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 Tales gathers 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.
This new edition includes a comprehensive introduction that summarizes some of the most important historical events and movements that defined the world of Chaucer and his pilgrims; two additional tales (Reeve's and Shipman s); introductions for each tale designed to prepare the reader for a better understanding and enjoyment of the tale; newly written and conveniently placed explanatory notes; and a new, more easily understood system for learning to pronounce Chaucerian Middle English.
About the Author
Thought to have been born in London, England, circa 1342 or 1343, Geoffrey Chaucer is considered "the first finder of our language" even before the time of Shakespeare. The Canterbury Tales ranks as one of the greatest poetic works in the English language. Perhaps the chief characteristics of Chaucer's works are their variety in subject matter, genre, tone, style, and in the complexities presented concerning man's pursuit of a sensible existence. Yet his writings also consistently reflect an all-pervasive humor, combined with serious and tolerant consideration of important philosophical questions. From his writings Chaucer emerges as a poet of love, both earthly and divine. His stories lead the listener to speculate about man's relationship both to other people and to his Maker, while simultaneously providing entertaining views of the frailties and follies, as well as the nobility, of mankind.
Constance B. Hieatt was an emeritus professor of English at the University of Western Ontario.
“A delight . . . [Raffel’s translation] provides more opportunities to savor the counterpoint of Chaucer’s earthy humor against passages of piercingly beautiful lyric poetry.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Masterly . . . This new translation beckons us to make our own pilgrimage back to the very wellsprings of literature in our language.” —Billy Collins
“The Canterbury Tales has remained popular for seven centuries. It is the most approachable masterpiece of the medieval world, and Mr. Raffel’s translation makes the stories even more inviting.”—Wall Street Journal