This article investigates how Chaucer‘s Knight‘s and Squire‘s tales critically
engage with the Orientalist strategies buttressing contemporary Italian humanist
discussions of visual art. Framed by references to crusading, the two tales
enter into a dialogue focusing, in particular, on the relations between the
classical, the scientific and the Oriental in trecento Italian discourses on
painting and optics, discourses that are alluded to in the description of
Theseus Theatre and the events that happen there. The Squire‘s Tale exhibits
what one might call a strategic Orientalism designed to draw attention to the
Orientalism implicit in his fathers narrative, a narrative that, for all its
painstaking classicism, displays both remarkably Italianate and Orientalist
features. Read in tandem, the two tales present a shrewd commentary on the
exclusionary strategies inherent in the construction of new cultural identities,
arguably making Chaucer the first postcolonial critic of the Renaissance.
Reading, space and intimacy in Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde
Andrew James Johnston
In purely structural terms, Geoffrey Chaucer's poem Troilus and Criseyde erects a narrative edifice impressive for its classical austerity. Chaucer's main concern in Troilus and Criseyde is to demonstrate how deeply Trojan history is imbued with the 'Thebanness'. In Troilus and Criseyde, reading is a gender issue, and moreover, this chapter shows a question of the particular spaces where emotions are both gendered and engendered. The act of intimate reading produces exactly those powerful emotions that Pandarus had hoped to draw on previously when he was wooing Criseyde on behalf of Troilus. Pandarus's dismissive reaction would be a consequence of Criseyde's failure to read the courtly romance that he had hoped would facilitate his task. The act of reading is conceptualized as an act of intimacy, as an experience governed by and conducive to emotions.
Performing the politics of passion: Troilus and Criseyde and Troilus and Cressida and the literary tradition of love and history
Andrew James Johnston and Russell West-Pavlov
This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book treats the emotions in Troilus and Criseyde/Cressida as metatheatrical operators and, as a consequence, as more general metatemporal moderators. It suggests that hope and fear are central in William Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida because the two protagonists are aware of the way their reputations are being forged for eternity. The book scrutinizes a transhistorical regime of conflict-ridden affect. It also suggests that Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida situates itself within an affective temporality which is explicitly textualized. The book traces the genealogy of arrogance from one of the typified sins through to its development into an affective marker of novelty and innovation, finally being configured around the notion of authorship. The book explores the poetological dimension of arrogance in Geoffrey Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde and Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida.
For the last three decades or so, literary studies, especially those dealing with premodern texts, have been dominated by the New Historicist paradigm. This book is a collection of essays explores medieval and early modern Troilus-texts from Chaucer to Shakespeare. The contributions show how medieval and early modern fictions of Troy use love and other emotions as a means of approaching the problem of tradition. The book argues that by emphasizing Troilus's and Cressida's hopes and fears, Shakespeare sets in motion a triangle of narrative, emotion and temporality. It is a spectacle of which tells something about the play but also about the relation between anticipatory emotion and temporality. The sense of multiple literary futures is shaped by Shakespeare's Chaucer, and in particular by Troilus and Criseyde. The book argues that the play's attempted violence upon a prototypical form of historical time is in part an attack on the literary narratives. Criseyde's beauty is described many times. The characters' predilection for sententiousness unfolds gradually. Through Criseyde, Chaucer's Poet displaces authorial humility as arrogance. The Troilus and Criseyde/Cressida saga begins with Boccaccio, who isolates and expands the love affair between Troiolo and Criseida to vent his sexual frustration. The poem appears to be linking an awareness of history and its continuing influence and impact on the present to hermeneutical acts conspicuously gendered female. The main late medieval Troy tradition does two things: it represents ferocious military combat, and also practises ferocious literary combat against other, competing traditions of Troy.