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Troilus and Criseyde

3.78  ·  Rating Details ·  4,934 Ratings  ·  135 Reviews
Chaucer's longest complete poem is the supreme evocation of doomed courtly love in medieval English literature.

Set during the tenth year of the siege of Troy, the poem relates how Troilus - with the help of Criseyde's wily uncle Pandarus - persuades her to become his lover, only to be betrayed when she is handed over to the Greek camp and yields to Diomede.
Paperback, 640 pages
Published September 25th 2003 by Penguin Classics (first published 1385)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Yani
Oct 25, 2012 Yani rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: medieval, universidad
Relectura agosto 2016

Algún envidioso podría chismorrear: "esto es un amor repentino, ¿cómo puede ser que ella ame a Troilo tan fácilmente, sólo a primera vista, pardiez?". Que quien hable así nunca prospere, pues todo debe tener un principio antes de estar hecho, sin ninguna duda.

Ah, peco de envidiosa entonces. Tengo ciertos reparos con esta historia, sobre todo cuando toca el tema relativo al amor en sí, así que seré breve e informal (léase: "con un tono inadecuado para libros tan importa
...more
David Sarkies
May 08, 2012 David Sarkies rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who love the classics
Recommended to David by: University
Shelves: poetry
A medieval romantic tale of love destroyed by war
18 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
...more
Roy Lotz
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
...more
Nikki
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
...more
Laura
Oct 13, 2013 Laura rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Bettie, Carey, Wanda
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. Inex
...more
Sam Hickey
Whenever anybody decides to refer to the Middle Ages as "The Dark Ages" in front of me, two things inevitably happen. Firstly, my eye starts twitching in frustration, and secondly, I refer them to this or any number of the spellbinding narratives penned during this so called "Age of Ignorance". Troilus and Criseyde has recently been added as one of my go to recommendations when confronted with this ignorance.

Having soldiered on and slowly worked my way through Chaucer's masterpiece in the origin
...more
Chris
Nov 25, 2010 Chris rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sarah
"And for to have of hem compassioun
As though I were hir owene brother dere.
Now herkeneth with a gode entencioun,
For now wol I gon streight to my matere,
In which ye may the double sorwes here
Of Troilus, in loving of Criesyde,
And how that she forsook him er she deyde."
-Book I

Some call Troilus and Criseyde Chaucer's best, most sophisticated work. I am not entirely sure where they're coming from when they say that. In comparison to The Canterbury Tales, this lengthy poem comes off to me as a bit st
...more
Samantha
Sep 18, 2011 Samantha rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
To be perfectly honest, I struggled to read this version. Not because I could not do it, but simply because it was tedious and I hated this version. Does it really hurt a story to translate the words to modern spelling? Some say yes, but I say no. Had I not spent the time seeking a version that was a simple update to modern spelling, I would have hated this story with every fiber of my being.

As it were, I actually loved this story. It started out funny, then it shifted to sweet and heartwarming,
...more
Matt
Aug 22, 2011 Matt rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Throughout almost the entire book, Troilus and Cressida appears to be the idealized courtly romantic poem. Though set in Troy during the Greek seige, Middle English notions of love and virtue dictate Troilus’ aspirations and Cressida’s coy rebuffs. Eventually, they find each other in love.

Then it gets interesting.

Betrayal and heartache guides Troilus into Chaucer’s main theme in the final pages. The games of love and human drama are all ultimately foolish and small-minded affairs. Life is wasted
...more
Nikki
Yes, another reread of this text, my third this semester. I don't think I'm going to want to read it for a long time after this, lovely as it is. I just can't seem to get to grips with it well enough to do my essay, so I just marathoned it, alongside Shakespeare and Dryden's versions.

I read mostly for Criseyde/Cressida's character, this time. I don't know quite what to make of it, actually: she is so virtuous, and we see her in so much detail for the first part of the story, but then we see her
...more
Bettie☯
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Charles
Many scholars believe 'Troilus and Criseyde' to be Chaucer's finest work. Nevill Coghill, the brilliant translator of my Penguins Classics edition, considers it to be "the most beautiful long poem in the English language". So, 'Troilus and Criseyde' has its fair share of acclaim, for sure.

However, after reading the poem for myself, I just had to write a review. It is so majestic, so different from Shakespeare's later adaptation, in a good way, so charming and elegant yet so profound and moving,
...more
A.J.
Dec 06, 2016 A.J. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a must-read for fans of the Iliad, of course. Inevitably, it's a tough read too. It's about how a youthful Trojan hero (Troilus) falls in love with a beautiful maiden (Criseyde) 'at first sight'. Criseyde's uncle is Panderus (from whose name we get the verb 'to pander'), and he manipulates events so that the two can be alone together. You see, the family fortunes of Criseyde and Panderus are in a terrible state, so an alliance with the royal Troilus will help to restore things greatly. B ...more
Garrett Cash
Troilus and Criseyde walks a very fine line between a farce and a tragic drama. What is so funny is how seriously the characters take their plight. Troilus is just absolutely pathetic. Criseyde never seems to really love the poor guy in the first place. It's an unfortunate situation. Troilus is willing to kill himself at the drop of a pin. The best parts are when Pandarus tells Troilus how ridiculous he's being. Yet all of the pains of love that Troilus goes through strike as very true. Chaucer' ...more
Robyn Blaber
Of course when you read an old book for the first time, you basically know what's going to happen. You can't finish Romeo and Juliet and wonder in astonishment why things didn't work out better. Here, Chaucer crafts the first "tragedy" in the English language and we're prepared for an unhappy ending. All I could do at the end was shake my head and say, "Women..."

I'm a great fan of Chaucer and this story has everything a fan would want. He waxes philosophically and struts his great literary knowl
...more
Draven
Oct 05, 2011 Draven rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wished I had reviewed this straight away after reading. My points of interest and disinterest would have been much fresher, but I'll aspire to recall my final thoughts on Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde.

To begin, no one should ever question Chaucer's poetic genius, I just think he excels slightly better in the comedy department. I know it's meant to be a melodramatic story, but at times either character got to be a bit...much. Especially Troilus. There were moments of brilliance, but in the end
...more
Nicholas
May 07, 2014 Nicholas rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An excellent epic poem by Chaucer, it is definitely heavy on philosophy and draws upon Boccaccio's Il Filostrato. The inevitable betrayal of Criseyde is set against Troilus's pathetic behavior towards everyone and everything. He disregards his duties as his thoughts are solely engaged on Criseyde, heightening her betrayal. It can be a drag at times, but I read the book in class with a medieval English literature professor. If you can take the time and read it in Middle English then wonders shall ...more
Robyn
Feb 15, 2016 Robyn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Proposed subtitle: "An Introduction to the two Most Immature, Selfish Characters Known to Man."
Xenia
Nov 11, 2014 Xenia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent!!!!!!!
Sam Pryce
Bored me to tears. Gave me headaches.
David
I would have given Troilus and Criseyde (translated by Nevill Coghill) four stars if the entire thing had been as good as Book 5. All the passion and pain of young love in the first four books was a bit wearing, but when [SPOILERS--stop reading now if you don't want the ending revealed] Criseyde betrays Troilus' love and is won over by the advances of Diomede (sic), things get a lot more interesting. I appreciated how skillfully Chaucer conveys Troilus' anxiety and self-deception as he waits for ...more
Christine

www.bbc.co.uk
*******************
Dramatisation of Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde.

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, Tro
...more
Bill
Jan 24, 2011 Bill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although often overlooked in favor of the massive Canterbury Tales, Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde nevertheless stands out in the tradition of medieval storytelling, a time when Homer's Iliad was known only to the most esoteric, and when the lines between philosophy, chivalry, and religion were decidedly blurred. Using texts by Boccaccio, Boethius, and Cappellanus as sources, and drawing from the best classical traditions, Chaucer weaves a tale of love and fortune during the Trojan war that has ...more
Heather
I'm not a huge fan of courtly love, so the obligatory wasting away over an inexplicable amorous desire made me skeptical at first. This was supposed to be Chaucer's greatest work? As I read deeper into the poem, though, I began to see: This is why it is Chaucer's greatest work. Chaucer simplifies things, then complicates them, then simplifies them all over again in a marvelous way. On the large scale, he takes us from the conventions of courtly love to a transcendent Christian view of our place ...more
Nikki
Mar 27, 2012 Nikki rated it really liked it
As with Shakespeare's version of this story, Chaucer deserves rereading, particularly if you're planning to write a 4,000 word paper on his version of Troilus and Criseyde. I've said pretty much all of what I want to say about his plot and characters in my original review, not so long ago, but it is interesting to read this again in light of having read Henryson and Shakespeare's work -- and in a different edition.

Barry Windeatt is, I gather, a pretty important scholar in this particular field.
...more
Dana
Jan 15, 2012 Dana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I honestly can't tell if Chaucer is a genius, or a crazy, crazy man. I did enjoy reading this book. I enjoyed my discussions of it even more. What I found most intriguing however is that the weepy, fall to the knees, don't know what to do character, was the male. Oh Trilous, how you so enjoyed to cry while your lover pretty much changed with the tide.

I have to say, that this book did have me worried a few times. I was afraid it was just another Romeo and Juliet but it turned out so much more. O
...more
Andrew Wright
Mar 29, 2013 Andrew Wright rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
Continuing my year of atonement. When I took Chaucer my last semester in college I was never assigned the entirety of Troilus and Criseyde or The Canterbury Tales.

Consequently, I enjoyed the Canterbury Tales much more than Troilus and Criseyde. I am now seeing why. Those pilgrims' stories can very easily be read individually. In fact, the book is already fragmentary. However, Troilus and Criseyde (I can now see) is very much an entire work.

One gets quite used to the Middle English and the strugg
...more
Erin
Jun 24, 2007 Erin is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
I bought a used copy of Philip Krapp's translation of Chaucer's Troilus and Cressida in late May and promptly set to reading it. Unfortunately, the copy I found was perhaps a bit too used. When the book split in half I kept reading, managing to reach the halfway point before it split yet again. However, when I began losing individual pages I decided to give it a rest. I still haven't gotten around to getting a more well preserved copy of the text, but I'm certain I will before long. Thus far I c ...more
CMTN
Jun 28, 2014 CMTN rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Like Chaucer's Dream Visions, I did thoroughly enjoy it - save for the time-consuming translation aspect from Middle English to something I could understand. However, if I had the choice between Troilus and Criseyde and Dream Visions, I'd most likely choose Dream Visions every single time.

That isn't to say that this wasn't worth the read, but perhaps I wanted something more than Troilus' pining and this constant struggle between private and public matters. I felt that the first four books focuse
...more
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1838
Geoffrey Chaucer (c. 1343 – October 25, 1400?) was an English author, poet, philosopher, bureaucrat, courtier and diplomat. Although he wrote many works, he is best remembered for his unfinished frame narrative The Canterbury Tales. Sometimes called the father of English literature, Chaucer is credited by some scholars as being the first author to demonstrate the artistic legitimacy of the vernacu ...more
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“Thus in this heaven he took his delight And smothered her with kisses upon kisses Till gradually he came to know where bliss is.” 3 likes
“For thus men seyth, "That on thenketh the beere,
But al another thenketh his ledere.”
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