Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Road to Canterbury

If, like me, you like literature and English is your primary language, you probably have this occasional nagging sense that you ought to read Canterbury Tales. But - again, if you're like me - you probably haven't. Well good news! There's no need. You can just go and check out NPR's interactive map of the journey about which Chaucer's work was written.

The map is connected to a series of stories NPR is doing on modern England, and the sorts of changes that have happened there since Chaucer's time. From NPR:
Chaucer's stories, published in the late 14th century, follow a collection of travelers from London to visit the tomb of Thomas Becket at Canterbury Cathedral. The Canterbury Tales offers readers a "concise portrait of an entire nation, high and low, old and young, male and female, lay and clerical, learned and ignorant, rogue and righteous, land and sea, town and country," wrote Oxford scholar Nevill Coghill.
Yep. Definitely ought to read that some time...


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You should indeed. For maximum enjoyment, read it in the Olde or Middle English (whichever it was written in). Pronounce the vowels as in German (or Spanish). That gives the stories a very lyrical cadence. You won't understand much of what is being written (unless you know the vocabulary of Chaucer's time), but it really sounds cool.

Chachy said...

Yeah, I heard the radio thing about it and they had a reading of the text; it sounded very eerie, like English in some alternate universe.

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