bit dull. I was only mildly curious about Chaucer, and Gardner wrote this on a highly academic level. Much of the book is spent either resolving questions most people would find pedantic, or toeing the line between inference and speculation. "Life And Times" was most interesting for me when it moved away from its subject and explored the world around him. If you're a dedicated Chaucer-fan, or a Medievalist, then four stars all around. If you aren't part of the intended audience, I can't recommend it.

    Finally, the book contains several passages in Old English. Malcolm reads it as well as he can, but language that I have to go over slowly in print was near indecipherable to me in sound. The rewind button was much pressed.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mary Elizabeth Reynolds SUMMERVILLE, SC, United States 05-13-14
    Mary Elizabeth Reynolds SUMMERVILLE, SC, United States 05-13-14 Member Since 2013

    author of Lowcountry Legend's series

    HELPFUL VOTES
    124
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    85
    61
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    4
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Bio of the Chaucer tales"

    I enjoy a biography of an author that doesn't take all observations about the writer from their work but their life and times, that is what this one does rather than decipher a personality from prose. You won't regret this one.....

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert 06-24-15
    Robert 06-24-15
    HELPFUL VOTES
    13
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    35
    7
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Information ruined by two things"
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    No - to much extraneous material


    Did The Life and Times of Chaucer inspire you to do anything?

    no


    Any additional comments?

    As other commenters have said, the olde English passages are useless and I know a bit of olde English. I suspect many readers would be able to follow the written version because many the words are close to modern English; however, even those words become obscure when spoken with Chaucerian dialect. However, that being said, the other issue is that these passages are used to support ideas about Chaucer the real person and I DOUBT VERY MUCH that Chaucer even had the thought to use his poetry to express HIMSELF. This is modern literature scholarship rubbish. As Gardner admits - there is very little record on which to base any of this book - should be in fiction section.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Donald E. Campbell Pearl, MS USA 06-21-15
    Donald E. Campbell Pearl, MS USA 06-21-15 Member Since 2012

    reader

    HELPFUL VOTES
    18
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    56
    40
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    19
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Read this before you buy"
    Any additional comments?

    The first thing you need to know is that the underlying story is very good and very interesting. The way the author brings you back to Chaucer's time and the thinking of the time is very well done. Here is the problem -- throughout the book the author quotes from Chaucer's work in old english. And not just as an aside. It would be something like: "and here is how Chaucer felt about X as he set out in Y: quote in old english." I love to hear the old english spoken, but without a subsequent translation it is very confusing and causes you to miss some of the meaning in the book. I don't know if the meaning if clear if you are looking at the text or if there is an index/appendix in the physical book -- but that really took away some of the meaning in the otherwise very good book. And I thought the narrator did a very good job -- hearing old english spoken is awesome.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Aliza Rural New Hampshire 05-19-15
    Aliza Rural New Hampshire 05-19-15 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    11
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    70
    11
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    2
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Fascinating and imaginative"
    What did you love best about The Life and Times of Chaucer?

    I loved the author's capacity to make an ancient time come to life. The vividness of each character and the adroitness of interactions in this volatile time felt fully comprehensible, although conditions and circumstances differ from ours.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    I find it inspiring to read about someone who was humane, capable and able to reshape his work to critique any regime while still remaining in court favor.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    His final chapter about Chaucer's last thoughts was deeply moving… truly masterful. It will stay with me for a long time, as a lovely meditation on a great poet and a great biographer who's no longer with us.


    Any additional comments?

    I remember reading a review complaining about the length of the sentences. Just wanted to report that this in no way interfered with the pleasure of hearing the book narrated. The narrator 'holds' the meaning of each thought and conveys it admirably.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Report Inappropriate Content

If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.

Cancel

Thank You

Your report has been received. It will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.