Contos da Cantuária translated into Brazilian Portuguese by José Francisco Botelho

by Candace Barrington

Contos.We’ve just learned of a new translation into Brazilian Portuguese “decassílabos” by José Francisco Botelho. Published last month by Penguin (ISBN 9788563560803), the verse translation is introduced to us via two blog posts. In the first (Da Lancheria do Parque aos maçaricos de Bagé, a epopeia da tradução), Botelho describes how he came to translate The Canterbury Tales; in the second (Chaucer e as metáforas da bebedeira), he explains the difficulties of translating Middle English idioms. I particularly enjoyed his discussion of lines from The Manciple’s Prologue: “‘Therto me thynketh ye been wel yshape! / ‘I trowe that ye dronken han wyn ape, / And that is whan men pleyen with a straw.’ / And with this speche the Cook wax wrooth and wraw” (IX.43-46).

I’m curious to learn how the translation fits the tales to Brazilian culture. Judging by the cover’s evocation of South American pampas and padres, it might provide some interesting parallels.

Thanks for Krista Brune (Berkeley), a fellow traveler at this summer’s NEH Centrality of Translation Institute, for this terrific lead!


5 thoughts on “Contos da Cantuária translated into Brazilian Portuguese by José Francisco Botelho

  1. Hello, Candace. I’m José Francisco, the brazilian translator. It’s really interesting that you mentioned the South American pampas; although the cover was illustrated by Spanish artist Joan Cornellà, most of the “decassílabos” were actually composed right in the middle of the brazilian pampa or “campanha gaúcha”, in the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul.
    Best wishes,

    1. Hello, José Francisco! Thank you for identifying yourself and commenting on my posting. I would love to learn more about your translation process and some of the decisions you made along the way. Our project is grounded on the premise that few readers know The Canterbury Tales as intimately as its translators, and we want to share with other readers what you have learned. You can best reach me by email at BarringtonC at . Thanks for all your work on the translation!

  2. Thank you, Candance! I’d be glad to help in any way I can. Actually, the process of translating Chaucer into brazilian decassílabos in the middle of the pampas has been a bit of an epic adventure, as I tell in one of those blog posts you mentioned. By the way, you can reach me at
    My very best wishes,

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