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Book Title: The Canterbury Tales: A Retelling|
The author of the book: Peter Ackroyd
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 563 KB
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Reader ratings: 6.8
Edition: Penguin Classics
Date of issue: April 1st 2010
ISBN 13: 9780141442297
Read full description of the books:
God bless you, Peter Ackroyd for making this book very easy to read. It did not lose its original meaning. He only used the words that are familiar to us. Consider this example in the original 14th century English in London:My konnyng is so wayk, O blisful Queene,
For to declare thy grete worthynesse
That I ne may the weighte nat susteene;
But as a child of twelf month oold, or lesse,
That kan unnethes any word expresse,
Right so fare I, and therfored I yow preye,
Gydeth my song that I shal of youw seye. Ackroyd translated this verse into prose this way:My learning and knowledge are so weak, holy Virgin, that I cannot express your mercy or your love. Your light is too bright for me to bear. I come to you as an infant, scarcely able to speak. Form my broken words uttered in praise of you. Guide my song.Cool, isn't it?
The reason why I decided to read this book was the fact that my high school crush had this as her book report. I had Lewis Caroll's Alice in the Wonderland and she got a higher grade from our English teacher. That was more than 30 years ago. She did not become by girlfriend because did not court her since she thought that I was her BFF. If I only knew that this book, that she used for her book report, was naughty and bold, I would have tried at least kissing her.
Really now. This book is far from lame. Chaucer was a court poet and he got the attention of the King of England because he was a loyal servant who rose from the ranks. He was a soldier, a customs official, a judge, a member of the parliament, a diplomat, before he was appointed as a court poet. This book, as illustrated above, used to be read allowed or sung in the court particularly for the visitors of the king. Maybe some of the visitors preferred lewd or naughty stories. Some preferred religious tales. Some preferred gory, heroic, fantasy or intellectually stimulating. All of those are in one of the 23 (not 24, since Ackroyd did not include Mellibee's Tale) tales included in this book.
The 23 tales were told by the 23 out of the 28 characters introduced in the General Prologue. Chaucer used a frame story of these 28 characters having a pilgrimage to the Shrine of Saint Thomas Beckett at Canterbury Cathedral. Ackroyd said in his "Note on the Text" that Chaucer lived in a busy and noisy street of London when he was young (not yet in the court) and so he used to hear people talking on the street while he was inside his home. That became the harbinger of this book's frame story.
Most of the tales are either 2 (it's okay) or 3 (i liked it!) stars. One or two are 1 (i don't like it) but there are many which are either 4 (i really liked it!) or 5 (amazing). These are the following:
The Knight's Tale (4 stars) - about two male cousins who fight together in battles and they got separated because they fall in love with the same woman.
The Wife of Bath's Tale (5 stars) - about a whore (my interpretation) who believes that what women really want from men is to dominate them. This pilgrim has 5 husbands because she says that God said "Go forth and multiply" and God did not say with how many men.
The Squire's Tale (5 stars) - the story of a Canacee, the daughter of Genghis Khan. Very strong female character.
The Shipman's Tale (4 stars) - a mechant and his wife are fooled by a monk. I really felt sorry for them because they trusted the monk believing that he was a man of God. Moral: never ever assume.
The Second Nun's Tale (5 stars) - the story of St. Cecilia and how she was favored by God. Very moving and inspiring story of Faith.
The one missing star is due to the fact that this book is unfinished. Wikipedia says that this book has many manuscripts somehow indicating that Chaucer was not able to make up his mind before his death. In fact, at the very end of the book, he made retractions for some of the books he wrote including the parts of this book that readers might find obscene or vulgar. Yes, there are indeed those parts!
There is no winner for the free dinner at the Tabard Inn when the pilgrims return.
I just could not help it. I read each tale trying to judge which ones are my favorites and I was betting with a friend but nah, what a disappointment. However, Wikipedia says that probably, Chaucer's intent is only to show the breath and depth of his skills in storytelling by having 23 different voices, plots, themes, etc. My opinion is that he indeed succeeded and the tales glued me to the book for 20 plus days!
One of the best books I've read in 2012 so far.
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Read information about the authorPeter Ackroyd CBE is an English novelist and biographer with a particular interest in the history and culture of London.
Peter Ackroyd's mother worked in the personnel department of an engineering firm, his father having left the family home when Ackroyd was a baby. He was reading newspapers by the age of 5 and, at 9, wrote a play about Guy Fawkes. Reputedly, he first realized he was gay at the age of 7.
Ackroyd was educated at St. Benedict's, Ealing and at Clare College, Cambridge, from which he graduated with a double first in English. In 1972, he was a Mellon Fellow at Yale University in the United States. The result of this fellowship was Ackroyd's Notes for a New Culture, written when he was only 22 and eventually published in 1976. The title, a playful echo of T. S. Eliot's Notes Towards the Definition of Culture (1948), was an early indication of Ackroyd's penchant for creatively exploring and reexamining the works of other London-based writers.
Ackroyd's literary career began with poetry, including such works as London Lickpenny (1973) and The Diversions of Purley (1987). He later moved into fiction and has become an acclaimed author, winning the 1998 James Tait Black Memorial Prize for the biography Thomas More and being shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 1987.
Ackroyd worked at The Spectator magazine between 1973 and 1977 and became joint managing editor in 1978. In 1982 he published The Great Fire of London, his first novel. This novel deals with one of Ackroyd's great heroes, Charles Dickens, and is a reworking of Little Dorrit. The novel set the stage for the long sequence of novels Ackroyd has produced since, all of which deal in some way with the complex interaction of time and space, and what Ackroyd calls "the spirit of place". It is also the first in a sequence of novels of London, through which he traces the changing, but curiously consistent nature of the city. Often this theme is explored through the city's artists, and especially its writers.
Ackroyd has always shown a great interest in the city of London, and one of his best known works, London: The Biography, is an extensive and thorough discussion of London through the ages.
His fascination with London literary and artistic figures is also displayed in the sequence of biographies he has produced of Ezra Pound (1980), T. S. Eliot (1984), Charles Dickens (1990), William Blake (1995), Thomas More (1998), Chaucer (2004), William Shakespeare (2005), and J. M. W. Turner. The city itself stands astride all these works, as it does in the fiction.
From 2003 to 2005, Ackroyd wrote a six-book non-fiction series (Voyages Through Time), intended for readers as young as eight. This was his first work for children. The critically acclaimed series is an extensive narrative of key periods in world history.
Early in his career, Ackroyd was nominated a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1984 and, as well as producing fiction, biography and other literary works, is also a regular radio and television broadcaster and book critic.
In the New Year's honours list of 2003, Ackroyd was awarded the CBE.
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