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Publisher's Summary

At the Tabard Inn, 30 travelers of widely varying classes and occupations are gathering to make the annual pilgrimage to Becket's shrine at Canterbury. It is agreed that each traveler will tell four tales to help pass the time and that the host of the inn will judge the tales and reward the best storyteller with a free supper upon their return.

Thus we hear, translated into modern English, 20-some tales, told in the voices of knight and merchant, wife and miller, squire and nun, and many more. Some are bawdy, some spiritual, some romantic, some mysterious, some chivalrous. Between the stories, the travelers converse, joke, and argue, revealing much about their individual outlooks on life, as well as what life was like in late 14th-century England.

©2003 Gavin Menzies (P)2008 Blackstone Audio

What listeners say about The Canterbury Tales [Blackstone]

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Tad Davis
  • 2008-10-20

Many voices, at times enthralling

This new Blackstone recording of "Canterbury Tales" is wonderful and at times enthralling -- and also at times laugh-out-loud funny. Like the Charlton Griffin recording (also available here), it's the whole ball of wax: every tale, including the often-omitted Tale of Melibee and the Parson's Tale (which is really a three-hour sermon rather than a tale. Listen to it. It's good for the digestion, and quite a bit more interesting than it sounds). This translation, by J.U. Nicholson, uses a more old-fashioned vocabulary in places than the Coghill translation used by Griffin; but at the same time, it's also saltier. There are few crude names for parts or functions of the human body that Chaucer fails to use at one point or another, and most of them find their way into this recording. (For me, that's a GOOD thing!) One notable feature is that this is a multi-voice recording. Martin Jarvis is Chaucer, Ralph Cosham the Lawyer, Simon Vance the Squire; and that's only a few examples. Both this version and Griffin's version are five-star recordings in my book. Griffin's has occasional music, which this one lacks; on the other hand, this one has greater variety of tone and voice.

173 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Ruth Green
  • 2009-03-06

A helpful index

I love this audio version of the Tales, but without an index it can be frustrating to locate a particular tale. I'm a teacher, and like to have students listen to excerpts. I didn't complete the times for all of the tales, but hopefully what I provide here will save another teacher a lot of time.
Canterbury Tales Bookmarks on Audible edition

Part I
General Prologue, Part I to 46:20

Knight's Tale, Part I 46:25-- 2:51:52

Miller's Tale, Part I 2:52:03-- 3:30

Reeve's Tale, 3:30-- 3:55

Cook's Tale, 3:55-- 4:06

Lawyer's Tale, 4:06-- 4:57

Sailor's Tale, 4:57-- 5:23

Prioress' Tale, 5:23-- 5:39

Sir Thopas, 5:39-- 5:50

Melibee, 5:50-- 7:49

Part II

Monk, 00-- 48.56

Nun's Priest, 49:00-- 1:25:46
Epilogue 1:25:46 - 1:26.41

Physician, 1:26-- 1:42:13

Words of Host to Physician and Pardoner, 1:42:23-- 1:45

Pardoner, 1:45-- 2:18

Wife of Bath, 2:18-- 3:32:54

Friar 3:32:56 --

Summoner

Clerk

Merchant





Part III

Squire, 00-- 32:21 (unfinished)

Host to Squire and Franklin, 32:22-- 34:15

Franklin, 34:15-- 1:18:33

Second Nun's Tale, 1:18:33

Canon's Yeoman

Manciple

Parson

Here the Maker, 6:19-- 6:21:50

318 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Dawn
  • 2009-03-11

Perfect for grad students

I purchased this audiobook to listen to as I read the Tales in Middle English for a graduate level seminar in Chaucer. Listening to this translation brought a deeper level of understanding to my studies. The translators' voices and tones fit perfectly with the tales they related. I enjoyed this experience immensely, and would recommend it to any student of Medieval Literature.

51 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Marco
  • 2009-03-25

Great all around!

I thought the people reading these stories were fantastic! They were clear, emotive, and clearly had a strong grasp of what they were reading. Sometimes I had trouble navigating through the tales to find the one that I wanted, but that's just a minor inconvenience.

21 people found this helpful

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  • Jefferson
  • 2010-06-14

A Perfect Canterbury Tales from Many Voices

The fourteen readers of The Canterbury Tales are excellent in changing their inflection, tone, and register to suit whatever is happening in their tales. Thus the ribald tales and insulting exchanges between pilgrims are funny, the tragic tales moving, and the virtuous tales uplifting. Nicholson's translation into modern English seems accurate enough; he maintains much of Chaucer's language and rhymes. At the same time, it is easy to follow the tales because of the fine readers, the clear translation, and Chaucer's natural storytelling.

The tales and their prologues and epilogues (in which the pilgrims comment on the tales and each other) are fascinating and enjoyable and depict the full range of human folly (sanctimonious con men friars, corrupt judges, cuckolded husbands, lickerish wives, drunken cooks, and crooked millers) and goodness (noble courtly lovers, wise wives, faithful husbands, self-sacrificing virgins, and pure saints). The variety of tales is also impressive: beast fables, ribald jokes, sermons, parables, romances, and so on. They give a priceless glimpse into various Medieval English occupations, lifestyles, and philosophies.

In short, if you're interested in Chaucer's tales, the Middle Ages, fine readings of good poetry, and life, or if you're studying the original Middle English version, I recommend this audiobook.

35 people found this helpful

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 2011-10-12

This audio is worth the listen

I once owned the Canterbury Tales but I gave it to my local library when I moved, I really liked Canterbury but I did not have the time to reread them, Audio Books makes it possible for me to enjoy this collection again. Thirty travelers, from many walks of life, on a pilgrimage to the shrine at Canterbury are invited by the Tabard Inn keeper to tell stories that he will judge in exchange for a free meal when the winner returns. The travelers tell their stories covering many topics which are narrated by Martin Jarvis and Jay Carnes both doing justice to Geoffrey Chaucer works. This version of Canterbury is worth hearing and one I will come back to in the future, it is a keeper.

12 people found this helpful

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  • Natalia
  • 2012-08-07

Best way to "read" Chaucer!

If you could sum up The Canterbury Tales in three words, what would they be?

Moral, Eternal, Bawdy

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Realizing that the common theme was that you eventually get what you deserve.

Any additional comments?

Having these classic tales told by the excellent narrators gave them life and made them understandable and enjoyable. It really beat reading them in school!

9 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Stephan Chandler
  • 2009-01-25

Marvelous, marvelous!

ALWAYS compelling. The verse is a joy to hear. In addition, Chaucer's crude, vulgar passages are uproarious! I WILL admit, however, that the Parson's tale, tho interesting, is a pain-in-the-ass to listen to (and I'm sure his fellow pilgrims probably agreed!). Overall, quite a treat!

18 people found this helpful

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  • James B. Rich
  • 2012-08-07

Epitome of what an audio book should be!

A Middle-English classic in the tradition of the Decameron, a series of storied told by a wide cross-section of 15th century English men & women. Terrific story telling, wonderful reading and a translation that maintains the rhythms and syntax of the original. Listening to the readers I found it simple to follow the original Middle English.

8 people found this helpful

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  • CAFOXXYY
  • 2013-03-27

More Wonderful Than I Remembered

Would you consider the audio edition of The Canterbury Tales to be better than the print version?

Yes. I enjoyed the performances by the narrators, the wonderful stories, and the amazing rhyming ability of the author. They make this a memorable event.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Canterbury Tales?

I loved and enjoyed each and every one of the stories.

What does the narrators bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

The narrators actually bring these stories to life with their wonderful voices and reading abilities.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

Tales you will never forget.

4 people found this helpful