The Canterbury Tales: A retelling by Peter Ackroyd, Paperback Book

The Canterbury Tales: A retelling by Peter Ackroyd Paperback

4 out of 5 (2 ratings)


Making a major part of England's literary heritage accessible to a new audience, Peter Ackroyd's The Canterbury Tales: A Retelling renders Geoffrey Chaucer's timeless tales in lucid, compelling modern English prose, with illustrations by Nick Bantock in Penguin Classics.On a pilgrimage to Canterbury, a group of travellers agree to a storytelling competition.

As they make their way on the road, they drink, laugh, flirt, argue and try to outdo each other with their tales.

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, retold here for our times by bestselling author Peter Ackroyd.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.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.Peter Ackroyd (b. 1949) is an award-winning writer and historian. Formerly literary editor of The Spectator and chief book reviewer for the The Times, he is the author of novels such as Hawksmoor (1985) and The House of Doctor Dee (1993), as well as non-fiction including Dickens: Public Life and Private Passion (2002), London: The Biography (2000), and Thames: Sacred River (2007). 'Ackroyd's retelling is compulsive, bold and rare ... as fresh as new paint'Observer'The only version to read'Time Out


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



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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.