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Troilus And Criseyde
by Geoffrey Chaucer
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?Chaucer?s greatest poem.??C. S. Lewis
The tragedy of Troilus and Criseyde is one of the greatest narrative poems in English literature. Set during the siege of Troy, it tells how the young knight Troilus, son of King Priam, falls in love with Criseyde, a beautiful widow. Brought together by Criseydes uncle, Pandarus, the lovers are then forced apart by the events of war, which test their oaths of fidelity and trust to the limits. Described by editor Barry Windeatt as Chaucers most ambitious single achievement, his masterpiece, Troilus and Criseyde is the first work in English to depict human passion with such sympathy and understanding.
Text: English (translation)
The Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature
Tragic verse romance by Geoffrey Chaucer, composed in the 1380s and considered by some critics to be his finest work. The plot of this 8,239-line poem was taken largely from Giovanni Boccaccio's Il filostrato. It recounts the love story of Troilus, son of the Trojan king Priam, and Criseyde, widowed daughter of the deserter priest Calchas. The poem moves in leisurely fashion, with introspection and much of what would now be called psychological insight dominating many sections. Aided by Criseyde's uncle Pandarus, Troilus and Criseyde are united in love about halfway through the poem, but then she is sent to join her father in the Greek camp outside Troy. Despite her promise to return, she is loved by the Greek warrior Diomedes and comes to love him. Troilus, left in despair, is killed in the Trojan War. These events are interspersed with Boethian discussion of free will and determinism and the direct comments of the narrator. At the end of the poem, when Troilus' soul rises into the heavens, the folly of complete immersion in sexual love is viewed in relation to the eternal love of God.
From the Inside Flap
Often called the first great English novel, Troilus and Cressida, a tragic love story set during the siege of Troy, is Chaucer's masterpiece. Troilus, a valiant warrior, is scornful of love until he catches a glimpse of Cressida. With the help of his friend and her uncle Pandarus, Troilus wins Cressida over. But their happiness is destroyed when, summoned to a Greek camp, Cressida seeks the protection of one Diomede and ultimately betrays Troilus.
From the Back Cover
“Chaucer’s greatest poem.”—C. S. Lewis
About the Author
Geoffrey Chaucer (c. 13421400) was born in London, the son of a wine merchant, and spent his life in royal and government service. His literary work, notable for its range of genres, helped establish the English literary tradition.
Barry Windeatt is a professor of English at the University of Cambridge and a fellow of Emmanuel College, Cambridge. He translated The Book of Margery Kempe for Penguin Classics.
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