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Chaucer's Canterbury Tales (Selected): An Interlinear Translation

af Geoffrey Chaucer

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Begun soon after 1386 and written during several years that followed, Geoffrey Chaucer's great narrative poem The Canterbury Tales presents a richly detailed, highly entertaining, and sometimes bawdy picture of English society in the fourteenth century. Rich with humorous insights into the many foibles of humanity, this poem is considered by most literary critics and scholars to be the first great example of literary art written in vernacular English. Its narrative opens as a party of 30 men and women from various walks of life gather at the Tabard Inn in London, from where they set out on a holy pilgrimage to Canterbury and its shrine dedicated to Thomas à Becket. As they travel, each person has a story to tell. The most famous and beloved of Chaucer's stories are presented in interlinear form this intensely readable volume. Alternating each of Chaucer's original lines with its translation into modern English, this book encourages readers to savor the genius of Chaucer's original poetry while following each line with an easy-to-understand modern translation of his Southeast Midlands dialect of Middle English. This scholarly yet truly approachable translation of Chaucer's original poem is the work of Vincent F. Hopper, a longtime professor of English literature at New York University. He opens with the famous Prologue-- Whan that Aprille with his shoures sote When April with his showers sweet The droghte of Marche hath perced to the rote, The drought of March has pierced to the root --and then goes on to present The Miller's Tale The Reeve's Tale The Prioress's Tale The Nun's Priest's Tale The Pardoner's Tale The Wife of Bath's Tale The Franklin's Tale . . . and more. This fine volume also includes an enlightening introductory essay on Chaucer's art, with Professor Hopper's commentary on England as it existed in the fourteenth century. He concludes with a short list of recommended reading on Chaucer's time and his art.… (mere)
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Viser 4 af 4
Terribly hard to get used to the writing, initially. But once you pick it up, you realize that Chaucer was one saucy dog. His tales are riddled with jokes that would make playboy blush. Seriously. Take a look at the kinds of jokes people told at bars in the 14th century. ( )
  Rosenstern | Sep 14, 2014 |
I always knew that Chaucer's Canterbury Tales was an important work, and one that I should read someday. However, it wasn't until I became interested in the development of the English language that I decided to read Chaucer. He was one of the first, if not the first, non-clerical writers in the English vernacular, and all of the weird Saxon and French influences are on display in this bilingual, interlinear translation by Vincent Hopper. What I did not anticipate was the bawdiness of Chaucer's subject matter. While the Knight's tale is somewhat boring and moralistic, many of the other selected tales in this volume are pretty spicy. Who knew that people in the Middle Ages were as preoccupied with sex and money as their modern counterparts? If I had known about the Miller's and Reeve's tales in high school, I would have definitely had the Canterbury Tales on my reading list. And now that I'm a middle aged modern man . . . Hooray for the Wife of Bath and her libido!

I was also intrigued by Hopper's Introduction to this volume in which he discussed the influence of Chaucer's diplomatic travel on his writing, particularly his trip to Italy in 1372 where Petrach and Boccaccio reigned over the beginning of a literary renaissance. Hopper states that Chaucer was apparently unacquainted with Boccaccio's The Decameron, but I find that hard to believe given the similarity of the works, including the serial story-telling, the generally bawdy nature of both works, and the targeting of corrupt clergy (for which I am surprised that neither author was burned at the stake or thrown into boiling oil).

Get yourself a reader's guide and dive into at least a selection of the Canterbury Tales! ( )
  ninefivepeak | Mar 21, 2010 |
I was a little surprised at how enjoyable "Canterbury Tales" was, as it was written from 1386 to Chaucer's death in 1400 and I suppose I had the misconception that it might be a bit dusty and dry. The editorial "selection" by Hopper and the "interlinear" translation putting modern English next to ye Olde variety were surely helpful, but it's Chaucer himself who is the star. In his stories he paints a picture of life in the Middle Ages and displays a great deal of insight into human nature, all the while doing so in a way that is informal and fun. It's a pity that the work was only about a quarter finished relative to his original plan.

Quotes:
On Adultery, from the Franklin's Tale:
"Let such folly disappear from your heart.
What pleasure would a man have in his life
to go love another man's wife,
who has her body whenever he pleases"

On Censorship, from the Prologue to the Miller's Tale:
"And therefore, whoever prefers not to hear it,
turn over the page, and choose another tale;
for he will find enough, large and small,
of storied things that concern gentility,
and also morality and holiness;
don't blame me if you choose amiss.
The Miller is a churl, you know this well;
so was the Reve, and many more of the others.
And both of them told bawdy tales.
Make up your minds and don't put the blame on me;
and besides people should not take fun seriously."

On Death, from the Knight's Tale:
"Alas, the severing of our companionship!
Alas, my heart's queen! Alas, my wife!
My heart's lady, ender of my life!
What is this world? What do men ask to have?
Now with his love, now in his cold grave
Alone, without any company."

Also:
"And certainly a man has most honor
to die in his prime and flower,
when he is sure of his good name;
Then has he done no shame to his friend or himself.
And his friend ought to be more glad of his death,
when with honor he yielded up his breath,
than when his name had faded with age;
for all forgotten are his exploits.
Thus it is best, for a worthy reputation,
to die when one is in the height of fame."

On God, from the Knight's Tale:
"How is mankind more beholden to you
than the sheep that huddles in the fold?
For man is slain like any other beast.
and also dwells in prison and detention,
and suffers sickness and great adversity,
and many times guiltless, God knows!
What justice is in this Omniscience,
that torments guiltless innocence?
And yet this increases all my torture,
that man is bound by his obedience,
for God's sake, to restrain his desires,
whereas a beast may fulfill all its appetites."

On Love, from the Knight's Tale:
"He fell suddenly into a study,
as lovers do in their changeful ways,
now in the treetops, now down in the briars,
now up, now down, like a bucket in a well,
just as on Friday, to state a fact,
sometimes it shines, sometimes it pours."

On Old Age, from the Prologue to the Reeve's Tale:
"The poor tongue may well ring and chime
about follies that happened long ago;
except for dotage there is nothing else for old folk."

On Religion, from the Prologue to the Pardoner's Tale:
""Of avarice and of such cursedness
is all my preaching, to make them liberal
to give their pennies, and especially to me.
For my intention is only for profit,
and not at all for correction of sin.
...
For in truth, many a sermon
comes often out of evil intention;
some for the pleasing and flattering of people,
to have advancement by hypocrisy,
and some for worldly fame, and some for hate.
...
Thus I spit out my venom under color
of Holiness, while seeming holy and sincere."

On Sex, from the Prologue to the Wife of Bath's Tale:
"Tell me also, for what purpose
were the organs of generation made,
and for what purpose was a body made?
Trust it right well, they were not made for nothing.
...they are made for both,
that is to say, for function and for pleasure
of begetting, where we do not displease God.
Why otherwise should men state in their books
that man shall pay his debt to his wife?
Now with what should he make his payment,
if he does not use his instrument?
...
In wifehood I will use my instrument
as freely as my Maker has bestowed it.
If I be grudging, God give me sorrow!
My husband shall have it both night and morning,
whenever he wants to come forth and pay his debt."

Also:
"What ails you to grouch so and groan?
Is it that all you want is my tail?
Why take it all, here, have every bit of it:
Peter! Curse you but you love it well!"

On Sorrow, form the Nun's Priest's Tale:
"'...My heart is full of joy and satisfaction.'
But suddenly a sorrowful event befell him;
for the latter end of joy is always woe.
God knows that worldly joy is soon departed..."

On Women and Men, from the Prologue to the Wife of Bath's Tale:
"But in our bed he was so fresh and gay,
and, besides, he could cajole me so well,
when he would have my pretty thing,
that even though he had beaten me on every bone,
he could very quickly win my love again.
I guess I loved him best because he
was miserly of his love to me.
We women have, if I do not lie,
a curious notion in this matter;
pick out whatever thing we cannot easily have,
that we will crave and cry for all day."

Also:
"Some said, that our spirits are most soothed,
when we are flattered and spoiled.
That comes very close to the truth, I will not lie;
a man shall win us best with flattery;
and with attentions, and with thoughtful acts,
are we caught, both the strong and the weak."

And:
"Women desire to have sovereignty
over their husbands as much as over their lovers,
and to be masters of them;
that is your greatest desire..."

Finally from the Franklin's Tale:
"Love is a thing as free as any spirit;
women by nature desire liberty,
and not to be held down like slaves;
and so do men, if I speak the truth.
Observe him who is most patient in love,
he has the advantage over all others."

On the Loss of Youth, from the Prologue to the Wife of Bath's Tale:
"But Lord Christ! when I think back
upon my youth, and on my gaiety,
it tickles me to the bottom of my heart.
To this day it does my heart good
that I have had my day in my time." ( )
  gbill | Jan 5, 2010 |
Chaucer presents a group of pilgrims on their way to Canterbury to visit the shrine of Saint Thomas à Becket's at Canterbury Cathedral. To make the journey interesting they settle upon the plan that each of them should tell a tale for the amusement of the others. Eventually a vote would decide who had told the best story. By this structure, Chaucer is able to tell several otherwise unrelated stories. This could be considered the first major piece of literature in English. ( )
  AlexTheHunn | Mar 26, 2006 |
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Begun soon after 1386 and written during several years that followed, Geoffrey Chaucer's great narrative poem The Canterbury Tales presents a richly detailed, highly entertaining, and sometimes bawdy picture of English society in the fourteenth century. Rich with humorous insights into the many foibles of humanity, this poem is considered by most literary critics and scholars to be the first great example of literary art written in vernacular English. Its narrative opens as a party of 30 men and women from various walks of life gather at the Tabard Inn in London, from where they set out on a holy pilgrimage to Canterbury and its shrine dedicated to Thomas à Becket. As they travel, each person has a story to tell. The most famous and beloved of Chaucer's stories are presented in interlinear form this intensely readable volume. Alternating each of Chaucer's original lines with its translation into modern English, this book encourages readers to savor the genius of Chaucer's original poetry while following each line with an easy-to-understand modern translation of his Southeast Midlands dialect of Middle English. This scholarly yet truly approachable translation of Chaucer's original poem is the work of Vincent F. Hopper, a longtime professor of English literature at New York University. He opens with the famous Prologue-- Whan that Aprille with his shoures sote When April with his showers sweet The droghte of Marche hath perced to the rote, The drought of March has pierced to the root --and then goes on to present The Miller's Tale The Reeve's Tale The Prioress's Tale The Nun's Priest's Tale The Pardoner's Tale The Wife of Bath's Tale The Franklin's Tale . . . and more. This fine volume also includes an enlightening introductory essay on Chaucer's art, with Professor Hopper's commentary on England as it existed in the fourteenth century. He concludes with a short list of recommended reading on Chaucer's time and his art.

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