7 Times "The Canterbury Tales" Was Way Dirtier Than "50 Shades of Grey"

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I first read excerpts from Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales during my junior year of high school. (Brief synopsis: a bunch of pilgrims are traveling together and decide to tell one another stories.) We read a modern English translation, and I was bored out of my mind. Years later in graduate school I read all of the tales in their original Middle English and, thanks to some excellent footnotes, was able to appreciate how over-the-top sexual the tales actually were.

OK, let me be upfront with something right off the bat: that title is an exaggeration. As opposed to 50 Shades, you are unlikely to come across butt plugs, Keggle balls, or sex dungeons in Chaucer's best-known work. However, that doesn't mean that these tales aren't graphic and bawdy enough to make even the most hardcore Christian Grey fan blush.

For some reason, a lot of us (or, OK, maybe just me) assume that dirty jokes didn't exist before twentieth century. Whenever I read older works, I'm shocked to find how many different euphemisms there are for words like "vagina" and "syphilis". And boy does Chaucer have a lot of references to vaginas.

If you've never read a graphic sex scene in Middle English before than are you in for a real treat. I would suggest reading the following passages out loud. Not only does it make them easier to understand (even if you've never read Middle English before, you'll probably recognize a lot of the words when you hear them), but you'll also gift anyone within earshot with some beautiful passages of couples fornicating in trees and sticking their butts in each other's faces.