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Reviewed by:
  • ‘De Sens Rassis’: Essays in Honor of Rupert T. Pickens
  • Catherine Léglu
‘De Sens Rassis’: Essays in Honor of Rupert T. Pickens. Edited by Keith Busby, Bernard Guidot and Logan E. Whalen . Amsterdam — New York, Rodopi, 2005. xxviii + 753 pp. Hb $224.00; €160.00.

The forty-eight articles in this Festschrift celebrate the editorial, critical and collegial career of Rupert T. Pickens. They also highlight the dramatic changes that the past ten years have brought in medieval literary studies, notably the proliferation of online and commercial e-texts and databases, which have effectively replaced tracking down editions and critical apparatus with the click of a 'search' button, and which offer the luxury of frequent updates. Several of the contributors to this volume are involved in online editorial and reference projects, and the footnotes alone promise many virtual medieval texts within the next few years. This alone is a fitting tribute to Pickens's foresight in publishing an edition in the 1970s of every surviving version of the songs attributed to Jaufré Rudel. Some essays are overtly contributions towards the establishment of online editions with complete reproductions of text and manuscript, for example, Carleton W. Carroll's examination of the hand-over between two scribes in the P text of Erec et Enide, Lenora D. Wolfgang's remarks on the E text of the Charrette, and William W. Kibler's 'Huon de Bordeaux in its Manuscripts'. Similarly Carol J. Chase's detailed discussion of the illuminations of L'Estoire du saint Graal concludes simply that the reader is being 'directed towards the sacred', leaving the reader to make further connections with reference to the full text. Lori J. Walters and Keith Busby, respectively examining Rigomer in Chantilly, Musée Condé MS 472 and Florimont, demonstrate the effectiveness of analysing texts in context. My one criticism of this fine and richly rewarding volume is that the alphabetical order adopted by the editors, no doubt to preserve the feelings of contributors, results in a bumpy ride. There is an even distribution of material covering several fields (epic, romance, lyric and didactic; Old and Middle French, Old and Renaissance Occitan and a couple of essays on Middle English and Dante) as well as several methodologies (codicology, literary criticism, iconography, editorial practice), but we jump from Robert Francis Cook's detailed note on his edition of Le Bâtard de Bouillon, to Alain Corbellari's analysis of ring-giving in romances, then Peter F. Dembowski's critique of bilingual editions, and on to a description by Jean Dufournet of nineteenth-century receptions of Villon. Of course, this is simply a feature of the genre (who except a reviewer will read this volume from A to Z?), but it is perhaps too easy to miss some contributions; for example, Mary Jane Schenk's essay on the Oxford Roland, 'Spectacles of Violence: The Trials of Ganelon', is placed between two papers on Arthurian romance (Barbara Sargent-Baur on Cligès and Sara Sturm-Maddox on Amadas et Ydoine), and is unlikely to catch the eye of the same readers. This quibble aside, it is worth pointing out that the collection is of consistently high quality, gives [End Page 264] an excellent overview of several trends in medieval research in French as well as English, and that it is well presented, with good black-and-white reproductions.

Catherine Léglu
University of Bristol


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