With apologies to V. A. (Del) Kolve, whose pronunciation I am trying hard to imitate (listen to number six here for an example of Mr. Kolve’s reading), and Terry Kennedy, our dynamic medievalist-in-residence, who will no doubt differ with me on certain details (philologists! ach, du lieber!), I offer here a recitation of the first eighteen lines of the “General Prologue” to Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales. My students in British Literature to 1800 have to memorize these lines and recite them to me, and I’ve been promising them a recording, so here it is.
Some of the best lines in the language, these. Enjoy!