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WILLIAM CAXTON’S ORIGINAL WOODCUT ILLUSTRATIONS FROM1483,THE ILLUSTRATIONS FROM 1532 AND EXTRACTS FROM THE CHAUCER TEXT OF 1561. COMPILED, ANNOTATED AND WITH MODERN VERSIONS OF THE CHAUCER TEXTS
Meet the most famous characters of the English Middle Ages, Geoffrey Chaucer’s pilgrims from The Canterbury Tales. All the original woodcuts depicting them from the 1400s and 1500s are here reprinted, showing us how they would have appeared if we had seen them riding past. Chaucer’s text describing each one is given in the original Middle English as well as in a new modern translation, making it easy to read the text in whichever version one prefers.
The book concentrates on the personalities in Chaucer’s famous work. Today when pilgrimages are again becoming popular, we can vividly imagine ourselves on the pilgrimage with Chaucer’s twenty-two characters. There is the knight, whose manner was ‘as meek as a maid’s’. There is the squire, who ‘all day long sang and played the flute’. There is the prioress whose outer lip was ‘so clean that in her cup no grease was seen as she drank’. There is the monk whose ‘eyes were fiery and rolling in his head’. There is the ‘wanton and merry wandering friar.’ There is the West Country seaman who ‘could cope with many a raging storm, even if his beard shook with the tempest’. There is the wife of Bath, who ‘had been married five times in church, not to mention having other companions in her youth’. There is the doctor who ‘loved gold especially’. There was the miller, ‘whose chatter was mostly about sex and whores’. And there is the cook, who ‘had a sizeable canker growing on his shin’ but who ‘made blancmange puddings in bell-shaped jelly moulds’.
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PLEASE NOTE that William Caxton re-used the same woodcut for both “The Prioress” and “The Wife of Bath” in the original printing, we present both here for completeness.
Review from Fortean Times (December 2022):
|Dimensions||23.4 × 15.6 × 2 cm|