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- Publisher: PENGUIN CLASSICS
- Format: Paperback | 368 pages
- Language: English / English, Middle (1100-1500)
- Dimensions: 127mm x 196mm x 20mm | 227g
- Publication date: 1 July 1995
- Publication City/Country: London
- ISBN 10: 0140442391
- ISBN 13: 9780140442397
- Edition statement: Reissue
- Sales rank: 194,429
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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Geoffrey Chaucer was born in London, the son of a vintner around 1342. He is known to have been a page to the Countess of Ulster in 1357 and Edward III valued him highly enough to pay a part of his ransom in 1360, after he had been captured fighting in France. It is probably in France that Chaucer became interested in poetry; he bagan to translate the Roman de la Rose and became interested in Boccaccio on trips to Italy. The order of his works is uncertain but they include The Book of the Duchess, The Canterbury Tales and The Parliament of Fowls. He died in 1400 and was buried in Westminster Abbey. Nevill Coghill held many appointments at Oxford University, where he was Merton Professor of English Literature from 1957 to 1966. He wrote several books on English Literature and was particularly interested in Shakespearean drama. His translation of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales is also published by Penguin Classics and is an enduring bestseller. He died in November 1980.
By Dianna Lang 25 Mar 2011
In high school, I struggled through 'The Wife of Bath.' Chaucer, I was told, was funny and clever and the father of the English language. 'The Wife of Bath' I was told, was the funniest and cleverest of Chaucer's Canterbury tale tellers. All I knew at the time was she got the Arthurian romance she was telling wrong, which was unforgiveable, as far as I was concerned.
I only finally came back to Chaucer a couple of months ago, read a battered old cancelled library copy of Coghill's translation of 'The Canterbury Tales' and loved it.
Troilus and Criseyde is, I think, even better. Coghill's translation is beautifully done, and I love the subtlety of the story. You come to hate Pandarus, as he manipulates, bullies and sells Criseyde into an affair with Troilus. He is intriguing. Far more so that Shakespeare's clownish panderer.
Ok, yes, different audiences, but the Shakespeare version is simply not as well done.
I can't help but look at this through modern eyes: I know that when it was first presented, to Chaucer's readers Criseyde was the villain of the piece for her betrayal of Troilus' love, but I can't see it that way. Chaucer I think makes a good case for her: she's a fool, certainly, but then, so is Troilus.
Back cover copy
During the great siege of Troy, Troilus, the son of Priam, sees Criseyde and falls in love with her. Later, with the help Pandarus- one of the first great character studies in our literature-Troilus wins her love, only to be betrayed.