Everyone knows Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales.
Students of all ages, professors, historians, and more all have endeared and studied this novel of pilgrims one-upping each other in a tale-telling contest. Obviously, numerous audiobooks for it exist. Because it is a public domain text, everyone who thinks they have a voice worth hearing has made their recordings of this classic tale.
But sometimes you want something more than mere amateurs. Sometimes you want a professional– this is where this Naxos edition comes in!
With every word and line measured and carefully rehearsed, the Naxos edition is well worth the price tag. Hearing the beautiful lines carefully enunciated will give rise to passions of textual appreciation previously unthought-of of while listening to the screeching of low-budget productions.
But, the real draw here is the dual nature of this edition: although Michael Maloney’s recitation of the modern verse translation is well built, the true draw here is Richard Bebb recording done entirely in middle English.
This middle English recording is particularly useful if you are a student of Middle English and would like a phonetic guide, a short indication that your own pronunciations are on the right track. Other than that, the middle English rendition is great for connecting to one’s past and hearing that past come to life in an all too literal manner; to think that you can hear Tales spoken as Chaucer himself might have recited them is truly hair-razing.
Now, it should be mentioned that this CD only covers two of the tales: The General Prologue and The Physician’s Tale. Both are recorded in modern and Middle English, so though you need to be mindful of the translation you use if you wish to follow along in a book, you are not going to get the entire novel recorded from this single product.
As I said before, though, the expertise behind this audiobook– Derek Brewer– make the entry point well managed in my opinion; it is reliable, academically sound, and educational if you need it to be, but it is also fun and easy going if you simply want the modern translation. All in all, though it may be hard on the wallet, this dual-translation edition should be in any medievalist’s collection.
CD2: 2:62: 12
Product Link: https://www.naxosaudiobooks.com/general-prologue-and-the-physician-s-tale-the-unabridged/
Note: you may be able to find a CD copy on Amazon as that is where I found my own hardback version.