Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Adventures With Chaucer

So let's see, what adventures have I had in school this term? Well, there's Chaucer...

Assigned reading for school last week was Chaucer. In particular, I read "The Wife of Bath." This wasn't my first encounter with Chaucer, but I hadn't remembered it being so difficult to read. I'm going to guess that either my memory is faulty or that I read it translated from Middle English. Because, what was in my textbook that I got this time around? The original Middle English. And it wasn't an easy read.

I thought it was odd to get the reading in Middle English without any advice from the professor on how to wade through it, but I figured she had her reasons. So I charged ahead. I'm an English major, after all, and I am totally up to a challenge like this. I read the footnotes, and the odd word translated into my own English (frequently not the words I really needed translated), and found that reading it got easier the more time I spent with the language. Although I knew that I was missing things I was certainly able to understand it overall, and I looked online to read briefly what others had said about "The Wife of Bath." I almost finished the reading, too.

Then I got to class, and the professor mentioned that she'd sent us an e-mail with the translated text. At our puzzled expressions she asked "Did none of you check your e-mail?" Of course I did, and so had others. But it turns out that somehow that e-mail hadn't sent.

To top it off, I was apparently the only one who waded through it in Middle English rather than look for a translation online. Or at least, I'm the only one who admitted to it.

I'm really not sure what the moral of the story is. I guess it's either that I'm crazy enough to cheerfully do crazy assignments, or that I'm crazy enough not to question crazy assignments. Actually, is there a difference? Either way has the same end result, I suppose. *sigh* Oh well...

On the up side, at least I got to laugh at myself.


This isn't Chaucer, but I wanted to share a photo and this looks prettier. It looking prettier probably has something to do with the fact that it's easier to attack a text with highlighters and pen if I can really dig my teeth into it. And Beowulf was easier for me than Chaucer.


Debra She Who Seeks said...

It's true -- both Chaucer and Beowulf are pretty well unreadable in their original form even though technically it's English. I've only ever attempted them in modern English. So well done, you!

Sarita Rucker said...

Well, it's possible to muddle through Chaucer if you have lots of footnotes and whatnot. Can't do that with Beowulf, though.