Monty Python co-founder Terry Jones who died last month was also a scholar of Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, having penned two books about the great English poet. Before Jones's death, he was collaborating with an international team of Chaucer geeks on a Canterbury Tales app called "General Prologue." It is the first in a series.
“We want the public, not just academics, to see the manuscript as Chaucer would have likely thought of it—as a performance that mixed drama and humor,” said University of Saskatchewan English professor and project leader Peter Robinson.
“We were so pleased that Terry was able to see and hear this app in the last weeks of his life. His work and his passion for Chaucer was an inspiration to us,” Robinson said. “We talked a lot about Chaucer and it was his idea that the Tales would be turned into a performance.”
From the University of Saskatchewan:
Here bygynneth the Book of the tales of Canterbury. And of course also on ye olde Google Play Store and Apple AppStore. (Thanks, Jeff Cross!)
The app features a 45-minute audio performance of the General Prologue of the Tales—the masterpiece work by the most important English writer before Shakespeare—along with the digitized original manuscript. While listening to the reading, users have access to supporting content such as a translation in modern English, commentary, notes and vocabulary explaining Middle English words used by Chaucer.
The app, an offshoot of Robinson’s 25-year work to digitize the Canterbury Tales, contains key new research work. This includes a new edited text of the Prologue created by USask sessional lecturer Barbara Bordalejo, a new reading of the Tales by former USask student Colin Gibbings, and new findings about the Tales by UCL (University College London) medievalist professor Richard North. The National Library of Wales offered its digitized version of the Prologue’s original manuscript for the app.