Children's Versions of "The Cantebury Tales"

1465 WordsJul 16, 20186 Pages
Being a work filled with an unprecedented “wealth of fascinating characters”, Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales has been translated and retold in many versions over the years (Cohen 7-8). Unavoidably translations and retelling require choices made by writers and editors of how to represent things and what to include, which can easily change aspects of the original story. The most difficult retellings may be versions written for children as writers not only have to deal with modernizing the language but also simplifying stories which feature adult themes, including corruption of the church, sex, marriage, adultery, for a younger audience. This essay will look at children’s versions of The Canterbury Tales retold by Barbara Cohen, who uses…show more content…
All of three of the children’s versions of “The Franklin’s Tale” follow the plot points of Chaucer’s tale, merely translated into Modern English prose to make it easier for young readers to understand. To further aide in comphrension, all three of the children’s version leave out Chaucer’s allusions to other works that medieval readers would have read, such as the Roman goddess Lucina (Norton ln1045) and Ovid’s poem “Echo and Narcissus” (Norton ln 951-952), but young modern readers may not have even heard of. The children’s version also all maintain the inherent didactic nature of the tale relaying the concept of not making a promise lightly and always keeping the promises you make. The children’s version which most closely resembles Chaucer’s original tale is written by Cohen. This version not only follows the plot points but retells many of the descriptions of how characters are feeling, although Cohen does not include the lengthy physical descriptions of clothing and scenery in her Modern English prose that Chaucer writes in his Middle English poetic verses. As with Chaucer’s tale, Cohen ends with asking the question “Who do you think was the most generous?” but doesn’t include the pilgrims chat leaving it up to the reader to decide (Cohen 84). McCaughrean tells the story like a fairy tale, describing appearances with a fair amount of detail. She covers all the plot points but does not go into the details of

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