In a field like Romance philology, like many other fields of course, practitioners can lean towards the doctrinal, if not the dogmatic: one learns how to "do philology" from one's teacher and one continues that person's work, passing that training on to one's students. Some scholars might feel that altering one's methods later down the road is akin to a deep betrayal of our teachers. Naturally, however, instead of forging ahead more or less with methodological binders, it behooves us to look back once in a while and think a bit about how we came to be in our moment of scholarly history. It is Francesco Carapezza's aim to do just that, but within narrower cultural and geographic paramaters. He tries to plot the rise and spread of Galloromance (here meant to mean French and Occitan) philology in the United States. The enterprise is not without merit, but it is also not without some of the pitfalls common to such cross-cultural investigations. On the one hand, it can be very interesting, indeed enlightening, to read an intercultural perspective on one's field. On the other, studies such as these, even with the best of intentions, can contain incidents of stereotype or bias or, even worse, judgmental aloofness. All in all, though, Carapezza's work is provocative and welcome.
His first chapter, "Nascita di una tradizione filologica (1883-1917)", is centered upon the figure of Aaron Marshall Elliott, whom Carapezza, among others, believes to be the father of Galloromance philological practice in America. Carapezza paints a colorful picture of Elliott, noting his Quaker background and the years he spent as an intellectual Wanderer in Europe, gleaning what he could from noted European scholars. In fact, the metaphor of gleaning might indeed describe how Carapezza views American philological practice: unsystematic foraging in a field that others have cultivated. For this part of his history, Carapezza relies heavily upon what was [End Page 157] published in the front matter to the Festschrift dedicated to Elliott in 1911 (Studies) and upon an article by Edward C. Armstrong (1923), "A. Marshall Elliott: A Retrospect". The rest of the first chapter, the shortest of the three, follows the careers of Elliott's students whom he trained at Johns Hopkins: Henri François Muller and Henry A. Todd, who went on to Columbia; John E. Matzke, who took a job at Stanford; Edward D. Armstrong, who worked his entire career at Princeton; and then T. Atkinson Jenkins and William A. Nitze, who spent fruitful years at Chicago.
Interestingly, the chapter ends with a stemma editorum, a thought paradigm that Carapezza borrows quite consciously from the philological tradition to demonstrate the overarching thesis of his study. The stemma traces the philological descendants of Elliott and his students and others down to the present generation, noting along the way the "contaminating" influences in this tradition. The "contaminants" include rather august figures: Gaston Paris, Lucien Foulet, and others who might have influenced a given student during his doctoral training. The metaphor is ingenious, but also telling of the limits of this kind of archeological or genealogical enterprise: when it comes down to it, even for-or perhaps especially for-eminent scholars, life is messy. Moreover, this reviewer finds the labeling of the contribution of a Gaston Paris as "contamination" to be rather overstating the case for Elliott, and understating those of other, "outside" influences on American Galloromance philology.
Chapter 2, "Crisi e rinnovamento dei metodi (1917-1970)", is the longest and most detailed chapter. It deals primarily with the editorial decisions and methodologies of three large-scale projects: the edition of the Perlesvaus carried out by Nitze and Jenkins (1932-1937) at Chicago; the editing of the Roman d'Alexandre completed by Armstrong (1937-1976) and his team at Princeton; and the gargantuan undertaking by Roach (1949-1983) at Pennsylvania, that is, the Perceval continuations. Carapezza's analyses are detailed and often engaging. Filling out this...