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Troilus and Criseyde : the poem and the frame

Author: Allen J Frantzen
Publisher: New York : Twayne ; Toronto : Maxwell Macmillan Canada ; New York : Maxwell Macmillan International, ©1993.
Series: Twayne's masterwork studies, no. 113.
Edition/Format:   Print book : EnglishView all editions and formats
Database:WorldCat
Summary:
If "variety distinguishes Chaucer's handling of his materials," as Allen J. Frantzen writes his preface to this volume, it also distinguishes Frantzen's handling of his materials - the contents and contexts of Troilus and Criseyde. Of the few available introductory studies on Chaucer's poem, fewer still accommodate the multiplicity of ideas at play both within the text and among the various interpretations of it
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Additional Physical Format: Online version:
Frantzen, Allen J., 1947-
Troilus and Criseyde.
New York : Twayne ; Toronto : Maxwell Macmillan Canada ; New York : Maxwell Macmillan International, ©1993
(OCoLC)609541398
Online version:
Frantzen, Allen J., 1947-
Troilus and Criseyde.
New York : Twayne ; Toronto : Maxwell Macmillan Canada ; New York : Maxwell Macmillan International, ©1993
(OCoLC)624408194
Named Person: Geoffrey Chaucer; Geoffrey Chaucer
Material Type: Internet resource
Document Type: Book, Internet Resource
All Authors / Contributors: Allen J Frantzen
ISBN: 0805794271 9780805794274 0805785817 9780805785814
OCLC Number: 27010679
Description: xiv, 158 pages ; 23 cm.
Contents: chronology: Chaucer's life and works --
Literary and Historical Context. 1. Social Text, Historical Context. 2. The Importance of the Work. 3. Critical Reception and the History of the Work --
A Reading. 4. Looking through and at the Frame. 5. Past and Present: Book 1 and the Narrator. 6. Coming Together: Book 2 and Pandarus. 7. Falling in Place: Book 3 and Boethius. 8. Coming Apart: Book 4 and the War. 9. Lost in Space: Book 5 and Fate. 10. Criseyde and Troilus.
Series Title: Twayne's masterwork studies, no. 113.
Responsibility: Allen J. Frantzen.

Abstract:

If "variety distinguishes Chaucer's handling of his materials," as Allen J. Frantzen writes his preface to this volume, it also distinguishes Frantzen's handling of his materials - the contents and contexts of Troilus and Criseyde. Of the few available introductory studies on Chaucer's poem, fewer still accommodate the multiplicity of ideas at play both within the text and among the various interpretations of it that have fallen in and out of vogue since the work first appeared in medieval London. Troilus and Criseyde's story of failed love amid the ruins of war often yields discussion of the traditions of courtly love and other nuances of medieval aristocratic and intellectual life. Frantzen, offering a complex analysis of the narrative that asks readers to grapple with its social, sexual, philosophical, and even comedic motifs, challenges many preconceived ideas about medieval culture and about Chaucer as its chief spokesman.

The device Frantzen uses to focus on the poem from so many perspectives is the frame. The textual frame delineates the reader's view of a narrative "exactly as a visual frame encloses a picture," Frantzen writes. "History has placed many frames around Troilus and Criseyde, and Chaucer has placed many frames within the poem as a means of structuring his complex plot. To concentrate on the frame is not to forget the text but is rather to ask how and where we see its edges, its openings, its points of contact with the world around it."

In the early chapters of this volume Frantzen presents many of the almost innumerable and sometimes contradictory frames that Chaucer and history have provided: Troilus and Criseyde as tragedy, as comedy, as philosophy; as tale of the inevitable failure of romantic love, of betrayal, of morality, of Christian piety, of the evils of fallen womanhood, of the evils of men's victimization of women. For the balance of the study Frantzen offers his own close reading of the poem, regarding each of its five books from a distinct, though not exclusive, frame of reference: the narrator; Pandarus, Troilus's influential friend; love; war; and fate.

Unlike the buoyantly optimistic Canterbury Tales, Troilus and Criseyde offers a pessimistic view of the world. Yet it should not be viewed as secondary to its more popular successor, says Frantzen. This often dark, highly compressed story of human fallibility has been taken up by one generation of readers after another, each finding in it a relevant message. Frantzen encourages contemporary readers to join the long tradition of framing and reframing the poem, isolating the values they wish to attach to it: "To frame and reframe is to demystify a work and its critical tradition without degrading the history of either or arguing for or against the work's status as a 'classic.'.

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