I've just finished reading "The Canterbury Tales," slightly abridged and thank goodness...as interested as I am to receive undiluted impressions of various time periods, there's only so much I can handle.
And it isn't just the middle English that is alienating; there's the combination of repetitive themes (cuckolded husbands) and a tendency to name-drop Biblical and Classical references in long, boring lists. I got so tired of lusty wives and silly husbands that it was actually a relief when the Jewish people got all Satanic and killed a child.
Still, though, it was a worthy and occasionally fun slog. It's interesting how easy it is to read this form on English once you're on a roll (and how impenetrable the English becomes when it dives into philosophy or morality). I'm REALLY thrilled at how downright raunchy some of the tales were...like, if you heard a guy in a bar talking like this today you'd be shocked and somewhat put off your chicken wings...you'd never want to kiss HIS relics!
Thanks, Chaucer, for writing these stories, even if you stole most of the plots. I wanted to know how people spoke in the 14th century, and now I know: they spoke in rhyme.