The Canterbury Tales

Cover of the book, The Canterbury Tales.

Written by:

Translated by: Nevill Coghill

Published by: Penguin Classics

★★★★★
★★★★★

3.49, based on 175,815 reviews.

Goodreads says:

The procession that crosses Chaucer's pages is as full of life and as richly textured as a medieval tapestry. The Knight, the Miller, the Friar, the Squire, the Prioress, the Wife of Bath, and others who make up the cast of characters -- including Chaucer himself -- are real people, with human emotions and weaknesses. When it is remembered that Chaucer wrote in English at a time when Latin was the standard literary language across western Europe, the magnitude of his achievement is even more remarkable. But Chaucer's genius needs no historical introduction; it bursts forth from every page of The Canterbury Tales.

If we trust the General Prologue, Chaucer intended that each pilgrim should tell two tales on the way to Canterbury and two tales on the way back. He never finished his enormous project and even the completed tales were not finally revised. Scholars are uncertain about the order of the tales. As the printing press had yet to be invented when Chaucer wrote his works, The Canterbury Tales has been passed down in several handwritten manuscripts.

Waterstones says:

Inspired by Boccaccio's Decameron, and framed as a storytelling competition between a group of pilgrims, Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales is one of the greatest works of English literature, translated from the Middle English with an introduction by Nevill Coghill in Penguin Classics.In The Canterbury Tales Chaucer created one of the great touchstones of English literature, a masterly collection of chivalric romances, moral allegories and low farce. A story-telling competition between a group of pilgrims from all walks of life is the occasion for a series of tales that range from the Knight's account of courtly love and the ebullient Wife of Bath's Arthurian legend, to the ribald anecdotes of the Miller and the Cook. Rich and diverse, The Canterbury Tales offers us an unrivalled glimpse into the life and mind of Medieval England.Nevill Coghill's masterly and vivid English verse translation is rendered with consummate skill to retain all the vigour and poetry of Chaucer's fourteenth-century Middle English.Geoffrey Chaucer (c.1343-1400) was an English author, poet, philosopher, courtier and diplomat, best known as the author of The Canterbury Tales. Chaucer is credited as being the first author to demonstrate the artistic legitimacy of the vernacular English language. The first poet to have been buried in the Poet's Corner of Westminster Abbey, his other works include The House of Fame, Troilus and Criseyde and The Book of the Duchess.If you enjoyed The Canterbury Tales, you might like Boccaccio's Decameron, also available in Penguin Classics.'Nevill Coghill's easy, seductive translation ensures that this, the most popular work in English Literature - now 600 years old - will run through yet more centuries, delighting yet more readers, shaping more writers'Melvyn Bragg


Rating breakdown

★★★★★
★★★★★
3.49 out of 5 stars (175,815 ratings)
5 20% (34,352 ratings)
4 31% (54,360 ratings)
3 33% (58,181 ratings)
2 12% (21,371 ratings)
1 4% (7,551 ratings)

About Geoffrey Chaucer

Geoffrey Chaucer (c. 1343 – October 25, 1400?) was an English author, poet, philosopher, bureaucrat, courtier and diplomat. Although he wrote many works, he is best remembered for his unfinished frame narrative The Canterbury Tales. Sometimes called the father of English literature, Chaucer is credited by some scholars as being the first author to demonstrate the artistic legitimacy of the vernacular English language, rather than French or Latin.

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