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Geoffrey Chaucer’s most significant literary accomplishment may well be Troilus and Criseyde, a single, profoundly philosophical narrative of a tragic love affair. Set in ancient Troy and telling the story of the rise and fall, in love and war, of the prince Troilus, Troilus and Criseyde is an archetypal medieval romance. The widowed Criseyde is a powerful woman, complex and intelligent, and the naïve Troilus is ambushed by his overwhelming love for her; Pandarus, Troilus’s friend and the enabler of the couple’s love, provides comic relief. Chaucer used his familiarity with the works of Giovanni Boccaccio and Benoit de St. Maure to build his own historical world, depicting pagan beliefs and myths with sympathy and imagination.
This edition is based on the Corpus Christi College Cambridge manuscript of Troilus and Criseyde; as with Robert Boenig and Andrew Taylor’s Broadview Edition ofThe Canterbury Tales, the manuscript text is preserved as much as possible and the original Middle English text is used. Difficult words are conveniently glossed in the margins, and explanatory footnotes help with references and allusions.