Pilgrim’s Prize (Pt.15): The Shipman’s Tale (Chaucer Journal)

Ah, who doesn’t love a stern warning about prostitution and money handling? What, you don’t? Well, buckle up.

Yeah. This is a short tale. It is not complex or particularly noteworthy. The tale simply concerns a woman unhappy with her husband and a visiting monk who sleeps with her in exchange for money. The money—one-hundred francs— is exchanged hands a couple of times and the tale ends with a preach about how one should carefully plan their lives and prostitution never wins. More or less.

Yes, it is more heteronormative issues but the tale is so non-intrusive that I couldn’t care much about it. Shockingly, then, this is a Chaucer piece which I have no real opinion on one way or the other. That being said, I have now pretty low standards for the modern adaptation; should be easy to wow me.

Does, then, the modern tale-teller, Denzil, live up and hopefully exceed my non-existent standards? You sure bet he does!

Denzil uses Sound Cloud to record a summary of The Shipman’s Tale. The twist is that he masks the summary as a game of football; essentially, he is the announcer and he has coached the characters and events within football nomenclature. It is clever.

I’ve listened to a decent number of summaries while reading the text and so I can say reasonably well that this kind of summary, where the summary is translated into the aesthetic of something else, is much-needed. I wasn’t expecting football and yet it matches the weird sort of macho, dis-interested cuckoldom prevalent in the tale.

What the football mask does is transform the summary from a pop artist’s one-hit wonder into something of a novelty band. Sure, it remains basic and not something worth much more than a curious glance every time an album is released, but it still is worth checking out all the same. Denzil, then, succeeds in making this rather tedious tale into a praise-worthy artifact. Hooray for him!

I would say this is a 6.5/10.

Link: http://www.pilgrimliterary.com/blog/2015/10/26/expectedly-rude-but-surprisingly-coherent-the-shipmans-tale-by-denzil-gurnard-1


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