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Troilus and Criseyde: A New Translation (Oxford World's Classics) [Paperback]

Geoffrey Chaucer , Barry Windeatt
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Kindle Edition £4.63  
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Paperback, 2 April 1998 £8.52  
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Troilus and Criseyde: A New Translation (Oxford World's Classics) Troilus and Criseyde: A New Translation (Oxford World's Classics) 4.0 out of 5 stars (2)
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Book Description

2 April 1998 Oxford World's Classics
`Now listen with good will, as I go straight to my subject matter, in which you may hear the double sorrows of Troilus in his love for Criseyde, and how she forsook him before she died' Like Romeo and Juliet, or Tristan and Iseult, the names of Troilus and Criseyde will always be united: a pair of lovers whose names are inseparable from passion and tragedy. Troilus and Criseyde is Chaucer's masterpiece and was prized for centuries as his supreme achievement. The story of how Troilus and Criseyde discover love and how she abandons him for Diomede after her departure from Troy is dramatically presented in all its comedy and tragic pathos. With its deep humanity and penetrating insight, Troilus and Criseyde is now recognized as one of the finest narrative poems in the English language. This is a new translation into contemporary English of Chaucer's greatest single poem which can be read alongside the Middle English original, or as an accurate and readable version in its own right.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford Paperbacks; New edition edition (2 April 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192832905
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192832900
  • Product Dimensions: 19.3 x 12.6 x 1.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,363,741 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

About the Author

Barry Windeatt is Reader in Medieval Literature at the University of Cambridge and Fellow of Emmanuel College, Cambridge. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
Before I part from you, my purpose is to tell of the double sorrow of Troilus, son of King Priam of Troy-how his fortunes in love rose and fell from misery to joy, then afterwards out of joy. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE GO-BETWEEN 15 Sep 2004
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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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Beware!! 5 Oct 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I am no scholar but this is a very readable translation - it flows well like any modern literature.
However I have only given the book 3 stars simply because I wanted the original middle english which one of the other reviews suggests that it has alongside the translation - it is obviously referring to another edition, not the one illustrated. I thoroughly recommend this book but beware!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Boosted, yet befuddled 30 Aug 2000
By Michelle Weiss - Published on
While several reviews have already commented on the overall story of "Troilus and Criseyde," I choose simply to add that its content and themes at once parody temporal love and solemnly instruct fledgling earthly lovers. Further, the book serves as bridge between ancient pagan beliefs and Christianity.
Regarding in particular Mr. Windeatt's translation of this classic tale, I have more to say. Readers of his version will learn, with aid of his Explanatory Notes, the constellation of literary sources from which Chaucer borrowed to assemble his narrative epic. Readers will also discover that Chaucer spawned several proverbial phrases that are still in use today and which Mr. Windeatt kindly lists at the back of his edition.
But while almost any classic piece of literature warrants a rating of five stars for the sake of endurance alone, I cannot give Mr. Windeatt's translation five stars. My reason is best articulated in the form of a query: Why, oh why, Mr. Windeatt, did you translate Chaucer's "Troilus and Criseyde" into prose?!? Your Introduction and Translator's Note provide little answer to this essential question.
I regret that my first encounter with this literary staple was not in its intended poetic form. Anyone wishing to pursue "Troilus and Criseyde" ought to learn from my purchasing oversight and choose a verse translation before reading it in prose. With that said, I'm nevertheless glad to have ingressed Mr. Windeatt's prodigious and commendable gateway to the world of Geoffrey Chaucer.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice complement. 10 Dec 2000
By Samuel Chell - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
As good as this translation is, it should be used in conjunction with a reading of the original poem in Middle English verse. And the reader who is too impatient to deal with Chaucer's language should, at the very least, try a modern verse translation before reading this version in prose. There's something to be said for prose translations of epic verse, since the translator need not make compromises between precise meaning and poetic form. Homer's "Odyssey," for example, is so much like a novel that there's little justification for requiring the translator to format the language in metrical hexameters. But Chaucer's poem is a different matter--a lyrical, romantic drama, or subtle, psychological "melodrama," that almost demands a poetic translation for its genial musical qualities to come through. For the reader not planning to read the poem in the original language, I'd suggest checking out "Chaucers (sic) Troilus and Cressida," translated by James Donohoe. It may not be the easiest book to locate, but it's worth the reader's effort to do so.
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