The Canterbury Tales (Oxford World's Classics)

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9780199599028: The Canterbury Tales (Oxford World's Classics)
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Beyond all doubt the greatest work of English literature before Shakespeare, Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales brings together an unforgettable group of pilgrims on their way to Canterbury, pilgrims who came from all ranks of society, from the crusading Knight and burly Miller to the worldly Monk and the famously lusty Wife of Bath. Their tales are as various as the tellers, including romance, bawdy comedy, beast fable, learned debate, parable, and Eastern adventure. The resulting collection gives us a set of characters so vivid that they have often been taken as portraits from real life, and a series of stories as hilarious in their comedy as they are affecting in their tragedy. Even after 600 years, their account of the human condition is fresh and true. David Wright's verse translation has long been admired for its brilliance and fidelity. This new edition adds representative passages from the important but overlooked prose tales, Melibee and the Parson's Tale, in new translations by Christopher Cannon, who also provides a new critical introduction and invaluable notes.

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Review:

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.

Book Description:

This textbook series provides concise and lucid introductions to major works of literature, from classical antiquity to the twentieth century. Each book provides close reading of the text, as well as giving a full account of its historical, cultural and intellectual background, a discussion of its influence, and further reading.

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