The Pardoner’s Tale
  Price: $5.00
Item #: OR112
Medium: Download
Audio: 231 KB

CD version in 17 tracks digitally remastered and re–edited by Troy Sales and Paul Thomas in 2003. Joseph Gallagher is both an English professor and a member of Equity, well-known for his dramatic performances of Middle and Old English.

In this wonderful example of the medieval aesthetic of juxtaposing ideal and grotesque, the ambiguous Pardoner preaches his exemplum that he knows by heart because of its success in moving his audience to part with their money in return for having one of his pardons, supposedly coming from the hand of the pope himself in Rome. But the Pardoner deep down is not so interested in turning people from sin as in turning money for his own enrichment out of their pockets and purses.

The effect of the tale on the audience of pilgrims, following the Pardoner's confession of his own avaricious hypocrisy, is striking in its power to illustrate the deadly sin of avarice, but when the Pardoner breaks the mood and engages in his usual follow-up to this tale by engaging in the grotesque comedy of trying to lighten the coin purse of the Host, Harry Bailey, the rather avaricious Host shows his nasty streak and sensitivity to playful criticism by attacking the sexuality of the Pardoner, the gay companion to the grotesque Summoner on this pilgrimage to Canterbury. Only the intervention of the token noble pilgrim of the ideal sort, the Knight, can bring peace to this avaricious pair who know each other's weaknesses: the Host, who has been having a free vacation with guaranteed return business at his inn when this large group of pilgrims returns to Southwark to stay the night and eat a celebratory expensive meal together, and the Pardoner, who has brought his own relics into this devil's temple, the inn full of its tavern vices, the sort of place Harry Bailey makes his living in too, and in which venue the Pardoner parodies the purpose of the whole Canterbury journey with his grotesque, fake relics' show where all have stopped for a break from the journey. Some of Chaucer's most telling insights into human foibles occur in this tale.

Recorded at Simon Fraser University 1994
Readers: Joseph Gallagher
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