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The Canterbury Tales | [Geoffrey Chaucer]

The Canterbury Tales

In this edition, we hear, translated into modern English, 20-some tales, told in the voices of knight and merchant, wife and miller, squire and nun, and many more. Some are bawdy, some spiritual, some romantic, some mysterious, some chivalrous. Between the stories, the travelers converse, joke, and argue, revealing much about their individual outlooks upon life as well as what life was like in late 14th-century England.
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Publisher's Summary

At the Tabard Inn, 30 travelers of widely varying classes and occupations are gathering to make the annual pilgrimage to Becket's shrine at Canterbury. It is agreed that each traveler will tell four tales to help pass the time and that the host of the inn will judge the tales and reward the best storyteller with a free supper upon their return.

Thus we hear, translated into modern English, 20-some tales, told in the voices of knight and merchant, wife and miller, squire and nun, and many more. Some are bawdy, some spiritual, some romantic, some mysterious, some chivalrous. Between the stories, the travelers converse, joke, and argue, revealing much about their individual outlooks on life, as well as what life was like in late 14th-century England.

©2003 Gavin Menzies; (P)2008 Blackstone Audio

What Members Say

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  •  
    Kindle Customer United States 03-18-12
    Kindle Customer United States 03-18-12 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Finally it made sense..."
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Canterbury Tales to be better than the print version?

    Gee. I've struggled in print both in old english and whatever modern translation I had but this translation was alive whereas in the past the language stood in my way. This time the language enhanced the personalities of the story...


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    I forget her name but she had intensely foul language.. and poetry to boot..


    Have you listened to any of the narrators’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    This was a good group for the various voices.. Women and men telling the tale..


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

    No not one moment but I realized that I probably am a medieval christian prior to being a Buddhist..


    Any additional comments?

    Listen and let this solve the mystery of what the whole trip was about...

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    History Buff Maryland 03-20-13
    History Buff Maryland 03-20-13 Member Since 2005

    Grace

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    "Mark Twain got it right"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    If they want to listen (vs read) a translation that gives the feel of Middle English, then yes. (Middle English? or before that, even?).


    Would you ever listen to anything by Geoffrey Chaucer again?

    Luckily, I don't think any other book he wrote has survived, or at least, has not been read into an audible version!


    What does the narrators bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    The women narrators were much easier for my ear to listen to...of course, some of the men were good, too. But some of the men --and their English-- were really difficult to grab onto.


    Was The Canterbury Tales worth the listening time?

    20 hours 9 minutes, by my count (49 minutes according to Audible). Well, of course it was, because if I wanted to know what it was all about, I needed to listen to it all. But if it were not such a classic....well....


    Any additional comments?

    Twain said something like "Classics are books we think we ought to have read but never do." Well, that's probably a pretty poor paraphrase, but still, it fits Chaucer.By and large, it was a boring book to listen to; I had difficulty keeping my attention focused on most of the tales. The Wife of Bath, The Second Nun, The Friar....they all had something good in them. Some of them were pretty bawdy! The last one, the Parson's Tale, explicates Roman Catholic theology in more detail than probably even Pope Francis would want to listen.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Diane Sklensky Syracuse, NY USA 07-30-12
    Diane Sklensky Syracuse, NY USA 07-30-12 Member Since 2011
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    5
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    "An Intriguing Classic with Rich Characters"
    Would you listen to The Canterbury Tales again? Why?

    I'm sure that there were things that I missed - but, despite the lively, updated language and frequently entertaining characters, quite a lot of medieval attitudes came through and I probably will not listen again. I'm glad that I listened to it once, though, to know what it was about and get a feeling for the time. I was intrigued by the degree to which the seeds of the Renaissance were present in the extensive quotations from the classics - I had not realized that was already occurring at the time in England. But so many of the characters went ON and ON quoting the classics that I suspect that I will not feel the urge to return to it.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    The Franklin, I think. So many of the characters were spiteful or otherwise ungenerous that his Tale was a pleasant relief (if I am remembering correctly).


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The Franklin's Tale.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Not an extreme reaction - some of it was quite funny, but I don't think I laughed aloud.


    Any additional comments?

    It was, I'm sure, far easier to listen to than to read and I do feel better informed for having heard such a classic work of literature. The excellent performances made many of the tales very engaging.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Grant Arlington, VA, United States 03-23-14
    Grant Arlington, VA, United States 03-23-14 Member Since 2011
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    "Beautiful production; mixed bag for modern folks"

    The work is beautifully performed by multiple readers, who all do a marvelous job. The text has been modernized for contemporary readers, but still retains little touches of middle English vocabulary and pronunciation here and there. These touches are enough to give the text some period flavor, but not so much as to obscure understanding; meaning is generally clear enough from context.

    As far as the text goes, well, despite it's being a classic, it is a bit of a mixed bag for the modern listener. Some parts are just a lot less enjoyable than others. Say the material falls into three categories. First, there are parts that are universal and timeless, and can be easily and fully appreciated by a modern reader. A second group is still enjoyable but is noticeably less accessible. The reader who is not familiar with the period may miss significant amounts of nuance and references unless they are prepared to do a little extra work (say, a quick whiz thru Wikipedia. Third, there are a couple of selections that are impenetrable or just a bore unless you have very specialized tastes or knowledge or both. So just be warned that a few of the tales (and some are not even really stories) will leave you impatient to move on to the next selection.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Scott United States 01-20-14
    Scott United States 01-20-14 Member Since 2012

    I enjoy reading fantasy, science fiction, and horror the most. To improve, I read about language, psychology, spirituality, and art. I read about computer science and business for professional reasons.

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    "A classic of many poetic tales."

    From a literary perspective this book was a work of art, from a personal perspective I both hated and loved The Canterbury Tales.

    Literarily, most of the book was in poem. Rhythm and rhymes of various sorts added all the enoyable but relatively meaningless cues to listen for. In a sense, the poetry almost added an element of song to the storyline. Although at times, regular prose was used without rhyme, which seemed to resemble some of the elements of rational composition as in essay format.

    The setting was of old England, and the main setting was actually a platform for storytelling. And so from the main setting numerous stories were told. Stories of knights, kings, law, religion, sailing, commerce, battle, treachery, and many more human situations were all told in varying styles. A lot of old English words made interpretation a challenge at times, but the descriptions and plots were so highly developed as to make the effort worthwhile.

    My favorites were of adventure and trustworthy reason, and least favorites were of grossness and manipulative reason. Possibly the most hated was the judgemental fanatic who would first describe a great or majestic thing, and then try to position himself as the benevolate giver of that thing, and then add a bunch of ridiculous conditions merged with tortorous language. When in reality all he did was say words, and I found myself having to repeatedly reclaim the words, and blockade the storyteller from any object of thought, so not to have a good concept ruined by such ruthless tactics.

    All in all, I enjoyed the book, and feel the entire range of human experience was somehow included. For one author to be able to change into and out of such modes, and write them in poetry with such an array of words, tells me why Chaucer is such a highly regarded author throughout the world's times.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sharon Santa Maria, CA, United States 03-27-13
    Sharon Santa Maria, CA, United States 03-27-13 Member Since 2012
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    "More Wonderful Than I Remembered"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Canterbury Tales to be better than the print version?

    Yes. I enjoyed the performances by the narrators, the wonderful stories, and the amazing rhyming ability of the author. They make this a memorable event.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Canterbury Tales?

    I loved and enjoyed each and every one of the stories.


    What does the narrators bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    The narrators actually bring these stories to life with their wonderful voices and reading abilities.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    Tales you will never forget.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Temecula Preparatory School Winchester, CA, United States 10-25-11
    Temecula Preparatory School Winchester, CA, United States 10-25-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "why this book"

    the book shows how the gruop of people that were complete strangers can get along on the way to canterbury

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Shelly Silver Spring, MD, United States 03-31-13
    Shelly Silver Spring, MD, United States 03-31-13 Member Since 2009
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    "What a waste of time and money"
    What would have made The Canterbury Tales better?

    The story was still difficult to understand. I think that the fault was really the way it was written rather than the performance


    What do you think your next listen will be?

    not sure


    Would you be willing to try another one of the narrators’s performances?

    yes


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Canterbury Tales?

    i couldn't finish it


    Any additional comments?

    disappointing

    0 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Straycat OTR trucker, WI, USA 03-17-13
    Straycat OTR trucker, WI, USA 03-17-13 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "not an audiobook for Atheists."
    Would you try another book from Geoffrey Chaucer and/or the narrators?

    Chaucer? no. the narrators? yes, they did a great job.


    What do you think your next listen will be?

    probably something by Robert A. Heinlein or Penn Jillette


    What about the narrators’s performance did you like?

    one of the narators was John Lee. I LOVE John Lee, I love his voice, I love his range, I love how he brings what he is reading to life. John Lee's reading of Alistar Reynolds books is what made me buy this audio book. and the first Canterbury Tale, the Knights Tale, was almost all I could have hoped for!the other narrators do a good job as well. but the subject matter started to turn my stomach.


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Canterbury Tales?

    this is a hard question to answer. it's well written and translated from ye olde french to modern English. the flow and the prose are acceptable, even as gruesome and gossipy as the stories get, that is not my problem.I am an Atheist. I was in training to be a priest, until I actually started to READ the bible. then I read other versions of the bible... if the bible is the Literal Word Of God, why the hell are there so many different version? and why are there so many religions Based On The Same God?Had Chaucer not invoked "the one and only true Christian God" so dam much, I would have enjoyed this book. the performances are excellent, the prose, flow and rhyme are very well done. I have no issues with thee's and thou's and inasmuch's.


    Any additional comments?

    from a historical perspective, this is a good book. but Every Freaking time they mention "GOD" it makes me wanna puke just a little bit more.it is kind of like having a ladies husband walk into the room just after you start making love to her, it ruins the mood when she starts lying that she did NOT invite you in, she did Not wear her best teddy for you, and her husband isn't willing to listen to your counter arguments...not that I have that problem very often, I'm just using that as an example of how constant repeated references to an imaginary friend take me out of the story and make it hard to enjoy.

    0 of 9 people found this review helpful
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