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Troilus and Criseyde (Penguin Classics) Paperback – April 30, 1971
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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.
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
My twelve year old son has really enjoyed reading all of Shakespeare's plays... thank you.Published 3 months ago by SB
Have just received this, but like the Norton selection of Canterbury Tales that precedes it, it glosses difficult words of Chaucer's English directly opposite each line. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Felix Braendel
The biggest reason to choose The Penguin Shakespeare edition of “Troilus and Cressida” is for the editor’s devastating and insightful commentary on the play. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Ricardo Mio
I am now halfway through reading the full Shakespeare oeuvre, but I’ll have to admit that, out of nineteen plays, Troilus and Cressida has been my least favorite. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Oddsfish
What a great way to get extra help in understanding this specific story.Published 13 months ago by Lucia Luckett-Kelly
I am not rating the play, but rather this supposedly annotated edition. It ISN'T annotated - there are no notes whatsoever. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Pamela Bronson
Chaucer's masterpiece is translated into colorfully beautiful prose, which brings this literary classic a greater appeal to a more modern audience.Published 18 months ago by Thomas Koron
Nevill Coghill's modern English translation of Chaucer's epic poem of the 14th century is an exercise in 800-year-old art appreciation made easy. Read morePublished on February 4, 2014 by Bill Slocum