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Reviewed by:
  • 'Queil boen professeur, mult enseinné, queil boen collegue' Essays in Honour of Brian Merrilees / Mélanges offerts à Brian Merrilees
  • Maureen Boulton (bio)
Carol J. Harvey, editor, with assistance from Margaret Burrell 'Queil boen professeur, mult enseinné, queil boen collegue' Essays in Honour of Brian Merrilees / Mélanges offerts à Brian Merrilees. Special issue, Florilegium 24 (2007). $35.00

This special issue of Florilegium, the journal of the Canadian Society of Medievalists, is a splendid tribute to the long teaching career and prolific research of Brian Merrilees, recently retired from the Department of French (Victoria College) of the University of Toronto. A distinguished international group of scholars has contributed the dozen articles that make up this excellent collection, and the topics generally reflect Prof. Merrilees's interests in editing Anglo-Norman texts, and in medieval French linguistics and lexicography.

The collection opens with a group of articles on literary subjects, the first two dealing with French influence in Lombardy (Jeanette Beer on the Bestiaire d'amour) and Scotland (William Calin on René d'Anjou's Livre du cuer as a source for King Hart). Glynnis Cropp's examination of the figure of Nero in medieval French literature also traces the introduction and use of the word tyran so often used to describe him.

The Anglo-Norman section contains four articles exhibiting varied approaches to the subject. Perhaps the most novel is Margaret Burrell's attempt to identify the geological events and locations that might have inspired the descriptions of Hell in two twelfth-century texts (Benedeit's Voyage de Saint Brendan and Marie de France's Espurgatoire seint Patriz). Delbert Russell and Tony Hunt's contribution is a welcome edition of two previously unpublished pieces from the famous Tristan manuscript (Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Douce d.6): the verse 'Debate of Humility and Pride' and a prose version of the 'Legend of the Holy Rood.' Pierre Nobel's painstaking comparison of the Genesis portion of the Bible anglo-normande and the Bible of Jean de Sy demonstrates that although both translators relied on a similar model, the latter also personalized his translation by relying directly on the Vulgate and by incorporating explanatory material from the Historia Scholastica. Reflecting his work as editor of the Anglo-Norman Dictionary, David Trotter's article is much more abstract, examining the differences between modern and medieval approaches to semantics. The 'Bele Alis Sermon,' edited in the last article in the collection (by Robert Taylor and a group of his former students) also has Anglo-Norman links: it has been attributed to Stephen Langton and is preserved in several Insular manuscripts. [End Page 441]

The articles of the last section of the collection are related to linguistics and lexicography. Reporting on a joint project of the Université d'Ottawa and the Université de Nancy, Pierre Kunstmann reports on the Dictionnaire électronique de Chrétien de Troyes: the first stage of the project was launched in 2007 (, and the second stage is well advanced. Anne Grondeux explores the limitations of medieval Latin glossaries as a source for semantic evolution of words. Serge Lusignan illustrates the spread of Picard dialect beyond its regional borders through the travels of the members of the D'Estrée family. In a lightervein, Giuseppedi Stefano has collected from Middle French sources a litany of burlesque saints, with the comic special powers attributed to them.

This volume contains much of interest to scholars and students of medieval French language and literature, and the editions of three Anglo-Norman texts are particularly significant. With its great diversity of subjects and approaches, this collection illustrates beautifully the vitality of medieval French studies, both in Canada and abroad. It is a worthy tribute to one of Canada's outstanding scholars of medieval French.

Maureen Boulton

Maureen Boulton, Department of Romance Languages, University of Notre Dame



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pp. 441-442
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