Thursday, January 16, 2014

A Miniature Literature Review on Canterbury Tales.

Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer!

This book is an epic poem about a diverse group of people on a pilgrimage (which, for 14th century guys, is kind of the equivalent of a vacation) to the city of Canterbury. On the way, to entertain themselves, each member has to tell two stories. The Host, when they reach Canterbury, will determine the winner and everyone else will have to buy him a meal.

The book is comprised of the stories of the various persons involved.

Since there are many types of people (merchants, nuns, monks, rich lady, lawyer, cook, physician, pardoner, etc. Even Chaucer himself is one of the pilgrims!) there are many types of stories. There were some really good stories... and there were some horrible stories that I wish I had never read. The good ones had near-perfect women who ran into hardship but persevered by trusting God. A good message, though the characters were flawless and a bit unbelievable.
The bad stories... (the Miller's Tale and the Reeve's Tale were the worst) were absolutely horrible. I was reading the Penguin Classics version which translated all the old-English poetry into modern language. Let me tell you, the Miller's Tale and Reeve's Tale were very explicit! And it wasn't like TV, that you could turn your head away. If any of you ever read Canterbury Tales, do yourself a favor and skip those two. Those two tales were the whole reason I marked it down to a four of ten stars.
The language was pretty cool... and I admire the person who made translated it all into modern English. That's a lot of poetry and rhyming! I admire Chaucer too... He came up with a whole new style of writing to write his poem in - Iambic Pentameter! Those familiar with Shakespeare probably know what Iambic Pentameter is, as Shakespeare wrote in it. Chaucer was the one who made it up.
Basically, it is a form of poetical speech that, if you read it, it will come out in a ba-dum-ba-dum-ba-dum-ba-dum-ba-dum form.
Try it out for yourself! (Shakespeare's Sonnet #12) When-I-do-count-the-clock-that-tells-the-time,
One thing I really like about Canterbury Tales was the framed narrative. A framed narrative is essentially a story inside a story... A good example is the One Hundred and One Nights/Arabian Nights... The king's wife, to stay alive, must tell stories to the king every night before he goes to bed. There's that plotline, and then there's the all the stories she tells him inside of that.
Canterbury Tales is like this too. It has the overarching plot of travelling to Canterbury (they never actually reach it... the story is unfinished. Or is it? There's lot of debate over that) and then there's all the stories that the pilgrims tell.
Another thing that I think is cool about the story is that Chaucer puts himself in as one of the pilgrims. He tries to tell a story but is shot down 'cause it's too boring, so he tells a different tale.

I rated this book a 4/10 stars. I didn't particularly enjoy it and found it a tedious read. A lot of the stories had similar plots and themes and I kind of felt like I was reading the same thing over and over again. Stick in the two explicit stories, plus some others that were just plain gross/rude, and it didn't make for an enjoyable read. At least for me. I think that if we had had time to study it in depth I would have enjoyed it more.
So, if you are ever going to read this, I would encourage doing lots of homework and deciding which tales are alright to read, and which ones you should skip over.

Live long and prosper.

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