The Canterbury Tales, Paperback
4 out of 5 (2 ratings)


"The Canterbury Tales" is a major part of England's literary heritage.

From the exuberant Wife of Bath's Arthurian legend to the Miller's worldly, ribald farce, these tales can be taken as a mirror of fourteenth-century London.

Incorporating every style of medieval narrative - bawdy anecdote, allegorical fable and courtly romance - the tales encompass a blend of universal human themes.

Ackroyd's retelling is a highly readable, prose version in modern English, using expletive and avoiding euphemism, making the Tales much more accessible to a new generation of readers.

The edition also includes an introduction by Ackroyd, detailing some of the historical background to Chaucer and the Tales, and why he has been inspired to translate them for a new generation of readers.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 464 pages, Illustrations
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Classic fiction (pre c 1945)
  • ISBN: 9780141442297



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Showing 1 - 2 of 2 reviews.

Review by

Ackroyd has "translated" Canterbury Tales into modern English and made it readily accessible. I have tried to read CT in the past, the original text is beyond me, and even the examples of side-by-side text haven't really made it possible for me to read cover to cover.The text is good, lively without being too anachronistic. The story is relatively timeless - in spite of the setting of a pilgrimage - the characters come though as analogs of people we could meet any day. Read June 2012

Review by

To rewrite Chaucer in today's idiom invites disdain from the purists, but for one such as me, whose education omitted both this vital classic, and the linguistic tools that would have given me access to the original, Ackroyd has here done much to fill the gap that I have always known. Of course I cannot more than guess at what might have been left out, but I found the version highly illuminating, and even rather curious concerning the ways in which the modern idiom might have refreshed the original. No doubt those who are better educated, and privileged with the ability to hear clearly the master's intentions might find faults, because Ackroyd's viewpoint must needs be idiosyncratic. But I learned much, and not just from Ackroyd's sweet and stimulating prose. I feel I now have an inkling of why Chaucer's work was so important.