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The Canterbury Tales is basically like sharing time at camp

The Canterbury Tales is something I've peeped at from the side of my eye time and time again, which has always resulted in becoming scared of it and running to something like Mary Poppins Opens a Door. Because while said tales remain popular and are some of the oldest English literature, etc etc, they are some of the OLDEST English literature, and their opening in its original form goes like this:

Whan that aprill with his shoures soote
The droghte of march hath perced to the roote,
And bathed every veyne in swich licour

NOPE. "Swich licour"? "Soote"? I am dealing with none of this. But. I'm sick of everyone making Wife of Bath jokes and me not getting them. So I picked up the Penguin Classics edition, which has UPDATED LANGUAGE, which is the only way I'm ever reading this since it's 500 pages and I'm not reading about "sondry londes" for that long.


In case you're unaware, The Canterbury Tales is about a bunch of people who decide to make a pilgrimage to Canterbury Cathedral to visit the shrine of Thomas Becket, because what else are you going to do in the 14th century other than die of plague?

After listing each of the travelers in the group while they're all stopped at an inn, the narrator tells how the innkeeper (I think) is all "HEY y'know what, I like you guys. How about, since it's a longass way to Canterbury, you each tell two stories there and two stories back, and at the end I'll decide (since I'm now going with you) who told the best story, and then everyone has to buy that dude dinner. At my inn. I totally don't do this all the time."

They all say yes, because who doesn't like telling stories to people forced to listen because of a bet?

I google mapped this journey by bike, because bikes and horses are probably exactly the same, right?

Ok, so six hours if you rode your bike continuously. BUT it's 65 miles. I looked that up and came upon what is surely the work of someone very special HERE, which makes me think the journey to Canterbury would take the party about two days. Maybe three. I don't know how often they stop yet. Or if there are bandits.

One of the unexpected benefits of reading this 1390s work is that Chaucer gives you details of the daily lives and habits of a wide range of people. The nun, when she sings, intones "through her nose, as was most seemly." The yeoman "wore a coat and hood of green,/And peacock-feathered arrows, bright and keen." 

Peacock-feathered arrows sound BADASS.

I'm only on the first story, which is The Knight's Tale (no, not that one). So far he's talking about Theseus and Greece, and I'm not sure what his game is other than to sound smarter than everyone else, but after the prologue, I trust Chaucer implicitly in the realm of awesomeness.

I hope the Knight's Tale ends like this


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