The Canterbury Tales by Seymour Chwast

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Accompany a band of merry medieval pilgrims as they make their way-on motorcycles, of course-to Canterbury. Meeting at the Tabard Inn, the travelers, including a battle-worn knight, a sweetly pretentious prioress, the bawdy Wife of Bath, and an emaciated scholar-clerk, come up with a plan to pass time on the journey to Thomas à Becket's shrine by telling stories. The twenty-four tales, which range from high romance set in ancient Greece to low comedy in contemporary England, are adapted into graphic novel form by Seymour Chwast-a pitch-perfect transposition of Chaucer's pointed satire. Chwast's illustrations relate tales of trust and treachery, of piety and bawdiness, in an engaging style that will appeal to those who have enjoyed The Canterbury Tales for years, and those for whom this is a first, delectable introduction.

Praise for Dante's Divine Comedy:

"With all due respect to Dante, this is Chwast's Divine Comedy…[Chwast] makes the Divine Comedy irresistibly comic and inspirationally transcendent."-Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"With his signature mix of humor, artistry, and high-level design, [Chwast] conveys a breathtaking amount of information in clear black and white line drawings…Chwast does a stunning job of telling Dante's story in his own brilliant style."-Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"A clever reimagining of a classic…The lamentations of the damned were never so much fun." -Entertainment Weekly

"Diabolically witty, devilishly expressive cartoon drawings…An accessible introduction to The Divine Comedy-a sort of high-end, WHAM-POW Cliff's Notes…Fiendishly entertaining."


About Seymour Chwast

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Seymour Chwast was born in New York City and is a graduate of The Cooper Union, where he studied illustration and graphic design. He is a founding partner of the celebrated Push Pin Studios, whose distinct style has had a worldwide influence on contemporary visual communications. In 1985 the studio's name was changed to the Pushpin Group, of which Mr. Chwast is the director. He is the author of the graphic adaptation Dante's Divine Comedy. His website is
Published August 30, 2011 by Bloomsbury USA. 144 pages
Genres: Comics & Graphic Novels, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Canterbury Tales

Kirkus Reviews

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Show me your stuff!” Yet Chwast recognizes that he is doing in large part what Chaucer did, “writing in the English vernacular of the time.” As these tales comment upon and interrupt each other, Chwast aims to illustrate nothing less than the human condition, filled as it is with profound differe...

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Publishers Weekly

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Reimagining a 14th-century masterpiece for a modern audience proves to be extremely difficult. Readers who want a very fast survey of the Tales will be satisfied, for famed designer Chwast summarizes

Jun 27 2011 | Read Full Review of The Canterbury Tales

Publishers Weekly

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On the other hand, Chaucer's work hasn't lasted so much because of the tales' plots but because of the personality each pilgrim shows and the subtle way Chaucer handles the interaction of tales and tellers.

Jun 27 2011 | Read Full Review of The Canterbury Tales

Washington Independent Review of Books

Lettered by the artist, or someone using a font based on his hand-drawn alphabet, this Canterbury Tales is sometimes momentarily hamstrung by bad spacing between words, and the fact that using largely similarly sized type throughout a book can lead to eye fatigue.

Sep 30 2011 | Read Full Review of The Canterbury Tales

Washington Independent Review of Books

While the very concept of creating an effective and entertaining graphic novel version of The Canterbury Tales might seem an impossible task, the truth is that the primary limitations are, as always, the artist’s and not the medium’s.

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City Book Review

Without the poetry I found myself asking while I read, “what’s the point?” Despite that question I can’t deny Mr. Chwast’s ability to tell The Canterbury Tales through picture and word and his ability to condense Chaucer’s opus, hundreds of pages long, into a single slim graphic novel.

Sep 12 2011 | Read Full Review of The Canterbury Tales

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