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The Canterbury Tales [Blackstone] Audiobook
The Canterbury Tales [Blackstone]
Written by: 
Geoffrey Chaucer
Narrated by: 
Martin Jarvis, Jay Carnes, Ray Porter, John Lee, Malcolm Hillgartner, Ralph Cosham, Simon Vance
The Canterbury Tales [Blackstone] Audiobook

The Canterbury Tales [Blackstone]

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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

Average Customer Rating

3.5 (425 )
5 star
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3.7 (286 )
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4.0 (282 )
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3 star
 (49)
2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Rebecca 03-31-13
    Rebecca 03-31-13 Member Since 2009

    Love to read, and Audible has made the two-hour daily commute enjoyable!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Literary History that I'm Glad I've Read"

    Not what I expected. I knew it was about a group of pilgrims going to Canterbury and of course I'd heard of some of the bawdier tales.

    The variety of styles are fabulous - some more high-tone, and others lively and humorous. I'm wondering if this is the first documentation of fart jokes?

    Many of the religious tales are criticism of the church - carnal priests, the church selling "indulgences", unchristian rants.

    And then the Parson's tale at the end seems to almost negate the former and begs people to repent and guard against the seven deadly sins. After that, Chaucer has a brief ending that asks for God's mercy and begs forgiveness. I thought - "what the heck was that?" and actually was pleased to read that many others reacted the same way.

    This book has modern language - and it was still difficult - especially with some tales - like the Parson's being over 3 hours with much lecturing and quoting of Greek and Roman philosophers and the scriptures. Still - a piece of history that I'm glad I have read.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sharon 03-27-13
    Sharon 03-27-13 Member Since 2015
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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.


    2 of 2 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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    "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.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    History Buff Maryland 03-20-13
    History Buff Maryland 03-20-13 Member Since 2012

    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.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mark 03-26-15
    Mark 03-26-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Interesting"

    Always meant to read this - the translation is understandable but still gives you a sense of the language of the time. Skip some of the more boring tales (Melibee and the Parsons tale) and it's a very entertaining listen.

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Scott 01-20-14
    Scott 01-20-14

    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
  •  
    Tim Coley 12-23-14
    Tim Coley 12-23-14 Member Since 2012
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    "good collection of stories"

    Very good performance. some of the tales felt a little rushed. It is odd that some of the tales abruptly end.

    0 of 1 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
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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 6 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 2015
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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 12 people found this review helpful
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  • Curran
    Staplehurst, United Kingdom
    1/8/13
    Overall
    "masterly reading makes this classic enjoyable"

    I am not in the least a Chaucer scholar - partly because previously I had not managed to get very far with reading the Tales for myself. So I can only write as a novice and an amateur, but I am listening intently and enjoying the book in a multiplicity of ways. The variety of the Tales themselves, the drama and humour of the work, the way in which is it all structured; and the music of the language , which is retained in this modern translation and which does gain from being read aloud. I hesitated for some time before buying this book, thinking it might be too much for me. On the contrary, I am relishing it and am grateful to such gifted readers for bringing this very special text alive for me.

    12 of 12 people found this review helpful
  • Zoe
    Stourbridge
    4/7/13
    Overall
    "Olde English classic"

    If, like me, you have always intended to read this national treasure but been daunted by the language then the audiobook is a good option. The various narrators do an excellent job of bringing the different characters to life. Some tales are witty and interesting but I found a few others to be too preachy or long-winded for modern tastes. However, I am glad that I have finally heard the tales in full!

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • L WILSON
    12/1/15
    Overall
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    "English Classic"

    I wish Goodreads allowed us a half mark, as this book is worth 4 1/2 star rating. I could not give it 5 as that belongs to the original Middle English version which I have read along side this version.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Amazon Customer
    10/21/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Bit disappointing"

    Like other reviewers I thought I would try this having struggled with the books, thinking that a "modern english " version might be easier. Although it isn't Chaucerian language I still would not call this modern english. Prehaps it's was the book and not the language I am not enjoying, but can't fault the actors.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Ian
    2/18/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A Spot o' Banter"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Only for those who liked good rhyming schemes.


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

    The friar's tale


    Any additional comments?

    I want to translate all future books into rhyme.
    Also, its not olde or middle English, very listenable.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Miss
    Saffron Walden, United Kingdom
    5/27/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "How bizarre"

    I am glad I am not a literature student and have to read through and study these. I bought them because it was something I thought I should have read, a classic. I didn't manage to complete, perhaps only one third. Many of them just appear to be rhyming toilet humour. A group of people go on pilgrimage - a rough set of coarse non-believing folk it appears, why go to a holy site? Each tells a different tale to entertain the others, some are very sad and moral, most smutty and boring. It is rather hard to listen to great quantities of poetry when used to listening to prose, but the narrators do a very good job. Not recommended, but perhaps I am a literary heathen.

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Paul
    Reading, United Kingdom
    4/8/13
    Overall
    "Not as good as I thought it might be..."

    I bought this because I have never read the Cantebury tales and thought I really ought to. At it's best it is amusing in parts but so much of book is intended to be salutory that I found myself wishing seveal of the pieces would just end.

    The narration was fine with some excellent performances and that did help somewhat, but at the end we have a rather preachy story lightened with a few interesting tales.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Daniel
    Haderslev, Denmark
    2/26/12
    Overall
    "The Canterbury Tales"

    It may be a classic but since my daughter wasn't that into it I will have to give it one star.

    1 of 44 people found this review helpful

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