Theseus returns from the wars in Thebes and imprisons the brother knights Palamon and Arcite, who both vie for the affections of Theseus's fair daughter, Emily. Here's a fascinating and surprising performance from the world's leading experts on Chaucerian pronunciation. Chaucer's evolving tongue drew from a huge melting pot of ornate Norman and Latin word endings combined with guttural Celtic and German roots. The late Richard Bebb employs a heightened performance and complete command of the original Middle English to draw out the meter, meaning, and emotion of this somber and classically based selection. This may not be the easiest listening, but hearing Chaucer's words as he heard them is well worth the effort.
The Knight's Tale of medieval wars and chivalry is the first tale told to the pilgrims as they set out to Canterbury. It concerns Theseus, returning from fighting at Thebes, and two brother knights Palamon and Arcite, imprisoned but yearning for their loves. But the real hero of this recording is Richard Bebb who, with the help of Professor Derek Brewer, the leading expert on Chaucerian pronunciation, make the original Middle English not only comprehensible to the modern ear, but exciting.
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"Looking for entertainment not scholarship"
I should have listened to a sample rather than have believed the description "accurate but easy to understand Middle English." No sooner had I downloaded the book than I realised that I did not want to listen as hard as would be required to appreciate this classic tale. If, unlike me, you are prepared to invest a bit more thoughtfulness, then this would be a good listen. I'll keep it in my library in the hopeful expectation that I will someday be more scholarly or patient.
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