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Canterbury Tales - Volume I, The
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Canterbury Tales - Volume I, The

Author : Geoffrey Chaucer
Performed By : Full Cast Production
Publisher : NAXOS
Runtime : 3 hours 20 minutes
Type : Poetry
Classic Literature
Dramatizations
Classics
Short Stories
Our Price : $14.99
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The Prologue
The Knight's Tale
The Miller's Tale
The Pardoner's Tale
The Merchant's Tale
The Franklin's Tale

Chaucer's greatest work, written towards the end of the fourteenth century, paints a brilliant picture of medieval life, society and values. The stories range from the romantic, courtly idealism of The Knight's Tale to the joyous bawdy of The Miller's; all are told with a freshness and vigour in this modern verse translation that make them a delight to hear.

The Canterbury Tales, written near the end of Chaucer's life and hence towards the close of the fourteenth century, Is perhaps the greatest English literary work of the Middle Ages: yet it speaks to us today with almost undimmed clarity and relevance.

Chaucer imagines a group of twenty-nine pilgrims who meet in the Tabard Inn in Southwark, intent on making the traditional journey to the martyr's shrine of St Thomas a Becket in Canterbury. Harry Bailly landlord of the Tabard, proposes that the company should entertain themselves on the road with a storytelling competition. The teller of the best tale will be rewarded with a supper at the others' expense when the travellers return to London. Chaucer never completed this elaborate scheme - each pilgrim was supposed to tell four tales, but in fact we only have twenty-four altogether - yet, with the pieces of linking narrative and the prologues to each tale, the work as a whole constitutes a marvellously varied evocation of the medieval world which also goes beyond its period to penetrate (humorously, gravely tolerantly) human nature itself.

Chaucer, as a member of this company of pilgrims, presents himself with mock innocence as the admiring observer of his fellows, depicted in the General Prologue. Many of these are clearly rogues - the coarse, cheating Miller, the repulsive yet compelling Pardoner - yet in each of them Chaucer finds something human, often a sheer vitality or love of life which is irresistible: the Monk may prefer hunting to prayer, but he is after all a manly man, to be an abbot able. Perhaps only the unassuming, devoted Parson and his humbly labouring brother the Ploughman rise entirely above Chaucer's teasing irony; certainly the Parson's fellow clergy and religious officers belong to a Church riddled with gross corruption. Everyone, it seems, is on the make, in a world still recovering from the ravages of the Black Death.

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