contributor.author: B. Santano Moreno

title.none: Chaucer, Troilo y Criseida (B. Santano Moreno)

identifier.other: baj9928.0212.008 02.12.08

identifier.issn: 1096-746X

description.statementofresponsibility: B. Santano Moreno, Universidad de Extremadura, vicecult@unex.es

publisher.none: .

date.issued: 2002

identifier.citation: Chaucer, Geoffrey. Hidalgo, Ana Saez, trans. Troilo y Criseida. Series: Clasicos Medievales, vol. 24. Madrid: Gredos, 2001. Pp. 263. ISBN: 84-249-2309-x.

type.none: Review

relation.ispartof: The Medieval Review

The Medieval Review 02.12.08

Chaucer, Geoffrey. Hidalgo, Ana Saez, trans. Troilo y Criseida. Series: Clasicos Medievales, vol. 24. Madrid: Gredos, 2001. Pp. 263. ISBN: 84-249-2309-x.

Reviewed by:

B. Santano Moreno
Universidad de Extremadura
vicecult@unex.es

The field of English studies in the Spanish University system started in the early 1950s and, although from the very beginning the area of Medieval language and literature was an integral part of the academic curricula, as A. Bravo, F. Galván and S. González point out in their Old and Middle English Studies in Spain. A Bibliography (Oviedo, 1994), it was not until very recently, and mainly after the creation of the Spanish Society for Medieval English Language and Literature in 1987, that the development of publications and research in this area has started to acquire both quantitative and qualitative significance. The late Professor Patricia Shaw and the scholars who succeeded her in the direction of the Society have provided a most important service in favor of the promotion of all aspects related to the study of the English Middle Ages in Spain. The academic meetings and publications organized by the Society have provided many Spanish scholars, some of them very young, with a forum for debate and an opportunity to have a personal contact with other European and American scholars and their research. A result of the increase in the interest in Medieval England is the number of translations into Spanish of works that otherwise would not be easily accessible for a public not familiarized with Middle English. In this respect, the publication of Ana Sáez Hidalgo's translation of Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde is an important contribution to a more general knowledge in Spain of one of the key works of medieval English literature.

A. Sáez Hidalgo's work is divided into two main parts, an introductory study of Geoffrey Chaucer and Troilus and Criseyde and her prose translation into Spanish of Chaucer's poem. In the introduction, Sáez Hidalgo starts with a brief biography of the poet and mentions aspects about the author's birth and education. She also points out that the information on Chaucer's early years is not very abundant, and refers the reader to the studies by E. Rickert and D. Howard on Chaucer's education. For information on the extant documentary records of Chaucer's life Sáez Hidalgo refers to Crow and Olson's Chaucer Life-Records, no doubt an essential publication for the study of the poet's life. Unfortunately, however, no mention is made to D. Pearsall's The Life of Geoffrey Chaucer (Oxford, 1992).

Sáez Hidalgo gives a general view of the poet's public life, his professional, military and diplomatic activities, his journeys to Spain, France and Italy during which, perhaps, the poet might have had direct contact with some Italian texts, especially the works of Boccaccio, Dante and Petrarch. She also mentions the enigmatic Cecily Champain case, one of the incidents in Chaucer's life that has received much attention. In this respect, Sáez Hidalgo also includes some technical considerations about the word raptus, meaning both "rape" and "abduction". In the final paragraphs of this biographical sketch, Sáez Hidalgo mentions Chaucer's appointments as member of the commission of the peace in Kent, as clerk of the King's works, as deputy forester, and finally the lease of the house taken by the poet near Westminster, the traditionally accepted date of his death (25 October 1400) and burial in the abbey.

The next section of the introduction is devoted to the analysis of aspects related to Troilus and Criseyde. The date of composition of the poem (between 1382 and 1385 and before 1387), the origin of the story and the sources used by Chaucer. Boccaccio's Il Filostrato is the main source used by the English poet. The Italian text represents an innovation over its classical sources which deal with the Trojan War. Sáez Hidalgo points out that the fourteenth century was a period in which a complex process of rewriting literature took place. The most obvious change affected the transition of texts from an oral to a written medium. In the analysis of the plot and characters of Troilus and Criseyde, Sáez Hidalgo says that it becomes clear that Chaucer's story is basically the same as that of Il Filostrato. Book I is the closest to the Italian text, but in the English poem the Trojan background gains importance. After this book, Chaucer becomes more independent from his source and the dialogues and monologues receive a special emphasis. Book IV is again closer to its Italian original and, finally, in Book V, Chaucer uses much information from Benoit of Sainte-Maure's Roman de Troie and from Guido delle Colonne's Historia destructionis Troiae. Sáez Hidalgo considers that the final result of Chaucer's changes is a more symmetric text in which the author pays more attention to the dialogues and the characters. As regards the meaning of the love between Troilus and Criseyde, Sáez Hidalgo says that, besides the final criticism of worldly love, Boccaccio, like Juan Ruiz, Archpriest of Hita, in his Libro de buen amor, allows the reader to decide on what is good or bad. Chaucer does the same and the reader has the opportunity to form an opinion about the love of the protagonists. Sáez Hidalgo also includes a series of pertinent considerations on the influence of Boethius's De Consolatione Philosophiae, although a typographical error places this Roman author in the first century A.D.

Other useful comments on the formal elements of Troilus and Criseyde and questions on genre and textual tradition can be found in the last section of the introduction. There is also a basic bibliography and a chronological table. Although the bibliography is not intended to be exhaustive, it however does not include Richard J. Utz's, Literarischer Nominalismus im Spaetmittelalter: eine Untersuchung zu Sprache, Charakterzeichnung und Struktur in Geoffrey Chaucers Troilus and Criseyde (Frankfurt-am-Main, 1990), a title that should always be considered in the studies on Troilus and Criseyde.

As for the translation into Spanish, Sáez Hidalgo presents a prose text that deserves every compliment. It is true that by choosing a prose medium for the translation an important formal aspect, Chaucer's rime royal, is lost; but on the other hand, the translator's ability and masterly command of the language work in such a way that the loss of the original form is well compensated by an elaborate style in Spanish. The translation follows the original text very faithfully and the semantic nuances of Chaucer's poem are well conveyed in the Spanish version. The proverbs and idiomatic expressions find good equivalents, to the extent that the translated text is devoid of any exotic or alien flavor. Moreover, the translator includes many explanatory notes that help the reader to understand other cultural or literary aspects related to the text. The final result of Sáez Hidalgo's work is an excellent text that serves to introduce Spanish readers to one of the most representative works of the English Middle Ages.