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Troilus and Criseyde (Classics) [Kindle Edition]

Geoffrey Chaucer , Nevill Coghill
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Set against the epic backdrop of the battle of Troy, Troilus and Criseyde is an evocative story of love and loss. When Troilus, the son of Priam, falls in love with the beautiful Criseyde, he is able to win her heart with the help of his cunning uncle Pandarus, and the lovers experience a brief period of bliss together. But the pair are soon forced apart by the inexorable tide of war and - despite their oath to remain faithful - Troilus is ultimately betrayed. Regarded by many as the greatest love poem of the Middle Ages, Troilus and Criseyde skilfully combines elements of comedy and tragedy to form an exquisite meditation on the fragility of romantic love, and the fallibility of humanity.


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About the Author

Born in London to a wine merchant, Geoffrey Chaucer (c1340-1400) became a royal servant and travelled as a diplomat to France, Spain and Italy. As well as being famed for his translations, his own work includes The Canterbury Tales, The Book of the Duchess and The Legend of Good Women.

Professor Barry Windeatt is Fellow and Keeper of Rare Books at Emmanuel College, Cambridge. He has translated The Book of Margery Kempe for Longman and is the author of the Oxford Guide to Troilus & Criseyde.


Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 434 KB
  • Print Length: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; Re-issue edition (26 Aug. 2004)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002RI99IW
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #318,386 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Geoffrey Chaucer was born in London, the son of a wine-merchant, in about 1342, and as he spent his life in royal government service his career happens to be unusually well documented. By 1357 Chaucer was a page to the wife of Prince Lionel, second son of Edward III, and it was while in the prince's service that Chaucer was ransomed when captured during the English campaign in France in 1359-60. Chaucer's wife Philippa, whom he married c. 1365, was the sister of Katherine Swynford, the mistress (c. 1370) and third wife (1396) of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, whose first wife Blanche (d. 1368) is commemorated in Chaucer's earliest major poem, The Book of the Duchess.

From 1374 Chaucer worked as controller of customs on wool in the port of London, but between 1366 and 1378 he made a number of trips abroad on official business, including two trips to Italy in 1372-3 and 1378. The influence of Chaucer's encounter with Italian literature is felt in the poems he wrote in the late 1370's and early 1380s - The House of Fame, The Parliament of Fowls and a version of The Knight's Tale - and finds its fullest expression in Troilus and Criseyde.

In 1386 Chaucer was member of parliament for Kent, but in the same year he resigned his customs post, although in 1389 he was appointed Clerk of the King's Works (resigning in 1391). After finishing Troilus and his translation into English prose of Boethius' De consolatione philosophiae, Chaucer started his Legend of Good Women. In the 1390s he worked on his most ambitious project, The Canterbury Tales, which remained unfinished at his death. In 1399 Chaucer leased a house in the precincts of Westminster Abbey but died in 1400 and was buried in the Abbey.

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
By Roman Clodia TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Set during the Trojan war, Chaucer's great narrative poem in seven-line stanzas tells the tragic (though also, at times, comic) love story of the knight Troilus, son of Priam, and his unfaithful lover Criseyde, brought together by her uncle Pandarus. One of the masterpieces of medieval literature, this is also a very humanist work, focusing on the theme of human love, however ecstatic and transcendant.

Do note that Amazon have published all the reviews for the various different editions against them all, so you should check whether you are getting the original in medieval English or a modern translation. This review is for the original medieval edition edited by Windeatt for Penguin, which contains an excellent on-page glossary, and a good, fairly scholarly introduction, but no modern translation. The Windeatt translation produced for Oxford World Classics is a modern prose translation which works well as a crib but erases the poetry of the rime royal stanzas in which Chaucer wrote.
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5.0 out of 5 stars THE GO-BETWEEN 19 Mar. 2015
By DAVID BRYSON TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
There surely can't be many tragic love stories more affecting and involving than this. Nor, it seems to me, can there be many that are more original, despite the conspicuous play the author makes of depending on ancient sources. The tale of Troilus and Cressida (Criseyde) derives ultimately from the Iliad through a multiplicity of mediaeval variations, cited in detail by the editor. It is original in the way Hamlet is original, in its depiction of characters and thought-processes, and it does not suffer from the comparison. There are four protagonists, and two are straightforward, contrasted with a wince-making clarity. Troilus himself, son of King Priam of Troy, is a mighty warrior but tongue-tied and shy when it comes to dealing with women, derisive to begin with at the agonies of those who fall in love and then falling hopelessly, suddenly and finally into the same trap himself. How often have we all seen just that happen within our own acquaintance? Diomede, sent to escort Cressida from Troy to the Greek camp as part of a prisoner-exchange, is uninhibited in that respect to the point of outright crassness, with an eye for an opportunity and an easy `nothing venture nothing gain' attitude that I would again guess most of us will recognise without much difficulty.
The other two are anything but simple. Chaucer stays deliberately vague regarding Cressida's relationship with Diomede (characteristically hiding behind his sources - he was anything but straightforward himself), and what if anything remains of her love of Troilus. However it seems to me that there was a calculating bit in her decision to give herself to Troilus in the first place.
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE GO-BETWEEN 19 Aug. 2004
By DAVID BRYSON - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
There surely can't be many tragic love stories more affecting and involving than this. Nor, it seems to me, can there be many that are more original, despite the conspicuous play the author makes of depending on ancient sources. The tale of Troilus and Cressida (Criseyde) derives ultimately from the Iliad through a multiplicity of mediaeval variations, cited in detail by the editor. It is original in the way Hamlet is original, in its depiction of characters and thought-processes, and it does not suffer from the comparison. There are four protagonists, and two are straightforward, contrasted with a wince-making clarity. Troilus himself, son of King Priam of Troy, is a mighty warrior but tongue-tied and shy when it comes to dealing with women, derisive to begin with at the agonies of those who fall in love and then falling hopelessly, suddenly and finally into the same trap himself. How often have we all seen just that happen within our own acquaintance? Diomede, sent to escort Cressida from Troy to the Greek camp as part of a prisoner-exchange, is uninhibited in that respect to the point of outright crassness, with an eye for an opportunity and an easy `nothing venture nothing gain' attitude that I would again guess most of us will recognise without much difficulty.

The other two are anything but simple. Chaucer stays deliberately vague regarding Cressida's relationship with Diomede (characteristically hiding behind his sources - he was anything but straightforward himself), and what if anything remains of her love of Troilus. However it seems to me that there was a calculating bit in her decision to give herself to Troilus in the first place. She could make herself fall in love, and her fascinating speeches with the twists and turns of their thinking say to me that she was no innocent, quite unlike her infatuated wooer. That leaves Pandarus, a creation to rival Iago in a different way. Again, it's left to us to decide what prompted such extraordinary vicarious commitment to bringing the pair together. There may or may not be hints that his motivation was not altruistic, but hints are the most they can be. It is not just a matter of his strange motivation but also of his extraordinary mental agility and speed of reaction. He plots the lovers' tryst in fantastic detail, when the fateful prisoner-exchange is decreed he tries to steer Troilus into a different outlook that in effect abandons the romance he has taken such incredible trouble to arrange, and to the very end he is still trying to manipulate the emotions of the devastated Troilus.

It is all told in an easy and relaxed verse, typical Chaucer in being at the same time deadly serious and tongue-in-cheek. This verse is not as 'poetic' as, say, The Ancient Mariner. It stands in much the relationship to that, poetry-wise, as Hamlet does to Macbeth or Othello. This is a psychological drama, not an opportunity to display the special `tone of voice' and `way of saying things' that Housman thought the essence of poetry. Obviously it is in mediaeval English, and this edition uses the authentic original spellings. This will slow most of us down a bit, but that can actually be a good thing. I found that it not only forced me to read with the close attention this drama needs, it kept me fascinated with the wonderful English language itself, and I had to notice how popular speech and even slang have kept alive ancient meanings of words (guess, deal, gear, right, sweetheart) that have been lost in more formal discourse. Where this edition is particularly helpful is in its footnotes reminding us of the meanings of certain words (and reminding us repeatedly, for which I bless the editor) and translating occasional phrases and lines where we might go wrong. I think I only had to refer some half-dozen times to the glossary at the back throughout a poem that is half as long as Paradise Lost.

The editor is no less a person than the Professor of English at Cambridge, so his introduction has the thoroughly thorough and also thoroughly stifling profundity that I associate with university literature courses. There are also notes at the back, very helpful in the main but obsessed with quoting parallels for the sake of quoting parallels. At V/1176 there is the line `Ye, fare wel al the snow of ferne year', and I thought immediately of Villon's `Mais ou sont les neiges d'antan?' On turning to the back I found that the editor just quoted this obvious parallel without further comment on what the connection might be, and for a moment I nearly hurled the book across the room. Again I wondered whether the proem to book III might have influenced Milton's great invocation of light at the start of the same book of Paradise Lost, but no light was shed. In general, though, this is a very helpful edition. When reading the Iliad I found that after I had read the first 23 books the 24th was comparatively simple. You may find here that once you have got through the first four books you are quite fluent with the fifth.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Penguin is an excellent classics publisher 21 Oct. 2014
By Anna - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Oh my god this book made me so miserable for a solid two weeks in one of my upper-level special interest courses. That was not, however, the book's fault. Penguin is an excellent classics publisher, and this edition was well-annotated. The notes provided adequate clarity and generally I was very happy with this title. Be warned, though - this edition IS in middle English, and it's a beast. Hackett Classics makes a fair "modern verse" edition, if you're just interested in the story and not the complex linguistics.
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