DNF ed it at page 203Though I liked Chaucer s style, I found the story very boring and dragging, Troilus was very whiny, Pandanus very creepy and persuasive and though I liked Cressida a bitthan the rest, I couldn t take the melodrama any longer It s a kind of a Romeo and Juliet story set in the time of the Trojan War. This is a very good edition of the text Being a Norton edition, it provides a very good gloss by the side of each line, for the Middle English critical material and responses an introduction with very good background information and a translation of Chaucer s main source alongside the text.I have to confess I ve never been that enthused with Chaucer before As with Shakespeare, I feel that he s presented far too often as the be all and end all of his period They are massively influential, o This is a very good edition of the text Being a Norton edition, it provides a very good gloss by the side of each line, for the Middle English critical material and responses an introduction with very good background information and a translation of Chaucer s main source alongside the text.I have to confess I ve never been that enthused with Chaucer before As with Shakespeare, I feel that he s presented far too often as the be all and end all of his period They are massively influential, of course, but there s so much focus on these texts that pre university, I had little idea of the breadth of literature It pretty much narrowed down to them and Dickens.I didn t like The Canterbury Tales very much when I came to it in first year I won t say that an academic viewpoint spoils Chaucer, because I came to Troilus and Criseyde for a class, too, but I do wish people could come to Chaucer and Shakespeare on their own terms It was much easier to do that, with Troilus and Criseyde, because I knew almost nothing about this before I started this module of my MA.I loved it Chaucer s command of language and of his material is superb it s not like a modern novel, of course, but anyone familiar with medieval literature would be prepared for that, and this is surprisingly accessible even without that familiarity It s full of hyperbole and courtly love and Troilus being pretty flippin pathetic, as we see it and yet Chaucer s pity for his characters still creeps through.I highly recommend reading this in Middle English, with a glossary it s not hard, as long as you work out how to pronounce the words, and a translation would lose that innate Chaucerian touch The rhyme scheme often helps out, as it s very regular I can understand reading Sir Gawain and the Green Knight in translations it looks less familiar, usually, and is a different dialect which didn t survive as well into Modern English, and some people have done fantastic things with it but don t do that with this, if you can help it It gets easier as you go along.The Norton edition is great, packed with information and a good indeed, overly exhaustive at times glossary They gloss desolat , for goodness sake I don t think you could be steered wrong in getting this edition I Do Feel TerribleYes, I really do feel terrible about not being able to chime in with the exuberant praise most readers of Chaucer s poem Troilus and Criseyde heap upon this work of art And not being able to share the general enthusiasm about that love story set in the chaos of the Trojan War, I am even much farther from subscribing to the judgment of those who consider it Chaucer s masterpiece because that honorary title goes to The Canterbury Tales as far as I am concerned They may be an ut I Do Feel TerribleYes, I really do feel terrible about not being able to chime in with the exuberant praise most readers of Chaucer s poem Troilus and Criseyde heap upon this work of art And not being able to share the general enthusiasm about that love story set in the chaos of the Trojan War, I am even much farther from subscribing to the judgment of those who consider it Chaucer s masterpiece because that honorary title goes to The Canterbury Tales as far as I am concerned They may be an utterly ambitious enterprise, doomed to remain incomplete from the very start, but still this opus magnum shows Chaucer s ability to adopt a wide variety of styles chivalric, romantic, bawdy, eerie, witty, the list being endless and with the exception of the Parson s Tale, I enjoyed every single word of it.Not so with Troilus and Criseyde Of course, there is an incredible freshness and vivacity in Chaucer s style, and it is breath taking to read the dialogues between Pandarus and his niece, for instance, and marvel at the cunning with which this guileful match maker slowly gets the better of the damsel s doubts Apart from that, the beauty and power of Chaucer s poetry cannot be ignored Just look at this And as she slep, anonright tho hire metteHow that an egle, fethered whit as bon,Under hire brest his longe clawes sette,And out hire herte he rente, and that anon,And dide his herte into hire brest to gon Of which she nought agroos, ne nothyng smerte And forth he fleigh, with herte left for herte And yet, unlike The Canterbury Tales, this poem strained my patience after a while because five books of courtly romance are at least as daunting a feat as the walls of Troy themselves and since there is no grain of humour immersed in any single line no Wife of Bath, for instance the pace soon becomes elephantine All theso since Troilus and Criseyde never notice when a topic is exhausted and they could pass on to some fresher subject Instead, like one of my neighbours they always revert to what they have at length harped on about five minutes before.Talking about Troilus and Criseyde, they will strain your patience in many other ways, and since they are the protagonists in a dance of courtly love, one cannot expect them to be multi faceted characters Chaucer shows his skill at drawing characters in Pandarus instead, whose wiles and manoeuvres may not necessarily make him a likeable person but a least a credible character Criseyde, on the other hand, comes across as the shadow of a character, and Troilus seemslike a spoilt three year old, wallowing in self pity and in a tear drenched bed, weeping and weeping and weeping since he cannot get what he wants And yes, this is all so plausible There is a war going on, threatening the survival of the city as such and its inhabitants in particular, and yet Troilus cannot think of anything else but his passion for Criseyde And most of the family members, instead of setting him straight on his priorities, actually share his tendency to concentrate on private matters only We might have come across the true reason for Troy s fall here Navel gazing on the part of the leading Trojans All in all, Troilus and Criseyde did not work out for me, even though I love reading Chaucer, and a rating of three stars therefore seems to me the best way of expressing the lukewarm reading experience this poem provided for me Pandarus Original creepy uncle Criseyde Actually pretty defensible considering the circusmstances Troilus Does nothing but cry Chaucer Makes the Trojan Warboring than Bingo night at the local nursing home.Update 9 13 18 Still convinced it might be the most tedious poem of all time. From BBC Radio 4 Classical Serial One of the great works of English literature, this powerful, compelling story explores love from its first tentative beginnings through to passionate sensuality and eventual tragic disillusionment Lavinia Greenlaw s new version for radio brings Chaucer s language up to date for a modern audience while remaining true to his original poetic intention After seeing the beautiful widow Criseyde at the temple in Troy, Troilus falls instantly in love with her Ine From BBC Radio 4 Classical Serial One of the great works of English literature, this powerful, compelling story explores love from its first tentative beginnings through to passionate sensuality and eventual tragic disillusionment Lavinia Greenlaw s new version for radio brings Chaucer s language up to date for a modern audience while remaining true to his original poetic intention After seeing the beautiful widow Criseyde at the temple in Troy, Troilus falls instantly in love with her Inexperienced in love, he is unable to act on his feelings and locks himself in his room to compose love songs Pandarus, worried for his friend, eventually persuades Troilus to tell him why he is so miserable and is delighted to hear that the cause is Troilus love for his niece Criseyde Worried about her reputation, Criseyde is at first reluctant to enter into a relationship with Troilus After much cajoling and manipulation, she reluctantly comes around to the idea Pandarus is frustrated that the relationship is moving too slowly and engineers a complex plan to get Criseyde and Troilus in bed together Troilus Tom FergusonCriseyde Maxine PeakePandarus Malcolm RaeburnServant Friend Kathryn HuntCalchas Servant Kevin DoylePriam Servant Terence MannHector Diomede Declan Wilson With music composed by Gary Yershon and performed by Ehsan Emam, Tim Williams and Mike Dale.Directed by Susan Roberts. Some great authors spur us on to greater heights others serve to remind us of our shortcomings For me, Chaucer is of the latter type From the beginning, and to the bitter end, he was a struggle to appreciate I could, of course, sense his greatness it is manifest in every stanza Yet I could not, despite my dogged persistence, suck the nectar direct from the fountain I m only left with the drippings.A great part of my difficulty was purely linguistic I was going back and forth between read Some great authors spur us on to greater heights others serve to remind us of our shortcomings For me, Chaucer is of the latter type From the beginning, and to the bitter end, he was a struggle to appreciate I could, of course, sense his greatness it is manifest in every stanza Yet I could not, despite my dogged persistence, suck the nectar direct from the fountain I m only left with the drippings.A great part of my difficulty was purely linguistic I was going back and forth between reading Chaucer in the original or in translation when the choice was decided for me A friend of mine loaned me the complete collected works of Chaucer, in the original Middle English There were footnotes, of course, but not as many as could be desired.So there I was, struggling night after night, reading a language which I could only half pronounce and half understand It was folly, of course but I like a good challenge, and I m not one to stop a book once started Going on this way, I read the entire Canterbury Tales over several months no mean feat, I tell you Rewarding and entertaining Certainly But I missed so much that I will inevitably need to reread it Chaucer himself addresses this difficulty in this poem And for ther is so gret diversiteIn Englissh and in writyng of oure tonge,So prey God that non myswrite the,Ne the mysmetre for defaute of tonge And red wherso thow be, or elles songe,That thow be understonde, God I biseche Even when I did get to the point when I could read Chaucer without too much pain, I was still left a little cold As I also experienced while reading A Clockwork Orange, there is something withdrawn and detached about reading a work in a language half your own Words from our day to day life have a certain emotional immediacy which is lacking in words otherwise synonymous but unfamiliar Chaucer s language does make up for this in its richness, elegance, and novelty Even so, there is something hermetic about a language that nobody has spoken in 700 years.So what of this poem Well, compared with the Canterbury Tales, it is certainly lacking in ribaldry and boisterous fun The atmosphere is one of gallantry and courtly romance, rather than a bar where chums gather to tell stories Yet for what it lacks in liveliness, Troilus and Criseyde makes up for in its completeness and polish The Canterbury Tales are unfinished and uneven, whereas this poem is finely crafted and composed.The story is classic two beautiful young people fall in love, and then something conspires to end the love affair in tragedy Unlike Romeo and Juliet, however, the tragedy comes from unfaithfulness as much as circumstances There is, of course, controversy as to how Chaucer wanted us to interpret the poem On the one hand, the narrator points to the unfaithfulness of women as the moral of the story on the other hand, Troilus is so whiny and self absorbed, that it s hard for us to condemn Criseyde s choice We moderns, in oursexually enlightened age, run a risk of imposing our own cultural sensibilities on the characters for readers at that time, the story could have been a straightforward tale of the fickleness of women.This story suffers from the same malady as did Romeo and Juliet two protagonists neither likable nor compelling Troilus was melodramatic Criseyde,even tempered, but still uninteresting Pandarus comes across as the most likable chap in the story Even so, it s hard to understand why he or anyone else, for that matter would devote so much time to a love affair, while Troy is being sacked by a gigantic army of Greeks In fact, the whole idea of putting a courtly romance amid the Trojan War didn t quite work for me Courtly romance is silly, adolescent, and self indulgent imagine Romeo and Juliet pining for each other in Saigon during the Vietnam War Their entire city, all of their family and friends, are facing death and destruction yet all they can do is soliloquize.But, as I said at the beginning of this review, it really comes down to my own shortcomings that this poem fell flat At least I can say I gave it an honest shot Now, I can only hope that time will amend my faults, and learning my ignorance This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers To view it, click here It is a masterpiece still being readthan 620 years after it was written, and hundreds of scholars have had their say on Criseyde s betrayal of Troilus so I m wondering if I m the only one who thinks Criseyde has been getting shortchanged all these centuries The language is beautiful You want love poetry Check out the passage where Troilus undresses Criseyde in bed But to say that Criseyde betrays Troilus is as overwrought as the general emotional level of the characters Troilus I w It is a masterpiece still being readthan 620 years after it was written, and hundreds of scholars have had their say on Criseyde s betrayal of Troilus so I m wondering if I m the only one who thinks Criseyde has been getting shortchanged all these centuries The language is beautiful You want love poetry Check out the passage where Troilus undresses Criseyde in bed But to say that Criseyde betrays Troilus is as overwrought as the general emotional level of the characters Troilus I will die without your love Criseyde Really The biggest portion of the book has Troilus mooning over the widow Criseyde Despite being the second child of the king of Troy, it would somehow besmirch her honor should he openly express his love for her I didn t get that part Luckily, her uncle Pandarus is good friends with Troilus, and he hatches a crazy scheme where Troilus and Criseyde end up in bed together At this point Troilus convinces Criseyde of his love, and she falls for him.Naturally, happiness is shortlived Criseyde s father, who has aligned himself with the Greeks sieging Troy, arranges a deal to give his daughter to the Greeks in exchange for a Trojan warrior Before the exchange, Criseyde promises her undying love to Troilus and makes a vow to somehow meet him in 10 days.The exchange happens, and Criseyde is wooed by a great Greek warrior who really isn t a bad guy The promised meeting with Troilus never happens, Troilus heart breaks, and he kills or wounds a thousand Greeks before Achilles kills him Troilus goes to heaven and realizes how foolish he was If this were a tale told in a modern day setting, it would really come off as a coming of age tale where the heartsick teen boy learns there s other fish in the sea to fall in love with Instead, Criseyde gets a bad rap as an unfaithful lover Here are my bullet points 1 Troilus is never brave enough to express his feelings until an elaborate ruse is played out.2 Criseyde is taken out the city of Troy against her will3 Criseyde is practically held prisoner in the camp of the enemy army.4 Criseyde realizes Troy is doomed.5 Criseyde is sincerely wooed by a Greek guy who actually tells her he likes her without an elaborate ruse.In my point of view Criseyde is never unfaithful She is the victim of circumstances out of her control and is just making the best of a bad situation Let s give the lady the benefit of the doubt here Proposed subtitle An Introduction to the two Most Immature, Selfish Characters Known to Man. A medieval romantic tale of love destroyed by war18 May 2012 The story of Troilus and Criseyde I will use that Chaucerian as opposed to the Shakespearian spelling here dates back only a far as the middle ages, despite it being set during the Trojan War The interesting thing is that while Troilus does appear in the Iliad, this particular story does not I will briefly recount the story as I suspect people are not too familiar with it I also suspect that it is not the style of romantic comedy A medieval romantic tale of love destroyed by war18 May 2012 The story of Troilus and Criseyde I will use that Chaucerian as opposed to the Shakespearian spelling here dates back only a far as the middle ages, despite it being set during the Trojan War The interesting thing is that while Troilus does appear in the Iliad, this particular story does not I will briefly recount the story as I suspect people are not too familiar with it I also suspect that it is not the style of romantic comedy people would appreciate today Well, I will call it a comedy, despite difficulty in finding anything funny in the poem, but that probably hasto do with it not being the easiest story to read Anyway, Troilus is the son of Priam, king of Troy, and Criseyde is a high born woman of Trojan origin Initially Troilus is a warrior through and through, and claims to have no time for love, especially during a war However, it is not that he meets Criseyde for in those times, even in a city like Troy, you would probably know everybody anyway , but that he first looks on Criseyde and discovers her beauty and thus falls in love This is a very intense, sickness causing, love, but fortunately, for a time, Criseyde responds to his advances though this has a lot to do with Troilus friend and matchmaker Pander However it is not a happily ever after type love, as Criseyde s father defects to the Greek camp, and Criseyde is swapped for a prisoner being held by the Greeks, and then in turn is married to the Greek Diomede In the end, or at least in the original, Troilus was killed by Achillies This is a romantic poem, pure and simple, and is a beautiful example of English Renaissance poetry, though one should consider that the period in which it was written, the 14th Century, England had not entered the Renaissance Chaucer, however, had for he had travelled to Italy and spent time with Boccaccio who was famous for the Decameron, the book upon which Chaucer s Cantabury Tales was based upon The poem is also a tragedy, but not because of any fatal flaw though one might argue that Troilus fatal flaw is his obsession with Criseyde , but is rather the tragedy of a love that is torn apart by war What struck me as I was reading this book was that I feel that this book was the beginning of the Renaissance in England though it would not take off until at least two hundred years later and in travelling to Italy, Chaucer brought back some of the earlier Renaissance ideas Now, Chaucer, and in fact many Europeans of the time, did not know Greek Many of the Greek speakers, and even the Greek texts, were still in Byzantine libraries, and it would be another fifty to seventy years before the likes of Machiavelli, Michaelangelo, and Dante, appeared on the scene Now, to put the book in context, it was written around 1380, which at the time England was engaged in a 100 year long war with France though the war was not continuous rather a series of campaigns that occurred over a period of 117 years At the time the heroes of the first period of the war, Edward III and the Black Prince, and died, and Richard II was currently on the throne though he was not a particularly good king The use of Troy also conjured up images of patriotism as it was believed, even at that time, that the original Englishmen were descended from a man named Brutus who had left Aenias to establish his own colony Chaucer didn t know Greek, but then again neither did Shakespeare Themodern languages had by this time begun to supersede Latin as the written language and this poem was written in English, though not the English that we know , however most educated people of the time could read Latin, which means that Chaucer had access to texts like Virgil and Ovid and he even attributes his work to them at the end of the poem Granted, they would have known Homer and once again, Homer also appears by name in the poem however he did not have access to the original Greek and I am unsure if there were any Latin translations However, while he did not have access to Homer, he did have access to Ovid, and we see quite a few allusions to the Metamorphoses throughout the poem One of the reasons I mention this is because the poem falls into the category of a literary epic A literary epic is an epic poem in the style of the Iliad, but unlike the Illiad it was originally written down While these days all of the epic poems that we have have been written down, when you read the Odyssey you will see a number of recurring styles that suggest that is was originally a spoken poem There is also the use of the epic simile, which is simply a very long and descriptive phrase To be honest, we really only know of three true epic poems, two of them are Greek and one is German the Nibelungenlied, though I am not sure whether that poem is truly an epic , though I should also make mention of Beowulf and the Song of Roland, so maybe there are five However, being cheeky, I would also suggest that Paradise Lost is also a true epic, even if only for the reason that Milton dictated the poem to his daughter he was blind so he could not easily write, however isn t it interesting that both Homer and Milton were blind poets, that says something about Milton Another convention in an epic is the term invoking the Muses The Muses were Greek spirits that would inspire artistic ability in people and what simply began as a mere religious exercise before writing something has come down to us as a literary convention In a way invoking the Muses is very much like a Christian saying a prayer before embarking on a journey or a project Chaucer does something slightly, or actually very, different here and that is that he invokes the Furies Now the Furies are the closest in Greek mythology to what we would call a demon They are quite nasty creatures, and if you are familiar with Greek literature and mythology, you would know that one appearance of the Furies was after Orestes killed his mother, and was tormented by them until he was found innocent of the crime of matricide or rather that his duty as a son to avenge the death of his father overrid the crime of matricide It has been suggested that the reason Chaucer changed the convention was because this story was much bleaker and darker than other stories where the Muses were invoked Considered one of Chaucer s finest poems, second only to The Canterbury Tales in richness and depth, Troilus and Cressida is a tragic love story set against the background of the siege of Troy by the Greeks Written in the s, it presents Troilus, son of Priam and younger brother of Hector as a Trojan warrior of renown who sees, and falls deeply in love with the beautiful Cressida Cressida is the daughter of Calchas, a Trojan priest and seer who, having divined the eventual fall of Troy, has deserted to Agamemnon s camp, leaving his daughter in the besieged city, With the help of Pander, friend to Troilus and uncle to Cressida, the young couple meet and merge but with unhappy consequences Chaucer s long poem is cast in seven line rhymed stanzas, and is eased out of Middle English to be presented here in a lively modern verse translation by George Philip Krapp, who has retained not only the structure, but its spirit Emotions run high, the love is intense, the story unfolds with a dramatic urgency that draws the listener ever onwards yet Chaucer is Chaucer, and there are times when a deft line, a light insinuation, suggests the smile, the benevolence and the immediacy of the author of The Canterbury Tales Troilus and Cressida, though often overshadowed by the Tales and time and even Shakespeare who took up the story is a monument in its own right in the canon of English literature Once read it will never be forgotten