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The Canterbury Tales in Modern Verse

The Canterbury Tales in Modern Verse

Geoffrey Chaucer
Translated and Edited, with Introduction, by Joseph Glaser

2005 - 360 pp.

Format ISBN Price Qty
Cloth (no dust jacket) 978-0-87220-755-4
$39.00
Paper 978-0-87220-754-7
$11.00
Examination 978-0-87220-754-7
$3.00

Quick Overview

"This version of The Canterbury Tales is indeed 'fast-paced and entertaining'.  It includes translations of most of the tales (certainly all of the most popular ones) and abridgments and summaries of a few others.  Glaser's main innovation in this translation is a rather striking decision to render Chaucer's standard iambic pentameter line in iambic tetrameter. . . . Those who read his translation of The Canterbury Tales will likely be motivated to tackle a linguistically more challenging, yet more rewarding Middle English edition.  Those who lack the time for such a task will still be able to appreciate the humor and variety of one of Chaucer's greatest works and will, through the basic and clear Introduction, get a sense of the historical and literary background of Chaucer, his times, and his works.  The near conversational tone of the Introduction, furthermore, makes for an unintimidating encounter with a period of literature that, for many, is foreign and remote.  As a kind of gateway text, therefore, Glaser's new translation of The Canterbury Tales will be much appreciated and valued by a non-specialist audience."
     —Jennifer A. Smith, Comitatus

OR

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Now, gentle reader, I implore you,
When I put his tale before you,
Don't think me lecherous or shameless.
Most of my stories are quite blameless,
But I must tell the bad ones too,
Or shirk what I set out to do.
Turn the page and choose another;
My tamer tales would suit your mother.
They praise good morals and embody
The opposite of all things bawdy.
     —from the Prologue to "The Miller's Tale"

-------------------------------------------------

Readers of this witty and fluent new translation of The Canterbury Tales should find themselves turning page after page: by recasting Chaucer's ten-syllable couplets into eight-syllable lines, Joseph Glaser achieves a lighter, more rapid cadence than other translators, a four-beat rhythm well-established in the English poetic tradition up to Chaucer's time.  Glaser's shortened lines make compelling reading and mirror the elegance and variety of Chaucer's verse to a degree rarely met by translations that copy Chaucer beat for beat.  Moreover, this translation's full, Chaucerian range of diction—from earthy to Latinate—conveys the great scope of Chaucer's interests and effects.

The selection features complete translations of the majority of the stories, including all of the more familiar tales and narrative links along with abridgments or summaries of the others.  To reflect Chaucer's interest in poetic technique, Glaser presents the tales written in non-couplet stanzas in their original forms.

An Introduction, marginal glosses, bibliography, and notes are also included.

 

Reviews:

"This version of The Canterbury Tales is indeed 'fast-paced and entertaining'.  It includes translations of most of the tales (certainly all of the most popular ones) and abridgments and summaries of a few others.  Glaser's main innovation in this translation is a rather striking decision to render Chaucer's standard iambic pentameter line in iambic tetrameter. . . . Those who read his translation of The Canterbury Tales will likely be motivated to tackle a linguistically more challenging, yet more rewarding Middle English edition.  Those who lack the time for such a task will still be able to appreciate the humor and variety of one of Chaucer's greatest works and will, through the basic and clear Introduction, get a sense of the historical and literary background of Chaucer, his times, and his works.  The near conversational tone of the Introduction, furthermore, makes for an unintimidating encounter with a period of literature that, for many, is foreign and remote.  As a kind of gateway text, therefore, Glaser's new translation of The Canterbury Tales will be much appreciated and valued by a non-specialist audience."
     —Jennifer A. Smith, Comitatus

 

About the Author:

Joseph Glaser is Professor of English, Western Kentucky University.  His most recent books are Understanding Style: Practical Ways to Improve Your Writing (Oxford University Press, 2000) and a modern retelling of Le Morte D'Arthur (Pegasus Press, 2005).