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184 Reviews Waite, Greg, ed., Sir Thomas Malory: Le morte Darthur, tales seven and eight (Otago studies in English, 3) Dunedin, University of Otago, 1993; paper; pp. xxxix, 187; R.R.P. NZ$15.00 (postage included) in N e w Zealand, NZ$25.00 (postage included) in Australia [discounts for orders of 10 or more copies]. The Morte Darthur achieved enormous success in the sixteenth century and again in the nineteenth, in thoroughly corrupt texts. Modern scholars still labour to recover what Malory originally wrote. The basic texts are Caxton's edition (Q, and the Winchester manuscript (W). Professor Waite gives us a well-proportioned, Winchester-based edition for undergraduates of the last two tales, roughly a quarter of the whole. Its thirty-eight pages of introduction give a summary of the Arthurian legend, an account of Malory and his book, and a bibliography. The 163 pages of text are followed by six of explanatory notes, four of textual notes, a glossary (words are also glossed at the foot of the page), and, as a bonus, the prologue to Caxton's edition. The introduction is crisp and informative, apart from the failure to justify the choice of W rather than C as the base-text, and a few careless errors; for example, Gildas' De excidio is not a chronicle, and does not unequivocally attribute the victory at Badon to someone other than Arthur; Geoffrey of Monmouth does not say that Arthur departed for Avalon 'after his death'. Strange things are also said about the sources of Malory's second andfifthtales. Malory was not an M.P. in 1456, and he died before his son and heir. W was also in Caxton's hands by 1483, not by 1489. The text is in an attractive but rather faint typeface, cluttered with emendatory and glossing symbols. It is generally accurate, except for the appended Caxton colophon, which has eleven transcription errors in nine lines. Elsewhere there are a few mistaken expansions of abbreviations (foure,fyve, nyne,fourty ... ) and two dozen transcription errors, the most important of them lyke wyse (p. 13.5), Gromore somer Ioure (p. 96.5), foure score (p. 101.23), and relygious (p. 123.28). The text includes 369 emendations, of which the textual notes, too many of whose reference numbers are wrong, silently omit ninety-five. At least one other emendation, com (p. 129.12) must surely be intended. The emendations cautiously improve the base-text, but the thirty-six that have not appeared in previous editions show an erratic grasp of Middle English Reviews 185 and editing practice. Those at 23.9, 65.18-20, and 94.22 are solid improvements and several others are worth thinking about, but a 'of, a thirty 'thirty', an 'and', and if'if, hur 'her', and laste 'lest' are all acceptab Middle English. There is no palaeographical justification for Kyng[e] at 150.16. Hunteras, traytouras, and the overlooked sorseras at 81.13 embody a real scribal or authorial preference. The whiche, conversely, is a distinctively Caxtonian form and a W-based text should give which(e) alone. Finally, and receyue the dethe at 106.16 is a tautology in the bottom line of its page in C, and so is probably padding to make cast-off copy fit the forme. To an undergraduate user, glosses may be vital, but they unfortunately show this edition at its weakest. Most are adequate but few are felicitous, and every three or four pages one is seriously misleading. A m o n g these, compaste (35.19/20) means 'realized'; ledde, lad (44.9, 17, 63.20, 81.22, 82.1, 110.13) 'carried'; listys (14.16) is not the fencing round the joustingspace , but the jousting-space itself; remembird hymself (22.6) means 'remembered'; resortis (4.1) 'visits'; used (51.21) 'practised'. Requyre (at 78.9, 111.27, 156.2) and surmysed (at 119.27) have their modern sense, but are glossed as if they did not. For 'Earl of Spain' at 81.9 read 'Spanish earl'. As reson wolde at 153.2 does not mean 'as one would reasonably expect', and bondys 'bonds' at 100.27, and nearhonde 'nearby' at 101...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1832-8334
Print ISSN
0313-6221
Pages
pp. 184-185
Launched on MUSE
2013-04-03
Open Access
No
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