ABSTRACT

Thirty-five years ago in this journal, I argued on the basis of my analysis of ten translations of key passages in the Canterbury Tales that we could not trust translators to give accurate renditions of what Chaucer wrote. In this follow-up study, I analyze ten different translations of the famous opening lines in the General Prologue, beginning with “Whan that Aprill with his shoures soote.” I look first at the wide variety of ways the translators render the word soote at the end of the first line. Then, through a series of questions, I call attention to the many ways these ten translators introduce inaccuracies large and small into their renditions of Chaucer's first four lines. At the end, I consider the question of the appropriateness of Christopher Lauer's unusually free translation of the Reeve's Tale.

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