Banned, Censored, Challenged: The Canterbury Tales

Authored in the 14th or 15th century, The Canterbury Tales is one of the oldest works in the English language. The work contains some of the oldest known uses of “ar*e”, “sh*t”, “pi*s” and “c*nt” (spelled “queynte”by Chaucer).

Is it me, or does asterixing (fake word alert) letters make naughty words seem more obsc*ne?

But this book is not a study in foul language. It is a witness to the history and richness of the English language. It is written in Middle English. It just happens to have some of what we consider "naughtiness" in it.

Under the 1873 Comstock law in the United States, this book could not be sent through the mail. As recently as 1995, the book was banned from a Senior High School preparatory course in Illinois for obscenity.

You can click on the illustrations above to read Chaucer online and visit his website.


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