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Canterbury Tales

by Geoffrey Chaucer

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About Book

On a spring day in April--sometime in the waning years of the 14th century--29 travelers set out for Canterbury on a pilgrimage to the shrine of Saint Thomas Beckett. Among them is a knight, a monk, a prioress, a plowman, a miller, a merchant, a clerk, and an oft-widowed wife from Bath. Travel is arduous and wearing; to maintain their spirits, this band of pilgrims entertains each other with a series of tall tales that span the spectrum of literary genres. Five hundred years later, people are still reading Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. If you haven't yet made the acquaintance of the Franklin, the Pardoner, or the Squire because you never learned Middle English, take heart: this edition of the Tales has been translated into modern idiom.

From the heroic romance of "The Knight's Tale" to the low farce embodied in the stories of the Miller, the Reeve, and the Merchant, Chaucer treated such universal subjects as love, sex, and death in poetry that is simultaneously witty, insightful, and poignant. The Canterbury Tales is a grand tour of 14th-century English mores and morals--one that modern-day readers will enjoy.

From Publishers Weekly
This carefully researched and lively edition of a part of Chaucer's masterwork is richly and beautifully produced. While Cohen admits that "Chaucer's words are best," her prose adaptation of four of his tales captures the zest and vigor of Middle English and makes his stories accessible to the modern child. This is not a pedantic translation or a bowdlerized retelling; Cohen does not substitute weak cliches for Chaucer's rollicking and earthy metaphors, nor does she sacrifice the rhythms of his text. Readers hear the bickering of the pilgrims as they decide on which tale they want to hear next, and the rambling voice of the good Sir John as he laments Chaunticleer's fate. Hyman's meticulous drawings not only evoke the rich panoply of 14th century England, but they are faithful to the text in the smallest detail. Each pilgrim is made particular: we see the Pardoner's limp hanks of hair and the Wife of Bath's gap-toothed smile and dainty ankle. One could not ask for a more enticing introduction to Chaucer's world. Ages 10-up.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal
Grade 3 Up Cohen has chosen wisely to adapt four stories from Chaucer's masterpiece for children with an overview of the pilgrimage, whetting the appetite for the real thing. She doesn't bowdlerize as Farjeon (Hale, 1930) and McCaughrean (Childrens, 1984; o.p.), who included more stories, had to. Cohen's choices: ``The Nun's Priest's Tale'' (Chauntecleer), ``The Pardoner's Tale'' (revelers in search of death), ``The Wife of Bath's Tale'' (variant of Sir Gawain and the Loathly Lady), and ``The Franklin's Tale'' (honor, fidelity, and generosity). She has given equal importance and depth to the tellers and to the tales. Her language, as always, is clear and fine. Hyman's glowing watercolors, bordered in gold, illuminate the tales. She has not painted the characters in flat, medieval style, but has given them the depth that the tales do, bringing them to life, dressed precisely as Chaucer described them, captured in a medieval frame, as Chaucer had framed them in the pilgrimage. Enjoy this impressive blend of talent. Helen Byrne Gregory, Grosse Pointe Public Library, Mich.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal
The old standby here gets its first facelift in more than 50 years. Librarian/author Ecker and scholar Crook translated Chaucer's Middle English into a more modern, more accesssible form. Large English literature collections should consider.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Times Higher Education Supplement
"...combines persuasive, intelligent and jargon-free interpretation of Chaucer's poems with a very useful running annotation of a wide range of contemporary criticism."

From AudioFile
In this immortal fourteenth-century collection, pilgrims to the shrine of slain St. Thomas Becket decide to beguile the journey by telling each other stories. With lusty verve and wit, Chaucer recounts them, partly in prose and partly in verse. Even when listening to the best translation from Middle English, the modern listener may not recognize many antiquated concepts and words (what ARE pardoners, reeves, summoners, etc.) without following along with a good annotated print edition--or at least a few notes. No notes come with this audio, in which David Butler essays an uncredited translation in pleasant, clear British tones. He recites with comprehension and as much expression as his limited range allows. He is, in short, somewhat dull. A smattering of sloppy edits further erodes the production. Y.R. © AudioFile 2002, Portland, Maine-- Copyright © AudioFile, Portland, Maine

A.C. Spearing, University of Virginia
"...unquestionably the best comprehensive study of Chaucer's poems in existence. It possesses Pearsall's usual merits of penetration, good sense, readability and wit. It is immensely informative and clear about the many complicated textual problems raised by the Tales, and shows a full knowledge and understanding of the whole range of interpretive work on the poem, but what it ultimately has to say is very much Pearsall's own."

Review of English Studies
"This urbane, witty and delightful book is likely to become a classic of Chaucer criticism..."

CHOICE, October 1994
"It is difficult to imagine anyone doing a better job than Ecker and Crook."

Book Description

A vigorous treatment of The Nun's Priest's Tale, The Pardoner's Tale, The Wife of Bath's Tale, and The Franklin's Tale. "This carefully researched and lively edition...is richly and beautifully produced....One could not ask for a more enticing introduction to Chaucer's world." -- Publishers Weekly.

Language Notes
Text: English (translation)

Card catalog description
An illustrated retelling of seven of the Canterbury Tales including the "The Nun's Priest's Tale," "The Pardoner's Tale," "The Wife of Bath's Tale," "The Franklin's Tale," "The Knight's Tale," "The Miller's Tale," and "The Reeve's Tale."

From the Publisher
Founded in 1906 by J.M. Dent, the Everyman Library has always tried to make the best books ever written available to the greatest number of people at the lowest possible price. Unique editorial features that help Everyman Paperback Classics stand out from the crowd include: a leading scholar or literary critic's introduction to the text, a biography of the author, a chronology of her or his life and times, a historical selection of criticism, and a concise plot summary. All books published since 1993 have also been completely restyled: all type has been reset, to offer a clarity and ease of reading unique among editions of the classics; a vibrant, full-color cover design now complements these great texts with beautiful contemporary works of art. But the best feature must be Everyman's uniquely low price. Each Everyman title offers these extensive materials at a price that competes with the most inexpensive editions on the market-but Everyman Paperbacks have durable binding, quality paper, and the highest editorial and scholarly standards.

Inside Flap Copy
Lively, absorbing, often outrageously funny, Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales is a work of genius, an undisputed classic that has held a special appeal for each generation of readers. The Canterbury Tales gather twenty-nine of literature's most enduring (and endearing) characters in a vivid group portrait that captures the full spectrum of medieval society, from the exalted Knight to the humble plowman. A graceful modren translation facing each page of the text allows the contemporary reader to enjoy the fast pace of these selections from The Canterbury Tales with the poetry of the Middle English original always at first hand.

About the Author

Barbara Cohen (1932-1992) was the author of several acclaimed picture books and novels for young readers, including The Carp in the Bathtub, Yussel's Prayer: A Yom Kippur Story, Thank You, Jackie Robinson, and King of the Seventh Grade.


The quoted review by me is of a book about the Canterbury Tales by Derek Pearsall. It has nothing whatever to do with Berbara Cohen's translated selections.


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