Item description for Troilus & Cressida (Arden Shakespeare: Third Series) by David Bevington William Shakespeare...
This volume offers the most comprehensive and critically up-to-date edition of Troilus and Cressida available today. Bevington's learned and engaging introduction discusses the ambivalent status and genre of the play, variously presented in its early printing as a comedy, a history and a tragedy. He examines and assimilates the wide variety of critical responses the play has elicited, and argues its importance in today's culture as an experimental and open-ended work. He also, however, suggests that this experimentalism may have contributed to its lack of immediate stage success, and goes on to place the work in its late Elizabethan context of political instability and theatrical rivalry. A thorough performance history focuses chiefly on recent productions. The complex text situation is re-examined and the differing textual readings carefully explicated. 'Bevington's edition is so clearly the best now available that it will no doubt quickly become standard practice for all study of this remarkable play to begin with this remarkable edition.' Eric Rasmussen, University of Nevada at Reno, Shakespeare Survey
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.06" Width: 5.32" Height: 1.08" Weight: 1.33 lbs.
Release Date Aug 20, 1998
ISBN 1903436702 ISBN13 9781903436707
Reviews - What do customers think about Troilus & Cressida (Arden Shakespeare: Third Series)?
Good but not great Jun 29, 2008
I purchased this edition for a class. While the quality of the binding, layout of the actual play, typeface, etc. are solid and what I expected for the price and the type of book I was purchasing (paperback); the introduction is disappointing. Extensively written and extremely boring, it made me want to give up on the book altogether before I even began reading the play (and I'm a Shakespeare fan!). The author brings up multiple interpretations by others as validation for his views, but also takes pains to point out why all the other interpretations aren't as good as his own. This introduction is detailed and not intended for anyone but Shakespeare scholars. For someone who has studied Shakespeare's life and era in the past, this edition will provide lots of information connecting and comparing this play to what you already know and can be very educational.
The Bard's Blackest Comedy: X-Rated, Post-Nietzschean Shakespeare Aug 1, 2007
I know readers who claim to prefer this play to Chaucer's "Troilus and Criseyde"--which tells you something either about their inability to read Chaucer or their jaded sense of humor. Shakespeare's version of the story is every bit as dark and sardonic as Chaucer's is light and satiric. In fact, this must be the Bard's blackest comedy, too strained, disconnected, and unfocused to pass muster as "tragedy." In fact, if we take seriously Ulysses' oft-quoted speech on "degree" (accepting one's limits as a requirement for cosmic order) and Troilus' confirmation of an up-ended moral universe ("the bonds of heaven have slipped!"), there's no longer room for the heroic or tragic in the modern world Shakespeare has created in this play.
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. The textual version is necessarily five stars because nothing can touch Shakespeare (except perhaps in this case Chaucer). Still it's a good thing that the guardians of public morality aren't better readers or this one might not make the cut in some venues where Shakespeare is performed. In fact, that situation could soon change if acting companies continue to substitute for Shakespeare's language gross and attention-getting stage antics, using the master wordsmith as a license for selling sensation.
A Bit Long, But Still Good. Jul 15, 2006
The first thing you will probably notice about this play is that it seems longer than his other plays. But if we are willing to look past this, it is a rather good play that explores the theme that personal dissension is the root of chaos and the unreliability of romantic love. This play deals with the last stage of the Trogan War. It begins with Trojan Troilus expressing his love for Cressida to her uncle Pandarus. Pandarus (who for now is Cressida's guardian) consents to Troilus's quest. In the next scene, Cressida will not admit to her uncle Pandarus that she likes Troilus, but she later reveals to us she does. (Some nice comedy.) 1.3 is a rather well drawn scene where the Greek King Agamemnon is frustrated because Greece has not been able to defeat Troy after all this time. Part of the reason may be civil dissension in Greece. The Greek warrior Achilles is more after his own glory than performing his duties. Because of this, when an invitation to fight Hector to decide the outcome comes, Agamemnon chooses the less able, but more modest Ajax. Onto Act 2. Act 2 Scene 2 emphasizes the theme of this play yet again. Priam and Hector honestly feel that the Trojans should just give back Helen to the Greeks and end all this. It makes sense does it not? But Troilus (like Romeo) is a romantic and not a rationalist, and he persuades Priam and Hector to hold onto Helen. (By the way, we can forget about any valuable input from Helen. She shows herself to be an airhead. Or as the great Isaac Asimov puts it: "She appears as a vain, silly woman with an empty head unaware (or uncaring about) what she has caused, and incapable, apparently, of making an intelligent remark." Onto Act 3. Troilus and Cressida confess their love for each other, and for now they are happy. (Along with Cressida's uncle Pandarus.) But this is not to last. Cressida's father (of Greece) wants his daughter Cressida back and Agamemnon is willing to give Troy back their Anteor in return. Agamemnon continues to show contempt for Achilles and his swollen ego, and there is a comical scene where everyone ignores Achilles. The less effective but more modest Ajax continues to win praise. Onto Act 4. 4.2 has the sad scene where Troilus and Cressida realize that they must part, but with a gleam of hope, Troilus plans to see Cressida behind enemy lines. The parting in 4.4 is well drawn. Onto the battle between Hector and Ajax. It takes place, and the battle ends with the 2 praising each other with respect. Perhaps things can even come to a peaceful conclusion, but Achilles and Hector express their contempt for each other, and peace looks less likely. Onto Act 5. Troilus sneaks behind enemy lines to see Cressida, but to make a long story short, he sees that she no longer feels anything for him. Troilus leaves in a bitter rage. (Such is a short romance.) Act 5.3 is a memorable scene where Hector's wife tries to convince Hector to stay home, but like Calpurnia, she can not convince Caesar to stay home. (Even when Hector's father and sister try to help.) And now, the fire flies. War breaks out. The balance of power swings back and forth. Hector kills Achilles's friend Patroclus and when Hector's vanity leaves him vulnerable, Achilles kills Hector in a less than honorable fashion. Troilus survives, but he fears with the loss of Hector, Troy will fall. If you like this story, you may wish to read Marlowe's "Dido Queen of Carthage." That play focuses on Aeneas and the surviving Trojans as they plot their next move.
The most unsung, but perhaps the most modern, of Shakespeare Mar 11, 2002
One of his lesser known works, Shakespeare's Trojan play is also one of his most intriguing. Not quite a burlesque, 'Troilus and Cressida''s lurches in tone, from farce to historical drama to romance to tragedy, and its blurring of these modes, explains why generations of critics and audiences have found it so unsatisfying, and why today it can seem so modern. Its disenchanted tone, its interest in the baser human instincts underlying (classical) heroism look forward to such 20th century works as Giraudoux's 'The Trojan War Will Not Take Place' or Terry Jones' 'Chaucer's Knight'; the aristocratic ideals of Love and War, inextricably linked in this play, are debased by the merchant-class language of exchange, trade, food, possesion - the passionate affair at its centre is organised by the man who gave his name to pimps, Pandarus, and is more concerned with immediate sexual gratification than anything transcendental. The Siege of Troy sequences are full of the elaborately formal rhetoric we expect from Shakespeare's history plays, but well-wrought diplomacy masks ignoble trickery; the great heroes Ajax and Achilles are petulant egotists, the latter preferring the company of his catamite to combat; the actual war sequences, when they finally come, are a breathless farce of exits and entrances. There are a lot of words in this play, but very few deeds.
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. While Paris wallows in luxury with his prize, his youngest brother Troilus uses Pandarus as a go-between to arrange a night of love with his niece, Cressida. When one of the Trojan leaders is taken prisoner by the Greeks, the ransom price is Cressida.
There is only one character in 'Troilus' who can be said to be at all noble and not self-interested, the eldest Trojan prince Hector, who, despite his odd interpreation of the quality 'honour', detests a meaningless war, and tries to spare as many of his enemies' lives as he can. He is clearly an anachronism, however, and his ignoble slaughter at the hands of a brutal gang suggests what price chivalry. Perhaps the most recognisable character is Thirsitis, the most savagely cynical of his great Fools. Imagine Falstaff without the redeeming lovability - he divests heroes and events of their false values, satirises motivations, abuses his dim-witted 'betters' and tries to preserve his life at any cost. Written in between 'Hamlet' and 'All's Well That Ends Well', 'Troilus' bears all the marks of Shakespeare's mid-period: the contrapuntal structure, the dense figures, the audacious neologisms, and the intitially deferred, accelerated action. If some of the diplomacy scenes are too efective in their parodic pastiche of classical rhetoric, and slow things down, Act 5 is an amazing dramatic rush, crowning the play's disenchantment with love (with an extraordinarily creepy three-way spaying of an infidelity) and war.
The New Penguin Shakespeare is the most accessible and user-friendly edition for students and the general reader (although it does need updating). Unlike the Oxford or Arden series, which offer unwieldy introductions (yawning with irrelevant conjecture about dates and sources) and unusable notes (clotted with tedious pedantry more concerned with fighting previous commentators than elucidating Shakespeare), the Penguin's format offers a clear Introduction dealing with the play and its contexts, an appendix 'An Account of the Text', and functional endnotes that gloss unfamiliar words and difficult passages. The Introduction is untainted by fashions in Critical Theory, but is particularly good at explaining the role of Time ('When time is old and hath forgot itself...And blind oblivion swallowed cities up'), the shifting structure, the multiple viewpoints in presenting characters, and Shakespeare's use of different literary and linguistic registers.
A Tragedy, and a good one Dec 22, 2001
Troilus and Cressida is one of Shakespear`s many romances, and, like most of his romances, is a tragedy. Since time immemorial, Shakespears` works have been used as plays, literature and (least often) just casual reading. While Troilus and Cressida is one of the less known plays, it is no less a good one. It is based in Troy(as the name might imply)during the much renowned Trojan War. The valiant Troilus, son of the Trojan king is enamoured of Cressida, also of Troy. Meanwhile, the Greek hosts have laid siege to the city, and the warrior Achilles refuses to fight, encouraging further interaction between the two sides. Cressida, however, is the daughter of a Greek sympathizer(if that is the correct word)and may not be able to honour her commitment to the Trojan prince...