Troilus and Criseyde

"Troilus and Criseyde" (circa 1380-87) is Geoffrey Chaucer's poem in rhyme royal ("rime royale") re-telling the tragic love story of Troilus, a Trojan prince, and Criseyde. Scholarly consensus is that Chaucer completed Troilus and Criseyde by the mid 1380's. Many Chaucer scholars regard this as his best work, even including the better known but incomplete "Canterbury Tales."

"Troilus and Criseyde" is an example of a courtly romance, and although it does contain many common features of the genre, generic classification is an area of significant debate in most Middle English literature. The character Troilus is mentioned once in Homer as a valiant son of Priam who died in combat, but the actual story is of Medieval origins and first written by Benoît de Sainte-Maure in his poem "Roman de Troie"; Boccaccio re-wrote the story in his "Il Filostrato" which in turn was Chaucer's main source. Shakespeare's "Troilus and Cressida" was based in part on Chaucer's poem. The poem was continued by Robert Henryson in his "Testament of Cresseid" wherein Henryson, displeased by Chaucer's rather humane treatment of Criseyde, is determined to punish her more openly for her unfaithfulness.

The relationship between Chaucer's "Troilus" and his source material ("Il Filostrato") is discussed extensively by C. S. Lewis in "The Allegory of Love". Briefly, Chaucer's poem reflects a less cynical and less misogynistic world-view than Boccaccio's; his Pandarus is well-intentioned and his Criseyde sincere but fearful, rather than simply fickle. The sadness of the story is also lightened by humour.

Further reading

*Boitani, Piero and Jill Mann. "The Cambridge Companion to Chaucer". 2nd ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003.
*Brown, Peter, ed. "A Companion to Chaucer". Oxford: Blackwell, 2000.
*Dinshaw, Carolyn. "Chaucer's Sexual Poetics". Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1989.
*Fradenburg, L. O. Aranye. "Sacrifice Your Love: Psychoanalysis, Historicism, Chaucer". Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2002.
*Hansen, Elaine Tuttle. "Chaucer and the Fictions of Gender". Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992.
*Mann, Jill. "Feminizing Chaucer". 2nd ed. Rochester, NY: D.S. Brewer, 2002.
*McAlpine, Monica. "The Genre of Troilus and Criseyde". Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1978.
*Patterson, Lee. "Chaucer and the Subject of History". Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1991.
*Robinson, Ian. "Chaucer and the English Tradition". Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1972.
*Robinson, Ian. "Chaucer's Prosody: A Study of the Middle English Verse Tradition". Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1971.
*Strohm, Paul. "Social Chaucer". Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1989.
*Wallace, David. " Chaucerian polity: Absolutist Lineages and Associational Forms in England and Italy". Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1997.

External links

* [http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A1054027 "Troilus and Criseyde"]
* [http://www.umm.maine.edu/faculty/necastro/chaucer/tr Modern Prose Translation of and Other Resources on Troilus and Criseyde at eChaucer]


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