Has there been a movie made of it?
It would be one long long very long movie. Several of the individual “tales” have been turned into TV specials, although I haven’t seen any of them. And supposedly, the movie “A Knight’s Tale” was loosely based on Chaucer’s Knight’s Tale.
Who are the main characters?
The Narrator – named Chaucer, but not necessarily the author.
The noble Knight
The Wife of Bath
The Pardoner – allows people to buy their way out of sin
The Lawyer (Man of Law)
The Second Nun and finally…
The Nun’s priest
What’s it about?
All these characters (and probably some unmentioned) are on a pilgrimage to some holy shrine. They decide to pass the time by each tellling two tales on the way there and two on the way back. And the one who tells the most entertaining tale will win the contest.
The Knight’s Tale: Tells the story of two knights, duh.
The Miller’s Tale: An old carpenter named John marries a beautiful young woman named Alisoun. Hilarity and adultery ensues.
The Reeve’s Tale: A crooked miller is approached by two men who want to give him what he deserves.
The Cook’s Tale: An unfinished tale about an apprentice.
The Man of Law’s Tale: The story of Constance, the Roman and Christian princess.
The Wife of Bath:A tale relating the quest to find out what it is women desire the most.
The Friar’s Tale: A story about a crooked summoner.
The Summoner’s Tale: A story about a crooked friar – out of retaliation for the crooked summoner story.
The Clerk’s Tale: A Marquis is obsessed with testing his wife’s loyalty.
The Merchant’s Tale: Another story of a noble marriage between a knight and a younger women.
The Squire’s Tale: This is an unfinished tale about some magical gifts.
The Franklin’s Tale: Another story about a marriage between a knight and a young girl.
The Physician’s Tale: A story about the most beautiful girl to ever live being pursued by a lecherous man.
The Pardoner’s Tale: The tale of three men out to kill Death.
The Shipman’s Tale: A lesson in how interchangeable money and sex are.
The Prioress’s Tale: The history and story of the martyrdom of Hugh of Lincoln.
Chaucer’s Tale of Sir Thopas: Chaucer’s first story, a poem.
Chaucer’s Tale of Melibee: Moral discussion between a man named Melibee and his wife, Prudence.
The Monk’s Tale: Some varied stories about some famous men.
The Nun’s Priest’s Tale: The famous story of Chaunticleer the rooster, Pertolote the hen, and the col-fox.
The Second Nun’s Tale: The history of the martyrdom of St. Cecilia.
The Canon’s Yeoman’s Tale: Explanation and story of a canon’s work.
The Manciple’s Tale: The tale of Phoebus and the white crow.
The Parson’s Tale: A discourse on sin and how to be forgiven.
Why is this book a classic?
This is the first modern book to be written in the common language instead of Latin, French, or Greek. It was a big deal because anyone who could read the common language of the common man could read these stories. Also, it was told by characters from varied social statuses and backgrounds. It wouldn’t appeal only to the rich and noble, or just be told to entertain the peasants – it was a group of stories for everyone. Anyone in that day and age (and even today) could relate to it.
Why should I read this book?
Because of it’s literary significance, and to better understand and appreciate Modern literature. I know you’re probably thinking “I can’t read Chaucer. It’s old and boring, and big words and I won’t understand it or like it.” Pish tosh. The Canterbury travelers’ tales are relateable. Yes, some are boring, but that’s because the character telling the story is boring. Some of them are hilarious. Some of them would give modern romance novels a run for their money. And Chaucer even uses vulgar language, including the c-word, and the f-word (and I ain’t meanin the word “fart”). I would, however, recommend you get a Modern English translation or a linear translation. If you have no experience with Middle English, this can be a toughie…and not all printings out there are translated.
Has it won any awards?
I think being called one of the most influential pieces of literature in existence is award enough, don’t you?
“‘My lord,’ said he, ‘when next the weather’s fair, And there’s no wind to stir the quiet air, Let someone bring a cartwheel to this hall, But see there are no missing spokes at all. Twelve spokes a cartwheel has, sir, commonly, And bring me then twelve friars, and know you why? Because a convent’s thirteen, as I guess. The present confessor, for his worthiness, He shall complete the tale of this convent. Then shall they all kneel down, by one assent, And at each spoke’s end in this manner, sire, Let the nose be laid firmly of a friar. Your noble sire confessor, whom God save, Shall hold his nose upright beneath the nave. Then shall this churl, with belly stiff and taut As any tabour – let him here be brought; And set him on the wheel of this same cart, Upon the hub, and make him let a fart. And you shall see, on peril of my life, With proof so clear that there shall be no strife, That equally the sound of it will wend, And the stink too, to each spoke’s utter end; Save that this worthy man, your confessor, Because he is a man of great honour, Shall have first fruits, as reasonable it is; The noble custom of all friars is this, The worthy men of them shall be first served; And certainly this has he well deserved.'” – The Summoner’s Tale
“What is better than gold? Jasper. What is better than Jasper? Knowledge. What is better than knowledge? Woman. What is better than woman? Nothing.” – The Tale of Melibee
The first group of these tales supposedly takes place on my birthday, April 18th. *big smile* And the story of Chanticleer and Pertolete is my mother’s favorite short story ever.
I enjoyed reading these, although it did take me quite a while to get through them. Some of them, I admit, are thoroughly boring. But some had me laughing out loud about to pee my pants. Don’t be afraid of these, seriously…