Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Books 57 & 58 of 2015: The Wife of Bath by Geoffrey Chaucer & The Beautifull Cassandra by Jane Austen

Both of this week's books are from Penguin's 80th Anniversary Little Black Classics collection. I read these almost exactly a year ago and I'm guessing that I was looking for something quick to tide me over until the following week's challenge read began. These are less than 60 pages each so they're the perfect books to read in between bigger novels.

The Wife of Bath is one of the stories from Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales. It gives a little glimpse into women of the period when it was written, and follows the story of a Knight who is to be punished for attacking a woman. Guinevere intercedes and saves him from death, but only on the condition that he must find out what women desire most.

I was actually rather surprised at some of the ideas expressed in this little book. It includes ideas about women being in charge in a relationship, which was not something that I expected from a book written in the 14th Century.

I also liked that it was written in verse. I would love to see it as it was in its original Middle English. I loved studying it during my linguistics course and it would be fun to decode it alongside the English translation. It was a surprisingly fun little read. I really enjoyed it.

At some point I would like to read the rest of The Canterbury Tales. I wonder if you can get a combination edition with both the original text and the translation. Actually, I might have a copy of The Canterbury Tales on my Kindle. I'll have to look into it.

I followed up The Wife of Bath with The Beautifull Cassandra by Jane Austen. And, yup, that's the actual title of it. It was written by a rather young Austen and preserves all of her spelling errors. It's a tale of a young woman who goes out into the world to make her fortune.

I'll admit, until last year's reading challenge, I'd never really read much Austen. I'd started reading Emma once, but never finished it, and I'd read Persuasion but that was about it. Then I read and fell in love with Emma and made it through Pride and Prejudice as well so this seemed like a logical choice for a quick read.

I really enjoyed this. It was interesting to get a glimpse into Jane Austen's writing as a teenager. In several points I felt like I could see hints of her style which would develop in her adult novels.

It was also funny because the stories in this book reminded me of the stories I would write in my youth (as well as other stories I've read which have been written by children and teenagers). The stories would always be heavily based on what I'd read or watched recently and it kind of makes me worry that some of those might be uncovered at some point in the future if I ever became a famous published author, hehe.

This book was rather implausible in places, though that's kind of to be expected considering it was written by someone with a rather limited would view. In places it was a bit tricky to follow as well. I thought it was quite sweet that they retained her (at times appalling) spelling and random capitalisation, though if it was me I would've found it terribly embarrassing to know that people were reading it.

I'd like to read the rest of the collection that this story was taken from. Yet another book to add to the list!

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