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Troilus and Cressida by William Shakespeare
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Troilus and Cressida (edition 2012)

by William Shakespeare

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1,307185,970 (3.35)44
Member:amerynth
Title:Troilus and Cressida
Authors:William Shakespeare
Info:Empire Books (2012), Paperback, 186 pages
Collections:Read but unowned
Rating:**1/2
Tags:read 2012, fiction, play, shakespeare, trojan war, tragedy

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Troilus and Cressida by William Shakespeare

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Shakespeare's brutal and brilliant deconstruction of the Iliad is one of the most enjoyable surprises I've had in reading. Achilles is a brute and a fraud. Ajax is a chivalrous dunce. Agamemnon is a cipher. Menelaus is just a cuckold. Ulysses and Nestor are puppeteers whose main military virtue is their ability to manipulate the two strongmen. Thersites isn't a troublemaker but the most bitter of Shakespeare's jesters, tolerated by the powerful Grecians instead of beaten. Hector on the other hand is even nobler than he was in the Iliad and is murdered in the most cowardly way imaginable.

Nothing is more surprising that the characters of the star crossed lovers, whose story ends with the woman changing her heart with her fortune and her enraged former lover consigning her to blazes and becoming a cruel killing machine. The play thus ends not with the tragic deaths of the lovers but with Cressida's pandering uncle complaining about the physical ailments his career has caused him.

Did I say that Shakespeare was deconstructing Homer? On second thought, Shakespeare was deconstructing Shakespeare. ( )
  Coach_of_Alva | Jul 13, 2014 |
** spoiler alert **

This is a pretty good play. It doesn't fit the usual categories, being filled with comic scenes and speeches but following with an abrupt bleak ending. I found the dialogue throughout to be entertaining and clever, and the spoof of the Iliad very funny. The eponymous love affair is satirical. Troilus is a narcissistic and wordy brat, and Cressida a rather winning girl who can't say no. The love affair is at best a subplot to the Iliad satire, and it's most entertaining character the go-between Pandarus, who remarks that his name will be inherited by all panders to follow. Most of the main Iliad characters are presented satirically. All ends in a lengthy battle with many short scenes of individual combat, ending with the death of Hector in a rather unheroic attack by Achilles and his Myrmidons. Then a final comic soliloquy by Pandarus. If you like bawdy Shakespeare there is a lot of it here, including a large stock of gay humor in the Greek camp. ( )
1 vote anthonywillard | Nov 26, 2013 |
**spoiler alert** If this be a comedy, then my life is a laugh riot! I only laughed twice and the ending left me wanting to know what happened between Troilus and Cressida after the last battle, despite its length.

Worthwhile quotes, and the only parts I laughed at:

Alexander, servant to Cressida: "They say he [Ajax:] is a very man per se/And stands alone."
Cressida: "So do all men, unless they are drunk, sick, or have no legs."
(Act I, Scene II, lines 15-18)

and...

Uncle and niece speaking about the difference between Troilus and Achilles.
Pandarus: "...Do you know what a man is? Is not birth, beauty, good shape, discourse, manhood, learning, gentleness, virtue, youth, liberality, and so forth, the spice and salt that season a man?"
Cressida: "Ay, a minced man: and then to be baked with no date in the pie, for then the man's date's out."
(Act I, Scene II, lines 272-279)
  VeritysVeranda | Sep 29, 2013 |
I can’t believe there’s a Shakespeare play I’m giving two stars to. (“It was OK.”) But I guess it shows that anyone can have a bad writing week. Though labeled a tragedy, this pointless story meanders nowhere, has no figure with a tragic flaw, and builds none of the magnificent foreboding of Hamlet or Macbeth. Peevish, raging figures try to scrape up power or feed their egos, Cressida herself gets lost somewhere along the line after contradicting her own character, and Troilus comes off as a minor figure. The plot and characters add up to nothing, like some dull movie you regret wasting a couple hours on. The play could as easily have been labeled a comedy for all the cynical insults bandied about. From reading the introduction I see that it’s quite possible the play was only performed a few times and that Shakespeare’s acting company may have tried to prevent the text from being published. Yet Troilus and Cressida was most likely written just a year after Hamlet, with Othello, King Lear, Macbeth to follow in the coming years. I have to assume this was a writing experiment that didn’t pan out, and that the author must have known that. ( )
1 vote sortmind | Sep 27, 2013 |
This is one of Shakespeare's problem plays, meaning it doesn't fit neatly into the category of tragedy or comedy, but occupies its own hybrid niche. "Black comedy" or "scathing satire" would probably be a fairly apt description for this outing. It's actually a lot of fun to read, especially if you like humor flavored with a heavy dose of cynicism.

The "romantic" leads of the play's title, Troilus and Cressida, are no Romeo and Juliet. Not even by a long shot. Troilus is a superficial lad, concerned only with glory and momentary pleasures, and his love for Cressida lasts only about as long as her maidenhood. Cressida is just as fickle as her lover, swiftly shifting her physical affections to the enemy camp when she gets traded for ransom.

This play is very anachronistic. It's not the sort of tale that resides in the ancient dusty battles of Greek times; it's very much a product of Shakespeare's era. This is what makes it such an interesting read for me. It reflects the rapidly changing world of a burgeoning global market, a place where chaos, hypocrisy, and corruption were rife. There are numerous references in the play to venereal disease, especially the notorious pox (syphilis), which was just beginning its lengthy reign in Europe.

I do love it when Shakespeare gets gross, and he obliges his disgusting side with unapologetic alacrity here. "Thou crusty botch of nature", "thou sarsenet flap for a sore eye", and so on.. Shakespeare is a demigod when it comes to heinous insults, and Troilus and Cressida is brimful of humdingers.

I also love Shakespeare plays for the treasure-trove of words, some of which should still be in use instead of being consigned to obscurity.
Two words from this play that caught my fancy:

Oppugnancy - meaning opposition. I like its bouncy character, like a rubber ball on the tongue.

Gloze - a verb meaning to comment, make excuses for, or to use ingratiating language. ( )
1 vote saturnloft | Aug 22, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (66 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
William Shakespeareprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Shakespeare, Williammain authorall editionsconfirmed
Beckerman, BernardEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Brissaud, PierreIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Brooke, C. F. TuckerEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Furness, Horace HowardEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Harrison, G. B.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lee, SidneyEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Papp, JosephEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Whitaker, Virgil K.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wilson, John DoverEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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In Troy, there lies the scene.
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The end crowns all,

And that old common arbitrator, Time,

Will one day end it.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0451522974, Mass Market Paperback)

This New Revised Signet Classic edition of Troilus and Cressida features a comprehensive stage history by Barbara Bowen, a general discussion of Shakespeare's life, world and theater, and newly added dramatic criticism by William Empson and Carol Cook.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:29:33 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

"Troy is besieged by the invading Greeks, but the young Trojan prince Troilus can think only of his love for Cressida. Her uncle Pandarus brings the two together, but after only one night news comes that Cressida must be sent to the enemy camp. There, as Troilus looks on, she yields to the wooing of the Greek Diomedes. The heroic action of the Trojan War story is undercut by the commentary of Thersites, who provides a cynical chorus to this dark and brilliant play"--Container.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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Audible.com

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Penguin Australia

Two editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0140714863, 0141016698

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