Seeing as how I’m also in Dr. Russel’s 201 class and am suffering through reading ‘The Wife of Bath’ in Old English with absolutely no close by translation, I think I’ll address that reading. I actually found it to be very interesting how this text I’ve been reading since High School might not even be Chaucer, but just some bored scribe that wanted to make some stuff up.I’m glad Beidler tried to justify his translation after that, because I was ready to go into the story thinking ‘oh, well this probably wasn’t Chaucer at all, so it’s really not at all important that I read it’. But Beidler really lays it out, explaining everything he’s doing (almost to the point where it’s over kill). However, given my recent history with the Norton version of ‘The Wife of Bath’, I was very grateful to it. While the placement of ‘merrily’ in the scenario mentioned on pg 39 is trite, it’s a problem that, if repeated enough times, could lead to a serious misreading of the text.Beidler works to not only translate words, but the entire sentence, which, especially as this is coming from a time with little to no punctuation, is very important to the over all meaning of any given snippet from ‘The Wife of Bath’.
I also think it’s very important how he addressed that ‘The Canterbury Tales’ were supposed to read aloud, and that the stories really served better as a sort of lyrical performance than as just a text. Actually hearing them spoken in Old English is something I encourage everyone to do, because it suddenly becomes clear why these stories became so popular. While it would look as if this language would produce hard, Germanic like sounds, it’s actually very beautiful, and being able to hear the iambic pentameter makes it much easier to realize where the emphasis should go in a line and how you should interpret it.