© 2001 Sound Room Publishing, Inc.
By happenstance, I started listening to The Canterbury Tales on Palm Sunday, the same day that the narration begins. As I pulled out of my driveway on an April morning, I had Chaucer's famous description of spring in my ears as a Christian procession marched by, led by a bag-pipe player. I was on a trek to Niagara Falls, but I was hearing the account of a different sort of pilgramage, written 600 years ago, but still sounding beautiful to the ear. In fact, I much preferred listening to these tales rather than reading them silently myself from the page. This is poetry, and the scansion and lyricism can easily get lost as the modern reader struggles with the early spellings and olden vocabulary. Be advised that the first tale, that of the knight, is extraordinarily long, formalistic, predictable, and maybe even just kind of boring. It must be a purposeful tip of Chaucer's funny-looking hat to the epic poetry of Homer. But don't give up early! Chaucer rewards the patient with the following tale from the miller which is the exact opposite--short, mean, and bawdy! You'll be shocked at just how old some of the English language's four-letter words are. This pattern continues as Chaucer has each of his pilgrams take turns telling stories in their own voice, and the diversity and contrast is enjoyable. BEWARE: Although this is advertised as an unabridged reading, I was dubious when I saw its rather short length. After listening to the entire program, I looked at my very thick printed version and found several tales there that were not included in the audio reading. I have made Audible aware of this. Nonetheless, such editing may be for the best--except for purists and academics--as this version certainly offers the lay reader/listener a representative sample of what Chaucer could do with an earlier version of our language.
As a group of thirty pilgrims set out from London to Canterbury, the inkeeper of the Tabard Inn joins them, and persuades them that, to while the time away, each should tell four stories. A medieval version of games to play in the car on a long journey. Chaucer only completed a few of these tales before his death, and the audiobook only contains a selection of these. It's so well narrated by David Butler that it's a pity that it's not more complete, but it's pretty long nonetheless. This is a book I have always struggled to read, given the archaic expressions, but after a few minutes of listening, I found my ear attuned to the rythms, and it was plain sailing. Be warned though - the tales pull no punches - loads of violence, amorous antics galore, insults aplenty and a dollop of anti-semitism. in fact it has all the makings of a modern TV script.
I listen to two audiobooks a month. My main interest is in a well-told story, so I enjoy a lot of fiction. But I like history as well
The narration is marvelous. If you struggled reading the tales in college, as I did, you will probably be delighted with the dramatic renditions presented here. On the other hand, you will be disappointed in finding only a handful of the tales. That will probably be your only disappointment, since it is so well done.
The reader is very good. However, I was disappointed in the selections. For example, The Wife of Bath's prologue but not the tale. Of course, what I really wish for is a well-done COMPLETE version, marked effectively enough so I can pick what I want to listen to.
This is a decent and enjoyable audio version of this classic work. I don't think quite all the tales were included, however, which would make this an abridged version, if I am correct.
I agree with the other reviewers about the great stories and narration. However, I usually listen to books on tape while doing other things. Unfortunately, this book requires few distractions and I just couldn't follow it without stopping and just listening.
The Canterbury tales are an important milestone in the development of English literature and well-worth an exploration. This modern translation gives the flavour of the story and brings to life the motley band of pilgrims en route to Canterbury. The stories themselves illustrate the preoccupations of the times and contemporary social mores.
Good entertainment, if only in small doses because of the slightly monotonous voice of the narrator.
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