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.
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.
on 3 May 2004
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!?
on 5 November 1998
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.