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Troilus and Cressida (Signet Classics) Mass Market Paperback – August 1, 2002

ISBN-13: 978-0451528476 ISBN-10: 0451528476 Edition: Revised

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Signet Classics; Revised edition (August 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451528476
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451528476
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 4.2 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #54,660 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

'I commend this new edition particularly for the introductory sections.' Shakespeare at the Centre Magazine

'... fine new edition ...Anthony B. Dawson's readable and reliable text, together with his excellent explanatory footnotes and his superb discussion of theatrical adaptations of the play, will make this edition a valuable resource for scholars as well as an attractive text for classroom use.' Shakespeare Quarterly --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

Troilus and Cressida, long considered one of Shakespeare's most problematic plays, is both difficult and fascinating. Largely neglected during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries it has recently proved popular and rewarding on the stage as well as in the study. In this edition, Dawson views the play from a performance perspective--both in the commentary as well as in the detailed section on stage history in the introduction. His textual choices are often surprising but at the same time carefully grounded. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Wanda B. Red VINE VOICE on June 13, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Amazon seems to be including all the reviews of different editions and translations of Chaucer's "Troilus and Criseyde" on the same page. If you read the reviews here you will be very confused. Some refer to an original language edition (either the one made by R. A. Shoaf or Stephen Barney's Norton Critical edition), and some refer to a translation, at least one to the translation done by Nevill Coghill. The reader needs to pay careful attention to what edition is actually on the screen when making a selection.

If you want to read the original text, I would recommend Stephen Barney's edition. Barney is the editor who made the critical edition for the Riverside Chaucer, and his Norton Critical edition includes ten excellent critical essays in addition to Chaucer's poem, Giovanni Boccaccio's "Il Filostrato" (Chaucer's source), and Robert Henryson's "Testament of Crisseid." Shoaf's edition is also good, but twice as expensive, and it does not have as much contextual material. Coghill is a fine translator of Chaucer, and for the reader who does not want to tackle the Middle English he will provide an adequate experience. But beware: His smooth couplets sound more like Alexander Pope than the vigorous medieval writer he is translating.
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29 of 33 people found the following review helpful By tepi on July 8, 2001
Format: Paperback
CHAUCER : TROILUS AND CRISEYDE. Translated into Modern English by Nevill Coghill. 332 pp. New York : Viking Press, 1995 (Reissue). ISBN: 0140442391 (pbk.)
Nevill Coghill's brilliant modern English translation of Chaucer's 'The Canterbury Tales' has always been a bestseller and it's easy to understand why. Chaucer was an intensely human writer and a great comic artist, but besides the ribaldry and sheer good fun of 'The Canterbury Tales,' we also know he was capable of other things. His range was wide, and the striking thing about Coghill's translations are how amazingly faithful they are to the spirit of the originals - at times bawdy and hilariously funny, at other times more serious and moving when Chaucer shifts to a more poignant mode as in 'Troilus and Criseyde.'
But despite the brilliance of Coghill's translations, and despite the fact that they remain the best possible introduction to Chaucer for those who don't know Middle English, those who restrict themselves to Coghill are going to miss a lot - such readers are certainly going to get the stories, but they're going to lose much of the beauty those stories have in the original language. The difference is as great as that between a black-and-white movie and technicolor.
Chaucer's Middle English _looks_ difficult to many, and I think I know why. It _looks_ difficult because that in fact is what people are doing, they are _looking_ at it, they are reading silently and trying to take it in through the eye. This is a recipe for instant frustration and failure. But fortunately there is a quick and easy remedy.
So much of Chaucer's power is in the sheer music of his lines, and in their energy and thrust. He was writing when English was at its most masculine and vigorous.
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31 of 36 people found the following review helpful By darragh o'donoghue on March 11, 2002
Format: Paperback
One of his lesser known works, Shakespeare's Trojan play is also one of his most intriguing. Not quite a burlesque, 'Troilus and Cressida''s lurches in tone, from farce to historical drama to romance to tragedy, and its blurring of these modes, explains why generations of critics and audiences have found it so unsatisfying, and why today it can seem so modern. Its disenchanted tone, its interest in the baser human instincts underlying (classical) heroism look forward to such 20th century works as Giraudoux's 'The Trojan War Will Not Take Place' or Terry Jones' 'Chaucer's Knight'; the aristocratic ideals of Love and War, inextricably linked in this play, are debased by the merchant-class language of exchange, trade, food, possesion - the passionate affair at its centre is organised by the man who gave his name to pimps, Pandarus, and is more concerned with immediate sexual gratification than anything transcendental. The Siege of Troy sequences are full of the elaborately formal rhetoric we expect from Shakespeare's history plays, but well-wrought diplomacy masks ignoble trickery; the great heroes Ajax and Achilles are petulant egotists, the latter preferring the company of his catamite to combat; the actual war sequences, when they finally come, are a breathless farce of exits and entrances. There are a lot of words in this play, but very few deeds.
Paris, Prince of Troy, has abducted Helen, wife of Menelaus, King of Sparta. Led by the latter's brother Agamemnon, and his Machiavellian advisors Ulysses and Nestor, the Greeks besiege Troy, demanding the return of Helen. However, Achilles' dissatisfaction at the generals' endless politicking has spread discontent in the ranks. Within Troy, war takes a distinct second place to matters of the heart.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I know readers who claim to prefer this play to Chaucer's "Troilus and Criseyde"--which tells you something either about their inability to read Chaucer or their jaded sense of humor. Shakespeare's version of the story is every bit as dark and sardonic as Chaucer's is light and satiric. In fact, this must be the Bard's blackest comedy, too strained, disconnected, and unfocused to pass muster as "tragedy." In fact, if we take seriously Ulysses' oft-quoted speech on "degree" (accepting one's limits as a requirement for cosmic order) and Troilus' confirmation of an up-ended moral universe ("the bonds of heaven have slipped!"), there's no longer room for the heroic or tragic in the modern world Shakespeare has created in this play.

Despite containing some of the playwright's most memorable and eloquent speeches, it's the cynical tone and absurdist context, not story or character, that we remember from the play. Somewhat like Hitchcock in "Rear Window," Shakespeare places the reader in the position of deviant-voyeur, subjecting him to both the testimony and proof of Thersites' recurring reminder that, where heroism and love are concerned, all is "war and lechery." If we decide to stay the course, we're rewarded at play's end with Pandarus's speech to the audience, promising to bequeath us with "his diseases." It's shocking that Shakespeare got away with such material in a pre-penicillin era, but no less noteworthy is the audience's masochistic compliance (in itself, a potential commentary on the degradation that Shakespeare forcefully exposes and criticizes in this play).

The play often scores with modern audiences because productions opportunistically go "over the top" with exaggerated visual and verbal bawdry.
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