Renowned author Joyce Carol Oates famously called Troilus and Cressida ‘that most vexing and ambiguous of Shakespeare’s plays’.
The siege of Troy was the story of stories, the subject of Homer’s Iliad. This particular episode – the love between the Trojan prince Troilus and Cressida, the daughter of a Greek traitor – was the subject of Boccaccio’s and Chaucer’s greatest poems. Even Shakespeare must have felt some trepidation in tackling it. And yet, what Shakespeare manages to give us is something entirely unexpected: here we ﬁnd no epic heroism, no great love story, but instead his most cynical drama.
The author and playwright Joyce Carol Oates famously called Troilus and Cressida ‘that most vexing and ambiguous of Shakespeare’s plays’, but she also recognised the enduring relevance of ‘its investigation of numerous inﬁdelities, its criticism of tragic pretensions, above all, its implicit debate between what is essential in human life and what is only existential’.
Published by Oxford University Press and bound in hardback buckram by The Folio Society, The Oxford Shakespeare series offers authoritative editions of Shakespeare’s plays. The early printings have been scrupulously re-examined and interpreted by eminent scholars, who also provide introductory essays covering all relevant background information, together with an appraisal of critical views and of the plays in performance. The exhaustive commentaries pay particular attention to language and staging. Reprints of sources, music for songs, genealogical tables and maps are included where necessary; many of the volumes are illustrated, and all contain an index.
Each book has an individual editor, with the whole series overseen by Stanley Wells.
Kenneth Muir was a literary scholar and author who focused on Shakespeare studies and English Renaissance theatre. He was King Alfred Professor of English Literature at the University of Liverpool between 1951 and 1974.
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