Geoffrey Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde

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  • Topic: Geoffrey Chaucer, Troilus and Criseyde, Medieval literature
  • Pages : 8 (2346 words )
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  • Published : April 28, 2001
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Table of Contents

The Age of Chaucer...............................2
Troilus and Criseyde.............................5
Characterization in Boccaccio and in Chaucer.....6
The Tenour of Medieval Life......................7
Courtly Love.....................................9
(I,69,3-5) Introduction

This present work is based on one of Chaucer's great poems, Troilus and Criseyde. It deals with its origin, its characteristics and the idea of courtly love in it. Everything is considered from a historical and literary point of view. It includes some information about the author himself and his art which I consider essential to the understanding of the poem.

The Age of Chaucer

Historical Background

Throughout the Dark Ages, the Middle Ages, and the early Renaissance, we can trace, in the rise and fall of national literatures, the successions of war and peace which made the development of Europe so difficult and so uneven. Besides wars and crusades, there were other convulsions quite as grievous: for instance, the Black Death, which killed hundreds of people. The Danish conquest, first, and then the Norman conquest had virtually taken Britain out of the current of European literature while French, and Provençal, and Italian literature were building up. Now, in the fourteenth century, French literature almost died away because France was caught in the Hundred Year War. Italian literature had begun its mighty ascent, and continued with Petrarch and Boccaccio . Provençal culture was almost totally destroyed in the crusade preached against the Albigensian heretics by the Roman Catholic Church. Although England too had its plages and troubles in this same century, it developed a character which it has never yet lost, and which was best exemplified, for this time, in Geoffrey Chaucer, the Father of English Poetry.

Geoffrey Chaucer (1340?-1400)

The greatest poet of the Middle English period was the son of a wealthy wine-merchant of powerful connections. As a boy he was a page to the Countess of Ulster, and later was employed as a valet in the Royal household. In 1359, serving with the English army in France, he was taken prisoner and King Edward III subscribed £16 upon the payment of his ransom. Thereafter he spent many years in the service of his king. In 1372-3 he was sent to Genoa on a commercial mission; in 1374 he was appointed Comptroller of the Customs for the Port of London; in 1385 he was appointed Justice of the Peace for Kent; and in 1386 he was elected Member of Parliament. His last years were spent at Greenwich, where he died in 1400. He was the first poet to be buried in what is now known as Poet's Corner in Westminster Abbey.

His Art

Chaucer's public career must have greatly enriched his observation and his stock of ideas. In Italy, he found himself in the midst of the flourishing Renaissance. Thus, he developed into a pre-Renaissance writer addressing a medieval English audience. His works are conventionally divided into three chronological groups; his French period (to 1372), his Italian period (1372-1385) and his English period (1385-1400). In his French period, he wrote The Book of the Duchess and translated a large fragment of Le Roman de la Rose,by Guillaumi de Lorris and Jean de Meung. In his Italian period, when Chaucer exhibits the influence of the great Italian writers, namely Boccaccio, he wrote The House of Fame, The Parliament of Fowls, Troilus and Criseyde and The Legend of Good Women. The Canterbury Tales and a few shorter poems comprise Chaucer's English period. He was a man of wide learning and wrote with ease on religion, philosophy, ethics, science, rethoric. Master of verse as Chaucer was, he introduced into English poetry many verse forms: the heroic couplet, the rhyme...
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