Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Canterbury Tales


The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer. The version of The Canterbury Tales that I read was selected and translated by Theodore Morrison and the book was entitled The Portable Chaucer. This book also had other poems by Chaucer, including the story of Troilus and Cressida. I had posted on July 9, a synopsis of another book that I read on Geoffrey Chaucer entitled The Life and Times of Chaucer by John Gardner. This book gave a biography of Chaucer's life. I will now post on The Canterbury Tales themselves. The Canterbury Tales was written in the late 1300's, the story is about 29 travelers on a journey in the spring time to Canterbury. Each is to tell stories or tales while they are traveling and the best wins. The tales are of various kinds; some are moral tales, some tales are of marriage, love, most have humor and irony, some are saucy. Some of Chaucer's tales are un-finished, some hard to understand. Chaucer's Canterbury Tales have been labeled sometimes as bawdy, vulgar, and obscene. But to revise them would be to take away from the stories, especially to take away the satire in them. Chaucer's word for the sex act is "swyven, it is used openly, freely, and naturally. It is more comparable to such a phrase as blow your nose. It simply denotes a physical act, and if the context calls for it, the word appears, with no attached sense of guilt or shock." The word lewd in his day meant ignorant and uneducated, whereas lewd means obscene in our modern world. Interesting that humanity has made sex such a taboo word. I stated before in my previous post Chaucer wrote as a "way to see people more clearly." He wrote in the way that common people talked and lived. One of my favorite tales is The Nun's Priests Tale, of all things it is the story of a rooster named Chanticleer. Good ole Chanticleer had dreams that predicted the future, this tale is a moral story of watching your pride and indiscreet talk.
"The man ungoverned, rash , and indiscreet
Who babble when to hold his tongue were needful!
Such is it to be reckless and unheedful
And trust in flattery. But you who hold
That this is a mere trifle I have told,
Concerning only a fox, or a cock, and hen,
Think twice, and take the moral, my good men!"
Another favorite tale of mine is The Wife of Bath's Tale. This tale is very funny, I laughed several times out loud. This Wife of Bath had said in her prologue that she had been married 5 times and enjoyed sex often. The Wife of Bath's tale is the story of a knight that is in trouble for taking a maiden by force, Arthur gave the knight over to his queen to decide the fate of the knight. The queen asked him "if you can answer me this question, what is the thing that most of all women desire? Think, or your neck will fall under the ax!" He is given 12 months and a day where he researches the answer to this question. His answer was, "women desire to have the sovereignty and sit in rule and government above their husbands, and to have their way in love." Too funny! Especially because it is all to true. But to do this takes much charm and talent!
I think that I could read The Canterbury Tales several times and each time pick up on things that I missed before, I have thoroughly enjoyed reading Chaucer's tales.
I started reading last night Love's Labour's Lost a comedy by William Shakespeare, I also have Hamlet, Macbeth, and The Year In The Life Of William Shakespeare 1599, to read.

2 comments:

Jim Bohannon (aka Maché Artist) said...

Miss Daisy,

Thanks for stopping by to take a look at my blog. You're welcome anytime! I love the look of your blog, as well as the content, and have added it to my "Most Frequently Visited Sites" folder of my bookmarks. I've been looking for my volume of Chaucer in the original old English, and it's driving me nuts that I can't find it (but it's around here somewhere, I'm sure). Now the bug has bitten again, and I really want to find it!
~ Jim

Ms. Place said...

Miss Daisy,

I have added you to my blog roll in Parallel sites of interest, though I might switch you to Literati.

Thank you for stopping by. Love your comments and your blog.