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3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (163,148 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Geoffrey Chaucer Narrator: Ric Jerrom, Cameron Stewart, Bill Wallace, Kim Hicks, Mark Meadows, Maggie Ollerenshaw Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: November 2008 ISBN: 9781482978131
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Beyond its importance as a literary work of unvarnished genius, Geoffrey Chaucer’s unfinished epic poem is also one of the most beloved works in the English language—and for good reason: it is lively, absorbing, perceptive, and outrageously funny. But despite the brilliance of Chaucer’s work, the continual evolution of our language has rendered his words unfamiliar to many of us. Esteemed poet, translator, and scholar Burton Raffel’s magnificent new unabridged translation brings Chaucer’s poetry back to life, ensuring that none of the original’s wit, wisdom, or humanity is lost to the modern reader. This edition also features an introduction by the widely influential medievalist and author John Miles Foley that discusses Chaucer’s work as well as his life and times.

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Quotes & Awards

  • The Canterbury Tales has remained popular for seven centuries. It is the most approachable masterpiece of the medieval world, and Mr. Raffel’s translation makes the stories even more inviting.”

    Wall Street Journal

  • “Masterly…This new translation beckons us to make our own pilgrimage back to the very wellsprings of literature in our language.”

    Billy Collins, former US Poet Laureate

  • “Chaucer’s blend of humour, realism, philosophical depth, poetic virtuosity, and masterful control of dialogue and character was never matched…As a storyteller, he is supreme.”

    Cambridge Guide to Literature in English

  • “Chaucer’s genius is such that the tales reveal the personalities of their tellers…the pilgrims grow as distinct personalities as they converse and argue between stories.”

    Frank N. Magill, editor, Masterpieces of World Literature

  • “A delight…[Raffel’s translation] provides more opportunities to savor the counterpoint of Chaucer’s earthy humor against passages of piercingly beautiful lyric poetry.”

    Kirkus Reviews

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jas | 2/18/2014

    " This is a very good translation, preserving the basic form of the original as well as its spirit. I first read parts of it in the 1970s. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Tracy | 2/18/2014

    " This is one of my absolute favorites. I love reading it in the original english too. It is a must read book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Alan | 2/16/2014

    " Haven't read all, but what I've read was a riot "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Denise | 2/16/2014

    " Read parts of this for a college English class many years ago. Funny stories that you wouldn't expect from something this old. Even a few risque parts for the times. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Alex | 2/13/2014

    " I suppose this is my own Ulysses. Canterbury Tales is certainly one of those books, like Ulysses or Proust or Golden Bowl, that no one's actually read or if they have they hated it or if they didn't they're lying because they think it'll impress you. But I took a whole class on this in college and I had this terrific professor, and she showed me how awesome this is. Really, it's a heap of fun. Are you impressed? "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jeffrey | 2/13/2014

    " I have to say that the cultural barriers between Chaucer's audience and the modern reader are what most kept me from enjoying sections of this book which just come off as tedious when they probably were very interesting when first introduced. However, Chaucer's genius, wit, and knack for social commentary continue to stand out in the Canterbury Tales. It's one of the only books I've read recently that has frequently made me laugh out loud. Undeniably a masterpiece, just has some very dry spots. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kristopher | 2/9/2014

    " Really only read about half the stories... mostly stories I've already read in other classes. Someday, I really have to dig in and read the rest of them. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Laura Dumuhosky | 2/9/2014

    " This is one of the few books I really, thoroughly enjoyed in college for required reading. It's definitely a challenge, but worth getting through all the Middle English. It makes reading Shakespeare almost easy, though. So, be prepared- it is not for the faint of heart. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Brad | 1/31/2014

    " Overall, good. Fun, playful. A bit bawdy at times, but a fun and authentic view of another time. Some cool universal themes and some good interplay between characters and stories. I don't know that it will be on my "read again" list, but I don't regret having spent the time on it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Paul Bulger | 1/30/2014

    " Very humorous classic compilation of short stories that hasn't worn through the ages and is still good fun. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Aleesha Bass | 1/28/2014

    " Surprisingly, I like Chaucer (as long as he's translated). I never thought I would. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Gmazade11 | 1/24/2014

    " Ask me to recite the general prologue! Amazing piece of writing! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 ~☆ Alice☆~ | 1/23/2014

    " Had to read this in high school. Fortunately we read it in class as I hardly understood one word of it. It was very entertaining (what little I got). "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Deb8coach Adams | 1/23/2014

    " Wow, I missed out on SO much of this when asked to read it in High School. These stories are masterfully crafted. Filled with double entendre, and bawdy humor. Don't cheat yourself out of the full experience by reading a translation that has been cleansed for the general masses, enjoy it as it was written. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Krista | 1/19/2014

    " I hated this book. I only remember having to memorize the prologue in Olde English. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Pollyanna | 1/18/2014

    " I tried to read this but I found I was just reading the words without even taking them in. I don't think this is for me. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Chris Gager | 1/17/2014

    " I'm a bit confused. Did I read this in updated English in prep school or did I read it only in Yale English Poetry class in Olde Englishe? Oh well, can't remember everything. Date read is a guess. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jed Singer | 1/8/2014

    " Amazing work, but put me to sleep. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jenafer | 1/8/2014

    " Wife of Bath = Best one "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sam Farkas | 12/19/2013

    " Admittedly, I haven't read all the tales, but I've read the Pardoner's, Miller's, Wife of Bath's, Franklin's, Nun's Priests, and Merchant's. I'm not usually one for medieval literature, but I love these characters and their stories. The Pardoner's Tale is definitely my favorite. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tricia | 12/12/2013

    " I read this with my kids. I was afraid it would be incredibly dull, but I was pleasantly surprised. These were funny and witty. My kids were begging me to read more and I couldn't believe how much we all laughed. I am glad we gave it a chance. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tricia | 12/8/2013

    " I read this with my kids. I was afraid it would be incredibly dull, but I was pleasantly surprised. These were funny and witty. My kids were begging me to read more and I couldn't believe how much we all laughed. I am glad we gave it a chance. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lemar | 11/29/2013

    " Scenery changes, people remain the same. Classic tale, best heard in the original Old English, can't understand it but it sounds so cool. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Dexter/Persy | 11/25/2013

    " The whole idea of the Canterbury Tales is very cool, and I certainly enjoy reading the different stories and poetry, but I find that I don't actually -like- most of the stories. They all follow a distinct pattern and are either crude and tragic or just plain tragic. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mischke | 11/20/2013

    " read at St. John's College "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 George Mcneese | 9/30/2013

    " One of the best ever. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Katy Bennett | 8/13/2013

    " Interesting to see how themes in fiction have been around for at least 600 years. Heavy on the moral bashing. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Liza | 7/26/2013

    " I enjoyed reading "The Tales" so much in high school that I took an entire course on Chaucer in college. I enjoyed his humor and every character is memorable. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 John Parr | 6/27/2013

    " If this is your first foray into Old English(the language, not the cologne), I suggest getting a side-by-side version with modern translation. Once you get used to the Old English, however, the stories are very engaging. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Spazdeus | 5/15/2013

    " I loved the stories. I read this after I went to Canterbury England and saw the stories played out by moving wooden cutouts of the characters and scenes. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Arianna | 3/14/2013

    " Takes a while to get used to the old English, but when you do, you realize it was worth the effort. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 AishWarya | 2/24/2013

    " It made me laugh in some ways more than none how utterly useless these characters are put together. It's as if they exist to speak small, insignificant words of a greater thought or idea. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jade Silver | 1/21/2013

    " Chaucer is the innovative satirist that his modern english/mid english age needed. His work not only had humor but an insight to the world he lived in. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Brian Wilson | 12/28/2012

    " I am astonished by the wit, humour, wisdom, technical beauty and perpetual resonance of a work written around 650 years ago! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Becca | 11/28/2012

    " One of the best pieces of medieval literature I've ever read. Once you understand the language, you see how hilarious Chaucer is and how he pokes fun at everyone. A must read! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jody Mena | 10/7/2012

    " Fascinating set of stories! It's like a rundown for medieval life and times! I really enjoyed reading this! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Aileen | 9/30/2012

    " We read this for AP English and it was mostly fun to get the culture and time period from it. The characters were intentionally vile. It was interesting "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Adam Christopher | 9/15/2012

    " Easily deserving of the title 'Classic'. This book requires numerious readings to get the most out of it. It is humerious while highlighing issues of race and class. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Keila Lopez | 8/14/2012

    " I think that the most interesting part of it might have been how exagerated these characters were but at the same time, they were hypocrites. It made it seem very real to me, the world of Chaucer and I commend him for that! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Candy Tiley | 7/19/2012

    " I read a lot of this book but it takes awhile to savor and enjoy each story. It is a very fun and interesting collection of stories depicting all kinds of personalities from the time period in which it is based. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lynn | 7/18/2012

    " one of the first great pieces of literature I ever read, I was 11 or 12 years old and I will remember the story forever as well as the old red dusty cover. I loved it so much I never returned it to the school library. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 kellyjane1212 | 4/20/2012

    " I love Chaucer's liveliness, humor, and ability to create characters. And surprisingly I really love the language (I'm not sure what to call it, maybe Middle English?). He brings 14th-Century England to life for me, which seems a remarkable achievement for which I feel grateful. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Terra | 1/20/2012

    " I read it for school, and while it wasn't terrible, I'm glad I'm done with it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kaitlin Bevis | 1/16/2012

    " Surprisingly lewd. Somehow I managed to miss how pervy Chaucer was in high school. These tales are hysterical. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Monte | 12/11/2011

    " much easier to read...incredible stories "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Christine | 10/9/2011

    " I still have the first thirteen lines memorized. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Bridget | 7/22/2011

    " I read this in English class and really enjoyed the characters and each of their stories as well as the representation of medieval characters. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Irene | 6/25/2011

    " Didn't actually read the whole thing, only select stories for my English class. Perhaps I'll go back and read the rest of the stories. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Marc Fontaine | 6/3/2011

    " OK so the Miller's tale is hilarious! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Alford | 5/22/2011

    " An excellent, telling, comical classic. I remember in my Western Literature class the professor teared up as she read Chaucer's Retraction. The experience was moving and was one factor that me down the path of the metaphor with a much greater appreciation for literature. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Carly | 5/16/2011

    " Geoffrey Chaucer was a social genius. He loved awkward moments. He made dirty jokes. He knew what women wanted. He was funny before being funny was a thing. Love it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Phil | 4/28/2011

    " British Literature Junior year of HS "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kim | 4/25/2011

    " One of my favorites, that was until I found out that it was never finished. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Rayna | 4/22/2011

    " Interesting concept but hard to get through, especially if you read the original version as the language can be difficult to understand. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Gretchen | 4/21/2011

    " Read at Richard Henry's request. Wasn't all that impressed. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Autumn | 4/18/2011

    " Jumped around it for class. I actually really enjoyed it. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Daniel | 4/12/2011

    " I treat this more as prose than poetry. I WANT to like it. However, I wish I could get past the lumpy writing style...and most of the translations don't seem to do it any favours. A monumental work of early fiction...but an unloved one on my shelf.
    "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Matthew | 4/12/2011

    " one of the first books written in English (well, kind of English, hahaha). Some stories are funny, some are sad, some touching- but all are interesting. Especially the Nun's Tale. Goddamn what a crazy lady she is. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Phil | 4/9/2011

    " I liked the Miller's tale the best. It had the most fart jokes. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jade | 4/4/2011

    " Chaucer is the innovative satirist that his modern english/mid english age needed. His work not only had humor but an insight to the world he lived in. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Aoide | 4/2/2011

    " I will always maintain that Chaucer was the original MC. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Flora | 4/2/2011

    " Thanks to my favorite high school English teacher, Mr. S., I love these characters and stories, as well as the language of Chaucer. He entertains on every page. "Whan that aprill with his shoures soote..." "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ctroskoph | 3/28/2011

    " The Miller's Tale is one of the funniest pieces of literature I have ever read; it makes me laugh out loud every time I read it. The Wife of Bath is one of my all time favorite characters. "

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About the Author
Author Geoffrey Chaucer

Geoffrey Chaucer (c. 1343–1400), English poet, was the son of a London vintner. He was married and held a number of positions at court and in the king’s service, including diplomat, controller of customs in the port of London, and deputy forester in the King’s Forest in Somerset. He was buried in the Poets’ Corner of Westminster Abbey where a monument was erected to him in 1555.

About the Narrators

Ric Jerrom is an actor, writer, and—occasionally—director. He has also narrated audiobooks in genres from classics to romantic fiction to mystery and suspense, winning three AudioFile Earphones Awards and placing as a finalist for the prestigious Audie Award. He has written plays, film scripts, short stories, poetry, and journalism. He has performed in many radio plays, sundry theaters, and internationally for the Natural Theatre Company of Bath.

Cameron Stewart has toured in My Grandfather’s Great War, which was nominated for Best Solo Show by the Stage. He has appeared on television in The Turn of the Screw, All Saints, The Inbetweeners, Home and Away, Fallen Angel, Coronation Street, and Young Lions.

Bill Wallace has recorded hundreds of books for the National Library Service’s Talking Books Program for the blind and physically handicapped under the auspices of the Library of Congress. He won the Alexander Scourby Narrator of the Year Award for Nonfiction in 2001 and the Canadian Torgi Talking Book of the Year Award in 1996 and again in 2003. He was nominated for an Audie® Award in 1998.

Kim Hicks has developed and performed in several critically acclaimed one-woman shows which have toured numerous venues throughout the country. She has read poems and short stories for Radio 4, while her theater work includes Viola in Twelfth Night, Nora in A Doll’s House, and the Midwife in The Choice. Her film appearances include Leon the Pig Farmer.

Mark Meadows is an actor and audiobook narrator. He can be heard on the radio broadcasts of Lost Souls and The Worst Journey in the World, both first aired for BBC Radio. On television, he has appeared as Reverend Wallace in EastEnders. He also has extensive credits as a composer and arranger.

Maggie Ollerenshaw’s theater work is extensive, ranging from several Alan Ayckbourn roles, to Martha in Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Similarly, her many television credits cover Open All Hours and The House of Eliott, to a BAFTA nomination for her performance in Last of the Summer Wine. She has written for radio and has written and performed a one-woman musical play about Vera Lynn titled Yours Sincerely.