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1.0 out of 5 starsNot the book I was expecting
Reviewed in the United States on November 13, 2018
I was expecting the book with 10 "fragments" and 24 stories to read. But instead, I received this book of about 6 stories, in summarized modern English form, more or less like cliff note version of the 6 stories. I wish the seller or Amazon would have specified the version and what to expect at the time I was buying. In this form that I received, I won't even give it to an elementary school student to read as it has no style nor beauty in the language. And, the stories might have some moral lessons, the correct book version would have told it much better. I felt the urge to report this as I don't want other buyers to fall into the same trap.
5.0 out of 5 starsBeware! The Penguin cloth bound version is nice, but not the original language of Chaucer!
Reviewed in the United States on July 21, 2020
I have purchased several of these well-constructed little Penguin editions. For Chaucer's CANTERBURY TALES I was expecting, perhaps, a bilingual version on opposing pages or an interlinear transliteration of the Middle English original, but these were not to be. Instead, this version contains a very readable "modern English" verse rendition by Nevill Coghill, the first printing of which occurred in 1951. It is certainly not the language of Chaucer, but Coghill does an admiral job of maintaining the humor and spirit of the tales. He is an able rhymer and reminds that there is merit (and considerable effort, apparently) in compiling a version that is accessible enough to unfamiliar readers to be easily followed and understood, but still lyrical enough to signal that they are experiencing something special in the history of English Letters -- the unique underlying forms and style that make Chaucer "the father of English poetry." For readers who wish to graduate to the actual Middle English text, that version is available in a relatively inexpensive Penguin Classics paperback edition that the publisher identifies as the original [Middle English] language of Chaucer. Readers are advised to choose carefully when ordering, lest they receive an inappropriate version for their needs!
I should start by saying this is the first review I've ever written. I couldn't give this 1 star because of course the actual story is a wonderful classic, but the physical copy was abysmal. I'm about half way through and over a hundred pages have fallen out now. Every time I turn the page a new one falls out. I've finally managed to stop more pages from falling out now only by opening up to the page I'm on just enough to read it but not nearly all the way. I'm very disappointed in the quality of the manufacturing of this book.
4.0 out of 5 starsGreat for personal reading, but be careful for using as a college text...
Reviewed in the United States on February 16, 2016
I actually had to order this book for a college course. I searched for it using the ISBN code. The book got here very quick and was in perfect shape. However, I will warn that this version/copy of the book doesn't contain the prologues or epilogues for the short stories within it. So I had to use a classmate's book to read those for exams. However, if you are getting this for fun for yourself, it should be a great copy. One great thing about this copy in comparison to others is it actually has each of the stories in both Old English and Modern English, which is extremely cool!
3.0 out of 5 starsReview of Everyman's Library copy -- Middle English!
Reviewed in the United States on June 12, 2019
This is a review if the Everyman's Library copy, for which there is no "look inside" feature.
This is not a modern translation, but rather the original Middle English. If that's your bag, this book is for you. But most people will not be looking for the literature professor version, I'm guessing.
2.0 out of 5 starsFor the Most Part Nasty, Boring and/or Derivative of Greek and Roman Myths
Reviewed in the United States on December 17, 2020
OK. If you're bored and like to read reviews, or are considering buying this book by choice, here's a warning:
* Imma trash Canterbury Tales regardless of what literary geniuses say. *
Some stories in the Canterbury Tales would make the writers of South Park blush (lookin' at you, Miller!). This was a required textbook for a lit class. Instructor said "If you don't laugh out loud at The Miller's Tale, you may as well drop this class." If we hadn't been in week 9 of 11 in a course required for my degree, I would be richer and less annoyed right now.
There are a couple good parts here, but the rest of it reads like an ad for brain bleach. Why it's considered a classic worthy of intense study still escapes me after listening to hours of lectures, writing two one-page papers and a 5-page essay about it.
I gave it two stars for the Prologue's lyric descriptions of the knight, the parson and the ploughman, which show the author could have been a much better writer if he hadn't tried so hard to combine snide commentary, bathroom humor and classical meanderings. To be fair, I've never liked the Three Stooges, either. It's that type of humor, only coarser.
In several places the tales are a "borrowed" re-telling or adaptation of older ones, butchered or embellished by Chaucer to the point of serving as an excellent sleep aid. In my doubtless very plebian and unrefined world, basing half your book on other writers' tales is called plagiarism.
If you're getting into classics and have a choice, may I suggest from the same lit class Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Don Quixote, or even Beowulf with its ancient but lovely language in the Heaney translation, as more entertaining and educational reads.
My professor tells me there's deeper meaning here. I must be a very shallow person, then, because I'd rather read the label on a box of oatmeal - more wholesome and probably better written. The Miller's Tale's Alison, the Sweet Weasel, is a slut to put the thing in plain terms, and the Wife of Bath not much better. Don't get me started on the Pardoner, whose religious hypocrisy sets new lows even compared to our time. That tale was mildly amusing, if you enjoy satire.
Overall, this book should prove very useful in the current lavatory paper shortages. There, I've found some use for Chaucer.
Reviewed in the United States on November 21, 2020
Unfortunately, purchased this book in September for son's high school class this semester. He went to use the book this week and tore some pages because the sheets had never been separated. And the pages that were separated in a section of the book, had jagged, rough edges, looks like it was ripped apart to separate the pages. Very disappointed with this poor quality book.
This Kindle edition has no line numbers, a serious lack in the printing of poetry. But more important, the facing pages of the print edition -- one page in the original Middle English, and the other in modern English -- don't line up in the digital copy.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 30, 2018
How can anyone not like this very well "translated" work? Full of character (and characters), each pilgrim tells his or her own tale, some mysterious, some comic, some bawdy, on their way to Canterbury. Reading this made me realise that human nature may change over the centuries, but the human heart does not. Excellent and 10 out of 10.
I have loved Chaucer's work since my days at Grammar School in the 1940's and 1950's and this edition affords my return to the world of "Middle English.". There are good translations available to read alongside if this is necessary and in particular I would recommend that of Nevill Coghill written when at Exeter College, Oxford. I am continuing to make my way alone currently and enjoying every minute of this serious but very entertaining work of life in the period in which Chaucer lived and wrote. The characters come to life very readily and the "tales" they tell are really quite something ! I recommend it highly and wish you good luck along your pilgrimage from London to Canterbury.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 28, 2015
*This review relates specifically to the KINDLE edition*
I am very disappointed by this Kindle book. It is essentially unreadable. There appear to be no explanatory footnotes in the Kindle edition so the numbers in brackets in the text that relate to the footnotes are useless. There are translation of various words indicated by an asterisk that are jumbled untidily amongst the text. This has clearly not been properly adapted as an e-book. It may be a cheap e-book but it money thrown away.
I bought this to help with my British Middle Ages class at university, and found that the translation was really good and comprehensible. However, the translators didn't even attempt to rhyme the lines as Chaucer had (except on those occasions where they happened to rhyme anyway), and there weren't corresponding line numbers, so if you're reading a Middle-English version and have trouble understanding the language, you can't just find the same line in this version - you have to read through it until you think you've found the right place - of you just go through each line-by-line, but that gets a bit irritating. However, when just considering this book without comparing it to others, it is well-translated and has a useful bit at the back entitled "Explanatory Notes" where it briefly goes over each tale and explains the translations and sometimes words and how they would have differed in Middle English. I'd say it was a good buy.