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Canterbury Tales - Volume II, The
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Canterbury Tales - Volume II, The

Author : Geoffrey Chaucer
Performed By : Full Cast Production
Publisher : NAXOS
Runtime : 3 hours 30 minutes
Type : Poetry
Classic Literature
Short Stories
Our Price : $14.99
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The Wife of Bath's Tale
The Clerk's Tale
The Reeve's Tale
The Nun's Priest's Tale

Four more delightful tales from one of the most entertaining storytellers of all time. Though writing in the 14th century, Chaucer's wit and observation comes down undiminished through the ages, especially in this accessible modern verse translation. The stories vary considerably: the uproarious Wife of Bath's Tale, promoting the power of women; the sober account of patient Griselda in the Clerk's Tale; the ribald Reeve's Tale and the diverting tale of Chanticleer told by the Nun's Priest.

The group continues its pilgrimage to Canterbury, talking with each other, their interaction mediated (sometimes) by the affable Host - Chaucer himself.

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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