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
This new Blackstone recording of "Canterbury Tales" is wonderful and at times enthralling -- and also at times laugh-out-loud funny. Like the Charlton Griffin recording (also available here), it's the whole ball of wax: every tale, including the often-omitted Tale of Melibee and the Parson's Tale (which is really a three-hour sermon rather than a tale. Listen to it. It's good for the digestion, and quite a bit more interesting than it sounds). This translation, by J.U. Nicholson, uses a more old-fashioned vocabulary in places than the Coghill translation used by Griffin; but at the same time, it's also saltier. There are few crude names for parts or functions of the human body that Chaucer fails to use at one point or another, and most of them find their way into this recording. (For me, that's a GOOD thing!) One notable feature is that this is a multi-voice recording. Martin Jarvis is Chaucer, Ralph Cosham the Lawyer, Simon Vance the Squire; and that's only a few examples. Both this version and Griffin's version are five-star recordings in my book. Griffin's has occasional music, which this one lacks; on the other hand, this one has greater variety of tone and voice.
I love this audio version of the Tales, but without an index it can be frustrating to locate a particular tale. I'm a teacher, and like to have students listen to excerpts. I didn't complete the times for all of the tales, but hopefully what I provide here will save another teacher a lot of time.
Canterbury Tales Bookmarks on Audible edition
General Prologue, Part I to 46:20
Knight's Tale, Part I 46:25-- 2:51:52
Miller's Tale, Part I 2:52:03-- 3:30
Reeve's Tale, 3:30-- 3:55
Cook's Tale, 3:55-- 4:06
Lawyer's Tale, 4:06-- 4:57
Sailor's Tale, 4:57-- 5:23
Prioress' Tale, 5:23-- 5:39
Sir Thopas, 5:39-- 5:50
Melibee, 5:50-- 7:49
Monk, 00-- 48.56
Nun's Priest, 49:00-- 1:25:46
Epilogue 1:25:46 - 1:26.41
Physician, 1:26-- 1:42:13
Words of Host to Physician and Pardoner, 1:42:23-- 1:45
Pardoner, 1:45-- 2:18
Wife of Bath, 2:18-- 3:32:54
Friar 3:32:56 --
Squire, 00-- 32:21 (unfinished)
Host to Squire and Franklin, 32:22-- 34:15
Franklin, 34:15-- 1:18:33
Second Nun's Tale, 1:18:33
Here the Maker, 6:19-- 6:21:50
I purchased this audiobook to listen to as I read the Tales in Middle English for a graduate level seminar in Chaucer. Listening to this translation brought a deeper level of understanding to my studies. The translators' voices and tones fit perfectly with the tales they related. I enjoyed this experience immensely, and would recommend it to any student of Medieval Literature.
I love reading and listening to books, especially fantasy, science fiction, children's, historical, and classics.
The fourteen readers of The Canterbury Tales are excellent in changing their inflection, tone, and register to suit whatever is happening in their tales. Thus the ribald tales and insulting exchanges between pilgrims are funny, the tragic tales moving, and the virtuous tales uplifting. Nicholson's translation into modern English seems accurate enough; he maintains much of Chaucer's language and rhymes. At the same time, it is easy to follow the tales because of the fine readers, the clear translation, and Chaucer's natural storytelling.
The tales and their prologues and epilogues (in which the pilgrims comment on the tales and each other) are fascinating and enjoyable and depict the full range of human folly (sanctimonious con men friars, corrupt judges, cuckolded husbands, lickerish wives, drunken cooks, and crooked millers) and goodness (noble courtly lovers, wise wives, faithful husbands, self-sacrificing virgins, and pure saints). The variety of tales is also impressive: beast fables, ribald jokes, sermons, parables, romances, and so on. They give a priceless glimpse into various Medieval English occupations, lifestyles, and philosophies.
In short, if you're interested in Chaucer's tales, the Middle Ages, fine readings of good poetry, and life, or if you're studying the original Middle English version, I recommend this audiobook.
I thought the people reading these stories were fantastic! They were clear, emotive, and clearly had a strong grasp of what they were reading. Sometimes I had trouble navigating through the tales to find the one that I wanted, but that's just a minor inconvenience.
ALWAYS compelling. The verse is a joy to hear. In addition, Chaucer's crude, vulgar passages are uproarious! I WILL admit, however, that the Parson's tale, tho interesting, is a pain-in-the-ass to listen to (and I'm sure his fellow pilgrims probably agreed!). Overall, quite a treat!
I once owned the Canterbury Tales but I gave it to my local library when I moved, I really liked Canterbury but I did not have the time to reread them, Audio Books makes it possible for me to enjoy this collection again. Thirty travelers, from many walks of life, on a pilgrimage to the shrine at Canterbury are invited by the Tabard Inn keeper to tell stories that he will judge in exchange for a free meal when the winner returns. The travelers tell their stories covering many topics which are narrated by Martin Jarvis and Jay Carnes both doing justice to Geoffrey Chaucer works. This version of Canterbury is worth hearing and one I will come back to in the future, it is a keeper.
If they want to listen (vs read) a translation that gives the feel of Middle English, then yes. (Middle English? or before that, even?).
Luckily, I don't think any other book he wrote has survived, or at least, has not been read into an audible version!
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.
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....
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.
Moral, Eternal, Bawdy
Realizing that the common theme was that you eventually get what you deserve.
Having these classic tales told by the excellent narrators gave them life and made them understandable and enjoyable. It really beat reading them in school!
A Middle-English classic in the tradition of the Decameron, a series of storied told by a wide cross-section of 15th century English men & women. Terrific story telling, wonderful reading and a translation that maintains the rhythms and syntax of the original. Listening to the readers I found it simple to follow the original Middle English.
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.