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Troilus and Criseyde

Troilus and Criseyde [Kindle Edition]

Geoffrey Chaucer
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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"This, then, is a monumental edition xxx; enormously to be admired."

Times Higher Education Supplement

"xxx; a truly major achievement, and a milestone in Chaucer studies."

English Studies

Book Description

Chaucer's only complete poem articulates his understanding of love and its language as it charts the fast wheeling of Fortune which elevates Troylus with love, but sinks Criseyde into an irrevocable betrayal.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 749 KB
  • Print Length: 308 pages
  • Publisher: Start Publishing LLC (26 Nov 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #435,855 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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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What more could you need? 2 Aug 2003
Windeatt's edition is a masterful bringing-together of both the variant manuscripts and the sources of Chaucer's wonderful long poem 'Troilus and Criseyde'. The text is presented on the left-hand page, along with the corresponding passages from Boccaccio's 'Il Filostrato' in a second column. The right-hand page provides detailed textual notes and variant readings, as well as noting other minor sources. All sources are given in the original language, but are well-referenced and therefore easy to find in an English edition. This is not a reading edition, but rather a reference work to which any student of the poem would continually turn for a deeper understanding of Chaucer's manipulation of his sources. Well worth the expense if you have to study the work in depth. Combine this book with Windeatt's 'Oxford Guides to Chaucer' volume on 'Troilus and Criseyde' and you would have a detailed and wide-ranging body of reference and critical work on the poem.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A slave of love 9 Dec 2007
Geoffrey Chaucer's fresh, but, sometimes very sentimental text tells the story of the brave knight, Troilus, a `slave of love', Criseyde, a realistic widow, and their go-between, the intriguer and opportunist, Pandarus.

For the idealist, Troilus 'Next to the foulest nettle, tick and rough, / Rises the rose in sweetness, smooth and soft.'

For the realist, Criseyde 'Am I to love and put myself in danger? / Am I to lose my darling liberty? / She who loves none has little cause for tears. / Husbands are always full of jealousy' / And men are too untrue /Or masterful, or hunting novelty.'

The sly intriguer Pandarus brings them together: 'Just as with dice chance governs every throw / So too with love, its pleasures come and go.'

However, the love between Troilus and Criseyde cannot blossom for political reasons. The realist betrays the idealist.

For Troilus (Chaucer), the fundamental question is: 'Since all that comes, comes by necessity / Thus to be lost is but my destiny.'
Was his fate ruled by predestination or was there only foreknowledge by God? 'To prone predestination, yet again others affirm we have free choice. To question which is cause of which, / and see Whether the fact of God's foreknowledge is / the certain cause of the necessity.'
Chaucer's answer is `determinism': 'And this is quite sufficient anyway To prove free choice in us a mere pretence.'

However, the priests are not his favorites: 'The temple priests incline to tell you this / That dreams are sent as Heaven's revelations; / They also tell you, and with emphasis / They're diabolic hallucinations.'

For Chaucer, 'Think this world is but a fair / passing as soon as flower-scent in air.'

This poem is not as strong as the Canterbury Tales, but it is a must read for all lovers of world literature.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding 3 May 2004
By Gerry
Anyone with the merest interest in middle English and/or medieval romance and the cult of the lady simply cannot afford to pass this by. This edition is well annotated and has a reasonably informative introduction. Get it! Middle English, especially as written by Chaucer, is so beautifully economic. Why have cotton when you can have silk!?
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8 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A real gem. 5 Nov 1998
By A Customer
Chaucer's mastery of English verse and the subtlety of his narrative make this poem a rare performance. The poem's evocation of the tragedy (and humor) inherent in a first, innocent love creates a mood or atmosphere difficult to describe but wonderful to enjoy. The closest analogue is Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, but this is the more subtle work.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.0 out of 5 stars  28 reviews
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reviews don't necessarily apply to the edition you are looking at 13 Jun 2008
By Wanda B. Red - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Amazon seems to be including all the reviews of different editions and translations of Chaucer's "Troilus and Criseyde" on the same page. If you read the reviews here you will be very confused. Some refer to an original language edition (either the one made by R. A. Shoaf or Stephen Barney's Norton Critical edition), and some refer to a translation, at least one to the translation done by Nevill Coghill. The reader needs to pay careful attention to what edition is actually on the screen when making a selection.

If you want to read the original text, I would recommend Stephen Barney's edition. Barney is the editor who made the critical edition for the Riverside Chaucer, and his Norton Critical edition includes ten excellent critical essays in addition to Chaucer's poem, Giovanni Boccaccio's "Il Filostrato" (Chaucer's source), and Robert Henryson's "Testament of Crisseid." Shoaf's edition is also good, but twice as expensive, and it does not have as much contextual material. Coghill is a fine translator of Chaucer, and for the reader who does not want to tackle the Middle English he will provide an adequate experience. But beware: His smooth couplets sound more like Alexander Pope than the vigorous medieval writer he is translating.
29 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A marvelous translation and an excellent place to start. 8 July 2001
By tepi - Published on
CHAUCER : TROILUS AND CRISEYDE. Translated into Modern English by Nevill Coghill. 332 pp. New York : Viking Press, 1995 (Reissue). ISBN: 0140442391 (pbk.)
Nevill Coghill's brilliant modern English translation of Chaucer's 'The Canterbury Tales' has always been a bestseller and it's easy to understand why. Chaucer was an intensely human writer and a great comic artist, but besides the ribaldry and sheer good fun of 'The Canterbury Tales,' we also know he was capable of other things. His range was wide, and the striking thing about Coghill's translations are how amazingly faithful they are to the spirit of the originals - at times bawdy and hilariously funny, at other times more serious and moving when Chaucer shifts to a more poignant mode as in 'Troilus and Criseyde.'
But despite the brilliance of Coghill's translations, and despite the fact that they remain the best possible introduction to Chaucer for those who don't know Middle English, those who restrict themselves to Coghill are going to miss a lot - such readers are certainly going to get the stories, but they're going to lose much of the beauty those stories have in the original language. The difference is as great as that between a black-and-white movie and technicolor.
Chaucer's Middle English _looks_ difficult to many, and I think I know why. It _looks_ difficult because that in fact is what people are doing, they are _looking_ at it, they are reading silently and trying to take it in through the eye. This is a recipe for instant frustration and failure. But fortunately there is a quick and easy remedy.
So much of Chaucer's power is in the sheer music of his lines, and in their energy and thrust. He was writing when English was at its most masculine and vigorous. And his writings were intended, as was the common practice in the Middle Ages when silent reading was considered a freakish phenomenon, to be read aloud. Those new to Chaucer would therefore be well advised, after reading and enjoying Nevill Coghill's renderings, to learn how to read Middle English _aloud_ as soon as possible by listening to one of the many excellent recordings.
Coghill certainly captures the spirit of Chaucer, but modern English cannot really convey the full flavor and intensity of the original. Learn how to roll a few of Chaucer's Middle English lines around on your tongue and you'll soon hear what I mean. You'll also find that it isn't nearly so difficult as it _looks_, and your pleasure in Chaucer will be magnified enormously.
31 of 37 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The most unsung, but perhaps the most modern, of Shakespeare 11 Mar 2002
By darragh o'donoghue - Published on
One of his lesser known works, Shakespeare's Trojan play is also one of his most intriguing. Not quite a burlesque, 'Troilus and Cressida''s lurches in tone, from farce to historical drama to romance to tragedy, and its blurring of these modes, explains why generations of critics and audiences have found it so unsatisfying, and why today it can seem so modern. Its disenchanted tone, its interest in the baser human instincts underlying (classical) heroism look forward to such 20th century works as Giraudoux's 'The Trojan War Will Not Take Place' or Terry Jones' 'Chaucer's Knight'; the aristocratic ideals of Love and War, inextricably linked in this play, are debased by the merchant-class language of exchange, trade, food, possesion - the passionate affair at its centre is organised by the man who gave his name to pimps, Pandarus, and is more concerned with immediate sexual gratification than anything transcendental. The Siege of Troy sequences are full of the elaborately formal rhetoric we expect from Shakespeare's history plays, but well-wrought diplomacy masks ignoble trickery; the great heroes Ajax and Achilles are petulant egotists, the latter preferring the company of his catamite to combat; the actual war sequences, when they finally come, are a breathless farce of exits and entrances. There are a lot of words in this play, but very few deeds.
Paris, Prince of Troy, has abducted Helen, wife of Menelaus, King of Sparta. Led by the latter's brother Agamemnon, and his Machiavellian advisors Ulysses and Nestor, the Greeks besiege Troy, demanding the return of Helen. However, Achilles' dissatisfaction at the generals' endless politicking has spread discontent in the ranks. Within Troy, war takes a distinct second place to matters of the heart. While Paris wallows in luxury with his prize, his youngest brother Troilus uses Pandarus as a go-between to arrange a night of love with his niece, Cressida. When one of the Trojan leaders is taken prisoner by the Greeks, the ransom price is Cressida.
There is only one character in 'Troilus' who can be said to be at all noble and not self-interested, the eldest Trojan prince Hector, who, despite his odd interpreation of the quality 'honour', detests a meaningless war, and tries to spare as many of his enemies' lives as he can. He is clearly an anachronism, however, and his ignoble slaughter at the hands of a brutal gang suggests what price chivalry. Perhaps the most recognisable character is Thirsitis, the most savagely cynical of his great Fools. Imagine Falstaff without the redeeming lovability - he divests heroes and events of their false values, satirises motivations, abuses his dim-witted 'betters' and tries to preserve his life at any cost. Written in between 'Hamlet' and 'All's Well That Ends Well', 'Troilus' bears all the marks of Shakespeare's mid-period: the contrapuntal structure, the dense figures, the audacious neologisms, and the intitially deferred, accelerated action. If some of the diplomacy scenes are too efective in their parodic pastiche of classical rhetoric, and slow things down, Act 5 is an amazing dramatic rush, crowning the play's disenchantment with love (with an extraordinarily creepy three-way spaying of an infidelity) and war.
The New Penguin Shakespeare is the most accessible and user-friendly edition for students and the general reader (although it does need updating). Unlike the Oxford or Arden series, which offer unwieldy introductions (yawning with irrelevant conjecture about dates and sources) and unusable notes (clotted with tedious pedantry more concerned with fighting previous commentators than elucidating Shakespeare), the Penguin's format offers a clear Introduction dealing with the play and its contexts, an appendix 'An Account of the Text', and functional endnotes that gloss unfamiliar words and difficult passages. The Introduction is untainted by fashions in Critical Theory, but is particularly good at explaining the role of Time ('When time is old and hath forgot itself...And blind oblivion swallowed cities up'), the shifting structure, the multiple viewpoints in presenting characters, and Shakespeare's use of different literary and linguistic registers.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Bard's Blackest Comedy: X-Rated, Post-Nietzschean Shakespeare 1 Aug 2007
By Samuel Chell - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I know readers who claim to prefer this play to Chaucer's "Troilus and Criseyde"--which tells you something either about their inability to read Chaucer or their jaded sense of humor. Shakespeare's version of the story is every bit as dark and sardonic as Chaucer's is light and satiric. In fact, this must be the Bard's blackest comedy, too strained, disconnected, and unfocused to pass muster as "tragedy." In fact, if we take seriously Ulysses' oft-quoted speech on "degree" (accepting one's limits as a requirement for cosmic order) and Troilus' confirmation of an up-ended moral universe ("the bonds of heaven have slipped!"), there's no longer room for the heroic or tragic in the modern world Shakespeare has created in this play.

Despite containing some of the playwright's most memorable and eloquent speeches, it's the cynical tone and absurdist context, not story or character, that we remember from the play. Somewhat like Hitchcock in "Rear Window," Shakespeare places the reader in the position of deviant-voyeur, subjecting him to both the testimony and proof of Thersites' recurring reminder that, where heroism and love are concerned, all is "war and lechery." If we decide to stay the course, we're rewarded at play's end with Pandarus's speech to the audience, promising to bequeath us with "his diseases." It's shocking that Shakespeare got away with such material in a pre-penicillin era, but no less noteworthy is the audience's masochistic compliance (in itself, a potential commentary on the degradation that Shakespeare forcefully exposes and criticizes in this play).

The play often scores with modern audiences because productions opportunistically go "over the top" with exaggerated visual and verbal bawdry. The textual version is necessarily five stars because nothing can touch Shakespeare (except perhaps in this case Chaucer). Still it's a good thing that the guardians of public morality aren't better readers or this one might not make the cut in some venues where Shakespeare is performed. In fact, that situation could soon change if acting companies continue to substitute for Shakespeare's language gross and attention-getting stage antics, using the master wordsmith as a license for selling sensation.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars tastes great, if you have the stomach 29 Nov 2001
By "novicaine19" - Published on
I think this is one os Shakespeare's most underrated plays, probably because of all the uncouth characters. Based on Chaucer's rendition of the story, T and C are Trojan lovers, and she is then traded to the Greeks in exchange for captive soldiers. Aside from this, the women of Troy are wanton and lustful, and the men are prowess driven. If you can deal with this, you will really enjoy Shakespeare's ability to wrap this into all kinds of twists and turns. It delivers a mixture of satire, comedy, romance, tragedy, and a semi-historical (in that people at the time probably believed the Trojan War really happened). Interestingly, this mixture of laughs and tragedy is reminiscent of war novels I have read about Vietnam. The romantic dimensions give this play its edge, and somehow WS manages to make it plausible in spite of all the killing and deceit going on at the same time.
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