Chapter: English Literature During The Middle Ages
Alright, let's play a little game. I want you to read this excerpt from a translation of "The Miller's Tale." It's from the same translation I've been reading because Middle English hurts my brain. Right after you read this, I want you to try and imagine my face when I hit that last line. Ready? Alright, let's go:
Now, sir, and then, sir, go befell the case, / That on a day this clever Nicholas / Fell in with this young wife to toy and play, / The while her husband was down Osney way, / Clerks being as crafty as the best of us; / And unperceived he caught her by the puss.
Excellent. Now, whatever image of my face you've got in your mind right now is probably correct. Upon reading that line, I nearly spit Coke across my keyboard. At first I thought, "Surely that translation can't be right." So I opened up the Norton and went back to Chaucer. Here's the original line:
And prively he caughte hire by the queinte.
Prompting me, of course, to wonder, "Queinte? What the hell is that" So I checked the footnotes:
Elegant (thing); a euphemism for the female genitals.
Yeee-ep. That's our Chaucer!
Author: Geoffrey Chaucer • Year: c. 1386 • Info:Librarius
Lit Brick is a comic started by Jodie Troutman in an effort to read the entire Norton Anthology of English Literature. Having eventually succeeded in that goal, it now features comics about all manner of random literature. For more of Jodie's work, visit longtalljodie.com!