With digitalisation changing the way we do things, e-books and audiobooks have become a reality. Taking it a step further, a new app will make it possible to hear Geoffrey Chaucer’s 14th-century magnum opus The Canterbury Tales in Middle English.
According to a report in Mental Floss, a team of researchers based out of the University of Saskatchewan helped in developing it. “We want the public, not just academics, to see the manuscript as Chaucer would have likely thought of it, as a performance that mixed drama and humour. We have become convinced, over many years, that the best way to read the Tales is to hear it performed–just as we imagine that Chaucer himself might have performed it at the court of Richard II,” Peter Robinson, who led the project and professor of English in University of Saskatchewan (USask) was quoted as saying.
According to a report in EurekAlert!, the app is the first in a series. It will be free and consist of a 45-minute audio performance of the General Prologue of the Tales. Robinson has been working on Chaucer’s seminal work for over 25 years and the app will also include a part of his research work. “This includes a new edited text of the Prologue created by USask sessional lecturer Barbara Bordalejo, a new reading of the Tales by former USask student Colin Gibbings, and new findings about the Tales by UCL (University College London) medievalist professor Richard North,” the report states. The National Library of Wales has also reportedly offered its digitised version of the Prologue’s original manuscript to make the app a more immersive experience.
Another important contributor to this app was Monty Python co-founder Terry Jones. A scholar of The Canterbury Tales, it will feature his two books on Chaucer along with his translation of the “General Prologue”.
“His work and passion for Chaucer was an inspiration to us. We talked a lot about Chaucer and it was his idea that the Tales be turned into a performance,” Robinson remarked.