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book reviews737 would not have suspected it because its form was not that of a papal letter. They might have known Urban's registers contained similar texts. Somerville has produced a splendid piece of work, and Oxford University Press has provided a suitably well-produced book. Urban studies will profit from this book for years to come. Kenneth Pennington Syracuse University Violence and Daily Life. Reading, Art, andPolemics in the Citeaux Moralia in Job. By Conrad Rudolph. (Princeton: Princeton University Press. 1997. Pp. xii, 145; 59 illustrations.) Conrad Rudolph's new book presents an interpretation of the decoration of Pope Gregory's Moralia inJob, contained in a manuscript completed in 1111 at Citeaux during the reign ofits third abbot, Stephen Harding. This decoration, consisting of a full-page frontispiece and initial letters at the beginning of the prefaces and the thirty-five books that comprise this staple of the monastic literature in the early Middle Ages, has long attracted the attention of art historians for its draftsmanly virtuosity and enigmatic charm. A product of the heroic beginnings of Cistercian spirituality, it seems to dissent, in its apparent accommodation of aesthetic fantasy, from the ascetic ideals enunciated in the founding documents of the Order and later codified in its legislation. Rudolph notes that the manuscript betrays in its format and formal inconsistencies of the illumination some changes of heart on the part of its makers in the course of production . Originally designed to encompass two volumes, the first part was subdivided soon after its completion into three separate tomes. The second volume ,which retained its homogeneity, is also much larger in its dimensions than its companion. The decoration was begun in a fairly restrained and sober manner , Books I and II having only smallish pen-work initial letters. Thereafter, the initials become formally more elaborate, though still conventional in their choice of imagery. From Book VIII onward, however, the space allotted to them becomes much larger, and their design exhibits the extraordinary mixture ofvariety and inventiveness for which the Citeaux Moralia is famous, departing from a literal construal of the text and forsaking as well the customary devices of allegory or overt symbolism in favor of an expressive medium that seems to be compounded of metaphor, allusion, or perhaps only hermetic self-reference. This imagery has not surprisingly constituted a challenge to the hermeneutical pride of modern readers. Modernists among them have celebrated in them a nearness to life and a certain vindication of the private or the gratuitous in the realm of aesthetic experience even in these remote and unpromising times. Rudolph belongs with the traditionalists or those for whom historical contingencies compel a search for religious meaning in works of monastic art even as obdurate to interpretation as these designs. Daily life in the title of the book 738book reviews refers to the series of initials (Bks. XI, XIII, XV, XVI, XXI, XXVII, XXXTV) which are often regarded as reflections of the artist's curiosity about the world around him. For Rudolph, however, the naturalism of these letters, real as it is, harbors an allegorical dimension which is for him their essential point, lending emphasis to the value attached by the Cistercians on manual labor and the avoidance of the temptations of the secular world. A second group of initials (Frontispiece , and Bks. X, XVIII, XIX, XX, XXIII, XXVIII, XXLX, XXX, XXXI, and XXXIII) refers, according to the author, to the theme of violence, a term not altogether well chosen by him to designate spiritual struggle. His method is to concede the lack of any literal basis in the text for the often fanciful imagery of these initials , and appeal for an explanatory premise to a generalized "sense" embedded in Gregory's commentary. Thus, the lean and long-frocked figure prying open the jaws of a submissive dragon which outlines the letter Q at the beginning of Book XX is said to have been inspired by a passage in this section of the text which declares that "the elect, while in this world, never become overconfident of their spiritual security; instead they are always on watch against the plots of the enemy" (p. 45). The weird collection of wild...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-0708
Print ISSN
0008-8080
Pages
pp. 737-738
Launched on MUSE
2016-10-05
Open Access
No
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