Canterbury Tales, Hardback Book
4.5 out of 5 (1 rating)


These tales bring together a band of pilgrims who represented most of the occupations and social groups of the time.

The diversity of the narrators in turn made possible a varied collection of tales including chivalric romance, spiritual allegory, courtly lay, beast fable and literary satire.


  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 616 pages
  • Publisher: Everyman
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Poetry by individual poets
  • ISBN: 9781857150742

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The importance of the Canterbury Tales in the history of English literature and the English language goes without saying. It is also a lot of fun to read, even in the original Middle English.The Everyman's Library edition presents the full text as Chaucer wrote it, but with definitions in the margins for words whose meaning isn't obvious. There are also footnotes for those cases where a word or two of explanation won't suffice. At first it was slow going, but after awhile I was able to forgo many of the definitions. Reading aloud also helps, for Chaucer's spelling--which is by no means consistent throughout the book--is largely phonetic.The stories themselves range from bawdy adventures to religious sermons. Some of them will sound familiar, as they are taken from Greek myths and will appear again in the works of Shakespeare and others. Most are humorous, and Chaucer's talent as a poet begins to come across once you become somewhat comfortable with the language. The framing story is noteworthy as well. The pilgrims are a cross-section of medieval society. The tales they choose to tell, and the way they tell them, reflect their lives, their education, their interests, and their prejudices. To read their tales is to be immersed in the life of the middle ages.