De Wife of Bristol on BBC Radio 4

Bristol_EnglandCheck out Edson Burton’s radio comedy, De Wife of Bristol, on BBC Radio 4!  Available for only a short time.

Botelho’s Contos da Cantuária a finalist for Prêmio Jabuti!

Brazil's  Prêmio Jabuti wins the award for the best award statue!

Brazil’s Prêmio Jabuti wins the award for the best award statue!

By Candace Barrington

I received this happy note from José Francisco Botelho, whose Brazilian-Portuguese translation of Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales was published 2013

Good news. Contos da Cantuária is among the finalists for the Prêmio Jabuti, the biggest literary prize in Brazil, in the category “Literary Translation – English to Portuguese”. This year has seen a huge number of works enrolled (over 2000 in all categories), so it is really, really good to be among the finalists; that alone is a considerable prize, even if the Contos don’t get to the final three winning places (final results come out in October). I also hope this will help to make Chaucer better known in Brazil; already I have been contacted by Brazilian medievalists who have read the Contos and are thrilled that Chaucer is finally in verse form amongst us. Some months after the first edition of the Contos arrived to the bookshops, a new edition of Paulo Vizioli’s prose translation has been issued (it had been out of print for over a decade). So it seems the merry company is on the road.

Congratulations from Global Chaucers!  Contos.

We will post the final results when they appear in October.

Traveling Chaucer

by Candace Barrington

Paper doll Chaucer goes from counting his beads to riding his horse.

Paper doll Chaucer goes from counting his beads to riding his horse.

From the beginning of the Global Chaucers project, our various collaborators, Jonathan Hsy, and I have faced the issue of how to theorize our methodological practice.  I had the opportunity to think non-stop about that issue last summer when I attended an NEH Institute, “The Centrality of Translation to the Humanities: New Interdisciplinary Scholarship,” at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.  At the invitation of one of the institute leaders, Chris Higgins, a group of us wrote essays for a special issue of Educational Theory, “Translation and Cosmopolitan Humanism.”

My article, “Traveling Chaucer: Comparative Translation and Cosmopolitan Humanism,” presents a theorized methodology for how we approach the highly collaborative process of studying non-Anglophone translations of Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales.

Equally important, this article effectively demonstrates the highly collaborative nature of the Global Chaucers project.  In addition to the usual panoply of readers and auditors providing advice and reactions that writing any article entails, “Traveling Chaucer” depended upon extensive help from Nazmi Ağil (Chaucer’s Turkish translator) and Leyla Zidani-Eroglu (a colleague fluent in Turkish).  Without their good will and expertise, the article would have been impossible.  Furthermore, without similar good will and expertise from other translators and readers, the entire project would flounder. Thank you for all who have supported this project!

You can read the article here. Please remember that this is an electronic version of an article published in Educational Theory. Complete citation information for the final version of the paper, as published in the print edition of Educational Theory, is available on the Blackwell Synergy online delivery service, accessible via the journal’s website at or

Chaucer, Historiador: Chaucer in Post-Peronist Argentina


BsAsBooksToday’s guest blogger is Joe Stadolknik, a graduate student at Yale University. In his first Global Chaucers post, Joe continue his investigation of Chaucer’s presence in Argentine culture and education. We first learned about his  intriguing work in this area when Joe presented in the Global Chaucers Roundtable at the New Chaucer Society Congress in Reykjavik. There, he looked at the unexpected intersection of Jorge Luis Borges, Chaucer, and women’s magazines. Here, he continues by sharing with us how Chaucer was used to introduce students at the University of Buenos Aires to medieval social history.    

We think you will find Joe’s introduction to  José Luis Romero’s post-Peronist appropriation of Chaucer another fascinating example of what Global Chaucers have to offer. Please share your thoughts with us. –CB


Chaucer’s General Prologue was required reading for students at the University of Buenos Aires in the sixties, but not as prologue to reading the Canterbury Tales. Rather, students of social history read a Spanish prose translation as an entrée into the study of medieval life. The Prologue was printed as the first installment in a series of texts that wended its way circuitously from Chaucer (#1) through printings of Matthew of Paris (#30), the Play of St. Nicholas (39), Trotsky (51), and an account of the 1378 revolt of Florentine wool carders (54). The course in social history at the Faculty of Philosophy and Letters appears to have nominated Geoffrey the pilgrim, speaking in Spanish, to introduce Argentine university students to the structure and substance of medieval society.

The booklet’s construction and design was thoroughly practical. The paper is thin, and the text rendered in a plain typewriter typeface. A title page credits the prodigious postwar Spanish translator Juan G. de Luaces for the rendering out of Middle English. Beyond that, this ad hoc printing provides little in the way of context for the Prologue. There is no description of the Canterbury Tales themselves, and no biographical information about their author. Its readers were left to make what sense they could of certain details Geoffrey provides about the pilgrims (the Prioress’s Stratford-atte-Bowe accent in French, or the pardoner’s affiliation with St. Mary Roncesvalles) without the aid of explanatory notes.

ChaucerHistoriador1 The pictured copy was printed in 1966, but it appears that printing began as early as 1961. This is the earliest date I could find for any booklets in the series “Textos Para La Enseñaza de la Historia: Historia Social” [Texts for Teaching History: Social History]. Presiding over the facultad throughout that period was the prolific and wide-ranging Argentine historian José Luis Romero. His appointment, first as rector of UBA from 1955-6 and then as dean of the Facultad de Filosofía y Letras from 1963-65, coincided with the depoliticization of the university after the fall of Juan Perón in 1955. This process of desperonización replaced Peronist favorites with a more qualified professoriate (though not an apolitical one, as Romero was a committed Socialist). Romero had trained as a classical historian but wrote extensively on medieval economic history, borrowing methods from the Annales school. At UBA he would found the “cátedra de Historia Social General” in 1957 [the Seminar for General Social History]. By 1959, the department was requiring all of its students to take a course in social history.

ChaucerHistoriador2 Chaucer’s place in Romero’s telling of Western history, then, might explain what exactly the Prologue was doing on the history syllabus at UBA. In two surveys of the medieval period, La Edad Media (1949) and La cultura occidental (1953), Romero marks Chaucer out as a man of his historical moment, keeping company with Boccaccio and Juan Ruiz. Chaucer can’t help but adopt a “new attitude” toward nature, sensuality, and the pleasure of life, in spite of the Church’s best efforts (La cultura occidental, p. 35). He laughs at the imperfections of the clergy with his readers; he speaks for a protohumanistic ‘radical optimism’ that contended with the ‘anguished pathos’ of the danse macabre and Flemish mystics (La Edad Media, 183 and 189). Chaucer figures in Romero’s history as one more witness to, and proof of, the cultural transformations of the late Middle Ages, set in motion by a crisis of socioeconomic order as feudalism made way for commodity capitalism (Edad Media, 72-76; Romero would write two later books on the late-medieval crisis of feudalism). The course reached for the Spanish translation of Chaucer’s Prologue first as a social-historical document, but Dean Romero had also seen in Chaucer a modern bent of mind. Chaucer’s pilgrims seem to have made their way into the classroom at the University of Buenos Aires as diverse glimpses into life during the long autumn of the Middle Ages, realized by a man of that season.

Further Reading

Buchinder, Pablo. Historia de la Facultad de Filosofía y Letras, Universidad de Buenos Aires. Buenos Aires: Eudeba, 1997.

Peter Burke. “Romero, Historiador de Mentalidades.” In José Luis Romero: Vida historica, ciudad y cultura. Eds. José Emilio Burucúa, Fernando Devoto, and Adrián Gorelik. San Martín: UNSAM Edita, 2013: 97-108.

Fernando Devoto and Nora Pagano. Historia de la historiografía argentina. Buenos Aires: Editorial Sudamericana, 2009. See especially pp. 339-77.

José Luis Romero. La Edad Media. Mexico City: Fonde de Cultura Económica, 1949.

—. La cultura occidental. Buenos Aires: Editorial Columba, 1953.

Pseudo-Glot Chaucer: Call for Translations

by Candace Barrington

2014-04-13 03.45.51We had so much fun with the Polyglot Reading of The Miller’s Tale at the New Chaucer Society Congress 2014 in Reykjavik that we thought we might try it again at NCS 2016 in London, but with a twist: the languages will be constructed languages such as Barsoomian, Dothraki, Elvish, Esperanto, Klingon, Na’vi, Tho Fan, Valyrian,and Vulcan.

Ideally, we will have the translation completed well before July 2016, and it will be shared on the website.

If you’d like to try your hand at translating a Chaucerian passage into one of these (or any other) constructed language, please contact either Candace Barrington (BarringtonC at ccsu dot edu) or Jonathan Hsy (JHsy at gwu dot edu) for more information.  Currently, we are considering this passage–the opening lines of The Parliament of Fowls–and we’d ask you to translate two or three lines of it:

The lyf so short, the craft so long to lerne,

Th’assay so hard, so sharp the conquerynge,

The dredful joye alwey that slit so yerne:

Al this mene I by Love, that my felynge

Astonyeth with his wonderful werkynge

So sore, iwis, that whan I on hym thynke

Nat wot I wel wher that I fete or synke.

For al be that I knowe nat Love in dede,

Ne wot how that he quiteth folk here hyre,

Yit happeth me ful ofte in bokes reede

Of his myrakles and his crewel yre.

There rede I wel he wol be lord and syre;

I dar nat seyn, his strokes been so sore,

But ‘God save swich a lord!’–I can na moore.

By usage–what for lust and what for lore–

On bokes rede I ofte, as I yow tolde.

But wherfore that I speke al this? Nat yoore

Agaon it happede me for to beholde 

Upon a bok, was write with lettres olde,

And therupon, a certeyn thing to lerne,

The longday ful faste I redde and yerne.

For out of olde feldes, as men seyth,

Cometh al this newe corn from yer to yere,

And out of olde bokes, in good feyth,

Cometh al this newe science that men lere.

But now to purpose as of this mater:

To rede forth hit gan me so delite

That al that day me thoughte but a lyte.

(Parlement of Foules 1-28)

 Update: Languages and lines claimed for pseudo-glot translations

1-3          Quenya (Lindsay Bensenhaver)

4-7         Toki Pona (Michael A Johnson)

8-11        Python (Matt Schneider)

12-14     Esperanto (Chris Piuma)

15-17a   Elvish (Mary Kate Hurley)

22-25    Deseret Alphabet (Tim English)



The Miller’s Tale: Wahala-Day-O! in Reykjavik!

2014-07-16 21.35.51by Candace Barrington

Chaucerians at the NCS Congress in Reykjavik, Iceland, were treated to a multi-media production of Ufuoma Overo-Tarimo’s The Miller’s Tale: Wahala Dey-O! on Wednesday, 16 July 2014 at the Tjarnarbíó across from City Hall. (At left, Jonathan Hsy, Ufuoma Overo-Tarimo, and Candace Barrington,)

The production begins with a live performance of Overo-Tarimo’s dramatic adaptation of The General Prologue set in Nigeria and draws on African folk traditions of storytelling intermingled with music, drums, and gossip. Once the storytelling framework is established, the production moves to a filmed adaptation of The Millers Tale.  Overo-Tarimo had planned to use live actors in this segment–just as she had in her production at Edinburgh’s 2012 Fringe Festival. Because, however, key Nigerian actors were unable to secure visas, she shot a pilot film of the play in Nigeria.

Overo-Tarimo’s adaptation of The Miller’s Tale incorporates many explicit Nigerian elements. As she explains,

“Nigeria as a nation is made up of many tribes and I try to reflect this reality in the various characters. For example, Abusolon’s character is from the North of Nigeria who has moved to Ibadan in the West of Nigeria to start a new life. As a refugee, he is particularly sensitive because of the massacre experience of his family and village in the North where traumatic killings have taken place and still happening.  Hence, security is one of the most challenging issues for the country with the rise of Boko Haram and other terrorists groups. His dream is to eventually move abroad to the UK or US, where he believes all his problems will be solved. In t he meantime, he falls in love with Alice, who taunts and rejects his love and adds to his torment. Nikori is from the same Urhobo tribe as the carpenter; hence, he enjoys partial treatment and is implicitly trusted by the carpenter. … “Julie you too like money” is a stereotypical reference to Julie’s [a servant in Carpenter John's household] Igbo tribe, who are known to be industrious, and Alice’s love of dressing and partying is reference to her Yoruba tribe’s uwambe ‘good time’ associations. Rabiu [another servant] is from Akwa Ibom, a tribe known for their domestic hard work and loyalty.”

The songs of Abusolon/Absolon are based on Nigerian styles. The dialogue is conducted in a mixture of Nigerian Pidgin English and the Queen’s English, thereby establishing social divisions and enlivening the comedy.  Nikori/Nicholas, the university student who seduces Alice/Alisoun, uses a form of black magic, a cultic practice associated in Nigeria with some universities. Throughout, the bane of Nigerian urban life–the blackout–weaves its way through the tale, ultimately providing the context for the misdirected kiss and Abusolon’s retribution.

The cast in both the live and the filmed portions reflect the production’s international flavor. Hailing from Nigeria, Britain, and Iceland, they made Overo-Tarimo’s The Miller’s Tale: Wahala Dey O! a global Chaucer.

2014-07-16 21.41.00



(At left, Candace and Jonathan with the cast from the live production.)

Polyglot Reading of The Miller’s Tale

10523345_10202678190939844_3058271171990410868_nby Candace Barrington

The Polyglot Reading of Chaucer’s The Miller’s Tale turned out to be my favorite NCS event. Held at the University of Iceland’s Stúdentakjallarinn, it brought together 14 Chaucerians reading in 14 modern languages (plus a bit of Middle English introducing the tale), providing the audience with a lively multilingual interpretation of Chaucer’s tale.  The line numbers, languages, and readers are

  • 3170-3186, Middle English, Candace Barrington
  • 3187-3232, Emily Steiner
  • 3233-3270, Mandarin, Jonathan Hsy
  • 3271-3338, Danish, Ebbe Klitgård
  • 3339-3396, Turkish, Nazmi Ağil
  • 3397-3447, Japanese, Koichi Kano
  • 3448-3500, Russian, Liza Strakhov
  • 3501-3554, Polish & German, Sebastian Sobecki
  • 3555-3610, Spanish, Alberto Lázaro
  • 3611-3670, French, Juliette Dor
  • 3671-3726, Korean, Donghill Lee
  • 3727-3782, Icelandic, Sif Rikhardsdottir
  • 3783-3839, Czech, Alfred Thomas
  • 3840-3854, Italian, David Wallace

To listen to the reading, go to . The audio recorder was not as expert as the readers, so please be patient with the quality!  Also know that you’re missing a real treat by not being able to see the readers in action.

Watch this website for a script of the reading in all 14 languages!

A special thanks to Sif Rikharksdottir for arranging all the logistics.  Without her help and guidance, the reading could not have happened.

Finally, MANY THANKS to our readers who stepped out of their comfort zone for the reading.  I hope the audience’s enthusiastic response more than compensated for their bravery!