The Canterbury Tales: A Retelling by Peter Ackroyd (Deluxe Edition)

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In this abridged retelling the inimitable Peter Ackroyd transforms Malory's fifteenth-century work into a dramatic modern story, vividly bringing to life a world of courage and chivalry, magic, and majesty. The golden age of Camelot, the perilous search for the Holy Grail, the love of Guinevere and Lancelot, and the treachery of Arthur's son Mordred are all rendered into contemporary prose with Ackroyd's characteristic charm and panache.

Just as he did with his fresh new version of Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales, Ackroyd now brings one of the cornerstones of English literature to a whole new audience. This was a fantastic retelling of these immense tales of old. I was captivated by the characters and their motivations, but, at the same time, there are so many contradictions in how these knights of While Ackroyd cuts quite a bit, the reworking doesn't really improve the narrative, and the Thomas Malory.

Geoffrey Chaucer. Ted Stearn Illustrations. A mirror for medieval society, 'The Canterbur "A romp for the ages" - Vanity Fair - now with a graphic cover and deluxe packaging Renowned novelist, historian, and biographer Peter Ackroyd takes on what is arguably the greatest poem in the English language and presents it in a prose vernacular that makes it accessible to readers while preserving the spirit of the original. A mirror for medieval society, 'The Canterbury Tales' concerns a motley group of pilgrims who meet in a London inn on their way to Canterbury and agree to take part in a storytelling competition.

Ackroyd's contemporary prose emphasizes the humanity of these characters - as well as explicitly rendering their bawdy humor - yet still masterfully evokes the euphonies and harmonies of Chaucer's verse. Get A Copy. Paperback , Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition , pages. Published November 2nd by Penguin Classics first published May 1st More Details Original Title.

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Community Reviews. Showing Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Aug 15, K.

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Absolutely rated it really liked it Recommended to K. Shelves: core , , poetry. 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 se God bless you, Peter Ackroyd for making this book very easy to read.

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.

The Canterbury Tales: A Retelling by Peter Ackroyd (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition)

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. 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.

The Canterbury Tales 01 out of 3: Leaving London 1998 Russian Welsh animation EN subs

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.

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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! One or two are 1 i don't like it but there are many which are either 4 i really liked it! 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. 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.

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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! 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.


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  • 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 so far. View all 6 comments. Had my copy of The Canterbury Tales: A Retelling had this cover instead of the elegant dark blue and white jacket from the Viking edition, I might have known what to expect--and lowered my expectations accordingly. I do try to keep an open mind as a reader and I recognize that there is room for popularizations, but quite honestly I do not know what Peter Ackroyd was trying to accomplish here.

    I will grant you that it reads quickly and easily and it has its amusing moments, so perhaps that mi Had my copy of The Canterbury Tales: A Retelling had this cover instead of the elegant dark blue and white jacket from the Viking edition, I might have known what to expect--and lowered my expectations accordingly.

    I will grant you that it reads quickly and easily and it has its amusing moments, so perhaps that might be enough for some. Far too often he strips the poetry of the original leaving only dumbed-down narrative that's roughly on the level of fan-fiction. To give him the benefit of the doubt I thought perhaps I could just view the book as historical fiction and plow on through, but Ackroyd peppers the text with anachronistic phrases and descriptions--a cardinal sin.

    For example in The Merchant's Tale the wife takes a letter from her admirer to the privy to read in secret. Ackroyd says with odd coyness that she went "you-know-where" when Chaucer uses the word pryvee , which carried then as now the dual meaning of 'private' and 'an outhouse'. Ackroyd makes matters worse by saying she flushed away the torn pieces "down the loo", rather than as in the original simply tossing them away.

    Somehow I doubt 14th century outhouses came with flush toilets. Perhaps the strangest aspect of this translation is that Ackroyd seems weirdly uncomfortable and clumsy when discussing sex--a subject about which Chaucer is anything but shy. Chaucer glories in the subject and his choice of words and phrases are colorful and carefully chosen. He employs dozens of words and phrases to describe the sexual act and organs--whether he's talking about roosters or people.

    Chaucer's descriptions range from the poetic to the literal and are still easily understood by anyone who knows English and a little French. He fits his choice of words to the speaker--so the Wife of Bath uses careful euphemisms, while the Pardoner opts for coarse slang. Ackroyd seems to know only f, which he uses as often as a rapper. I'll put a couple of examples mildly explicit in both the original and the translation in spoilers. Here is how the wife describes her craving for fruit: I telle yow wel, a womman in my plit May han to fruyt so greet an appetit That she may dyen but she of it have.

    I might die otherwise. Both the Knight's Tale and the Second Nun's Tale are quite beautifully rendered and perhaps for readers who find the overtly courtly or religious tales off-putting, Ackroyd's version might be a helpful way to access the other and equally important side of 14th century life. On balance, for this reader at least, Ackroyd's retelling was a missed opportunity and a disappointment. As I worked my way through this version of Chaucer it quickly became clear to me that I needed a little help with Middle English. View all 10 comments.

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