Audible Premium Plus

$14.95 a month

1 audiobook of your choice.
Stream or download thousands of included titles.
$14.95 a month after 30 day trial. Cancel anytime.
Buy for $12.59

Buy for $12.59

Pay using card ending in
By confirming your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and Amazon's Privacy Notice. Taxes where applicable.

Publisher's Summary

The Canterbury Tales, written near the end of Chaucer's life and hence towards the close of the 14th century, is perhaps the greatest English literary work of the Middle Ages: Yet it speaks to us today with almost undimmed clarity and relevance.

How do we know what Chaucer's English sounded like? The simplest way for the present reader to learn what Chaucer's pronunciation sounded like is to listen to Richard Bebb's superb reading of the current recording of The General Prologue of The Canterbury Tales. The knowledge it represents has been built up by the work of many scholars over centuries, which is now available in many competent studies and editions of Chaucer's poems.

The Physician's Tale is in origin a primitive folk tale about an "honor killing" that Chaucer found in Livy and elsewhere and enhanced. The wicked judge Apius wishes to abduct and rape the beautiful and virtuous Virginia, aged 14. Her father cannot save her. Rather than be dishonored, she allows him, to his utter grief, to behead her. But the people rise up against the cruel and wicked judge so that he is banished and his subordinates hanged. The rather strange moral drawn is that your sin will always find you out.

Presented in Middle English and in modern verse translation.

©2005 Naxos Audiobooks, Ltd. (P)2005 Naxos Audiobooks, Ltd.

What listeners say about The General Prologue and The Physician's Tale

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    15
  • 4 Stars
    8
  • 3 Stars
    3
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    3
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    12
  • 4 Stars
    3
  • 3 Stars
    0
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    1
Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    8
  • 4 Stars
    4
  • 3 Stars
    2
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Workmanlike reading in clear Middle English

The General Prologue is read rather slowly and clearly, making it pretty easy for a modern English speaker to understand (especially if you have a written version to follow along with), but not making it an especially enjoyable dramatic performance. The Tale of the Physician is faster and more exciting. Both readings in the original Middle English are followed by a reading in a modern English translation. If you ever doubted how much better Chaucer is in the original, hearing him back-to-back in Middle English and then in modern English makes the point. If you will forgive the comment and just to prevent anybody else being confused, Beowulf is an Old English (Anglo-Saxon) chant or song about Norse heroes and dragons, nothing remotely like this 14th century poem of English pilgrims telling a mix of folk stories and bawdy jokes.

9 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

mixed feelings

I studied Middle English while completing my graduate degree in English, and looked forward to hearing these in that version. While it is good to hear them, I was disappointed at the comparative monotone. The speaker does not seem to get into the spirit of the narration. I realize he is reading a "foreign language" and sympathize, but still it is disappointing. Part of the disappointment reflects on a live performance of Beowulf by Ben Bagley, which I still remember after a few years.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

WTF

Well, i didn't study Middle English and didn't realize this audiobook wasn't in English. Audible needs to be specific about this kind of thing. The whole experience was brutal.

1 person found this helpful