Cover

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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. 1-6

Contents

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pp. 7-8

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Preface

Winthrop Wetherbee

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pp. 9-12

This book argues that Chaucer's Troilus is a major statement about poetic tradition. Chaucer, who was remarkable in his early and profound appreciation of the achievement of Dante, shared Dante's sense of the special excellence of the classical Latin poets, Vergil, Ovid, and Statius. Like Dante, he recognized that classical poetry presented an authoritative view of human...

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A Note on Texts

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pp. 13-16

All quotations from the Troilus are from the edition of R. K. Root, The Book of Troilus and Criseyde (Princeton University Press, Princeton, N.]., 1926). For Vergil I have used the Oxford Classical Texts edition of R. A. B. Mynors (Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1969); for Ovid, the Budé edition of the Metamorphoses, ed. Georges Lafaye, 3 vols. (Les Belles Lettres, Paris, 1928-30); for Statius...

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Introduction

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pp. 17-29

As the narrator of Chaucer's Troilus seeks to conclude his poem, he is anxious to preserve the decorum of his courtly love story yet increasingly aware that there is more to be said than its conventional limits will allow him to express. The question what human love is and means arises with a new urgency as the moment for separating from Troilus draws nearer, and the final portions...

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1. The Narrator, Troilus, and the Poetic Agenda

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pp. 30-52

The importance of the classical tradition for the Troilus and the complexity of the poet's engagement with that tradition are evident from the opening lines of the poem. The narrator begins with a solemn and sweeping statement of his theme, defining the noble status of his hero and the outlines of his tragedy:...

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2. Love Psychology: The Troilus and the Roman de la Rose

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pp. 53-86

In the course of unfolding the story of the lovers and their narrator, the Troilus appropriates to its own design the greatest of earlier medieval poetry. Its allusive range extends from the minutiae of Ovidian love lore to the great confrontation at the summit of Dante's Purgatory, and for a brief moment Chaucer uses the language of Paradise to express the joy of love. But the Troilus is also...

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3. History versus the Individual: Vergil and Ovid in the Troilus

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pp. 87-110

Despite Chaucer's close and many-sided relationship with Boccaccio, Guillaume, and Jean de Meun, the Troilus is clearly a very different poem from the Filostrato or the Roman. Chaucer accepts their view of the social and psychological realities of human life and human love, and much in the Troilus is a variation on their treatment of the interplay of idealist and materialist...

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4. Thebes and Troy: Statius and Dante's Statius

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pp. 111-144

At first sight there would seem to be no question about the importance of Statius for the Troilus. References to Thebes and its ill-fated rulers are strewn through the poem, culminating in the summary of the Thebaid itself, which is the centerpiece of Cassandre's speech to Troilus in Book 5. From the outset, as we have seen, the challenge facing Chaucer's narrator is defined in terms...

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5. Dante and the Troilus

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pp. 145-178

In comparison to the obliqueness and ambiguity of Chaucer's use of classical sources in the Troilus, the most striking characteristics of his allusions to Dante are their directness, boldness, and prominence. The Troilus begins and ends with allusions to the Commedia; a quotation from the climactic prayer of the Paradiso marks the high point of Troilus's ecstasy in Book 3, and many details invite us to...

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6. Character and Action: Criseyde and the Narrator

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pp. 179-204

It is clear that the reading of the Troilus implied by the patterns of allusion I have traced in the preceding chapters places a radical emphasis on Troilus's experience as the poem's central concern. It is he to whom love happens, he who experiences it as the descent of a divine force and in whose sensibility its effects are realized in their full complexity. It is as his story that the action of the poem...

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7. Troilus Alone

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pp. 205-223

With the falling away of the other characters and the increasing demoralization of the narrator in Books 4 and 5, Troilus comes at last to stand alone. This chapter will trace the major stages of Troilus's experience in the last two books of the poem. From the point at which he first responds to the prospect of losing Criseyde by rehearsing imaginatively a life and afterlife of solitary...

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8. The Ending of the Troilus

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pp. 224-244

I have suggested that it is Troilus whose unfulfilled passion impels the narrator and his story forward in the closing portion of the poem. But perhaps it would be equally appropriate to say that he is guided by providence. I began this essay by comparing the enterprise of the final stanzas to that of Chaueer's House of Fame, and at first sight the situation of the Troilus narrator at this stage...

Index

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pp. 245-249