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A Reading from Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales

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Item Type: Sound Recording Duration: 50 min
Event Type: Spoken Word Program Origin: KPFA

Professor Jess B. Bessinger, Jr. reads the general prologue and the concluding retraction of Geoffrey Chaucer’s “The Canterbury Tales.” One of the foremost experts on early English poetry, Bessinger offers a masterful recitation of this seminal work of literature, all in the original Middle English. The lyrical quality of Chaucer’s masterpiece is best appreciated when read aloud by someone fluent in the archaic form of English in which it was written. While most students have read at least one of these tales in a High School English class, those often belabored readings, replete with many mispronunciations and frequent interruptions, as various footnotes are investigated, often remove much of the beauty, and mask the humor, that is the hallmark of the original poem. It is therefore a marvelous opportunity to have all the various characters of the book so vividly brought to life by this recording.

Musical Selections:  General Prologue (45:49) -- The Retraction (2:24)
Performers:  J. B. Bessinger, narrator
Genres:  Literature; Poetry
Subject:  Christian pilgrims and pilgrimages; English poetry ; Tales, Medieval
People:  Chaucer, Geoffrey, d. 1400; Bessinger, J. B.; Bessinger, Jess B.
Recording Date:  11/7/1977
 
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