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Troilus and Criseyde (Norton Critical Editions) [Paperback]

Geoffrey Chaucer , Stephen Barney
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

23 May 2006 0393927555 978-0393927559
This Norton Critical Edition of Chaucer's masterpiece is based on Stephen Barney's text and is accompanied by a translation of its major source, Boccaccio's "Il Filostrato". The editor's introduction, marginal glosses and explanatory annotations make it easily accessible to students with no knowledge of Chaucer or Middle English. Also included is Robert Henryson's "Testament of Cresseid". Ten essays by distinguished Chaucerians illuminate the major scholarly issues raised by this complex and challenging poem. A glossary and selected bibliography are also included.

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Troilus and Criseyde (Norton Critical Editions) + The Riverside Chaucer: Reissued with a new foreword by Christopher Cannon
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Product details

  • Paperback: 656 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (23 May 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393927555
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393927559
  • Product Dimensions: 23.8 x 16.2 x 2.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 307,388 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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.

Product Description


"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

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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 4 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) 3.8 out of 5 stars  17 reviews
16 of 16 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.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worthy of the annals of Priam! 1 Jun 1999
By A Customer - Published on
As usual, Chaucer has come through as the greatest poet of Middle English. This is by far the best expansion on Homer's epic poetry to appear since Publius Vergilius Maro's Æneid, and I'm sure Augustus would have enjoyed it just as much! Shakespeare's adaptation, Troilus and Cressida, is an excellent play but does not give this poem justice. I would definitely recommend it to any serious fan of English literature!
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 5 stars for the original text 4 Jun 2004
By A Customer - Published on
Zero stars for "translations". If you enjoy Reader's Digest abridged books and the like then you might prefer a "translation" from English into English of Chaucer's epic. I read this for Chaucer's beautiful use of the English (well, okey, Middle English, but it's still English!) language. Modern writers are so superfluous! Now we write "Once you have come to possess something it is just as difficult to hold on to it as it was to get it in the first place", when once you could write, "As gret a craft is kep wel as wynne". How our language has deteriorated!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The same but different! 21 Mar 2003
By Michael - Published on
I'm a lover of Shakespeare's works. I found a used copy of George Krapp's 'Troilus and Cressida' at a local book store. This Modern Library version is an reprint of his classic translation. If you love to read the sources for Shakespeare (Plutarch, Chaucer,Homer and Ovid) then I believe readers will enjoy this poem.
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