In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Reviews 283 In conclusion, this is a lively and intelligent 'biography', which tells more about the context and the afterlife ofBerengaria than it does ofthe w o m a n herself, and asks many interesting questions about h o w scholars approach and interpret medieval materials. Carole M. Cusack Studies in Religion University of Sydney Waite, Greg, Old English Prose Translations of King Alfred's Reign (Annotated Bibliographies of Old and Middle English Literature 6), Cambridge, D. S. Brewer, 2000; pp. xiv, 394; R R P US$90.00; ISBN 085991-591-3. This is an excellent and invaluable tool for those pursuing studies in Old Eng generally, and particularly for those interested in the various translations now generally attributed to Alfred, or to his influence: Gregory's Pastoral Care, Boethius' Consolation of Philosophy, Augustine's Soliloquies, the Prose Psalms ofthe Paris Psalter, Orosius' History, Bede's Ecclesiastical History and Gregory's Dialogues. It is a convenient reference of bibliographical information, but also offers the reader the pleasures of browsing through informative overviews of fields ofresearch. The edition will appeal to scholars, but also to undergraduates and those new to Old English studies because both the Introduction and the sections on each of the texts provide a comprehensive review and an instant introduction to the development of scholarship in the Anglo-Saxon period. Sweet saw Alfred's Pastoral Care as 'of exclusively philological interest', but the growth of interdisciplinary approaches has led more recent scholars to appreciate the complexity ofthe period. The comprehensive Introduction is a microcosm of the whole edition. It reviews the life and times ofAlfred, Asser's Life, and the history of scholarship since 1550. Authorship, chronology and sources of the texts are also examined. Sections on language and style are included, as is the social, political and intellectual context. Waite also covers the important area of translation studies as a new way to interpret Alfred's rewritings. Another aspect which makes this edition so widely valuable is the inclusion of articles on literacy and orality in Anglo-Saxon England, which would serve as a useful chronological base for studies of later periods. The Introduction then provides a concise summation and 284 Reviews critical analysis of the interdisciplinary scholarly approaches so that the reader can contextualise the individual works, and assess h o w the various articles fit in the complex web of interlocking associations. The temperate and judicious discussion shows which areas of research have become influential, and which areas could receive further research. Following the Introduction, the book is divided into 15 sections. Sections one to eight deal with bibliographical works, general studies ofAlfred's life and works, history, literary history, anthologies and readers, translations, linguistic studies and manuscripts. A delight is the section on biographies ofAlfred which provides a mirror ofhistorical writings over the centuries, and concisely conveys how each age writes their hero to reflect its times. Sections nine to 15 deal with the secondary material of the individual texts, including editions and manuscript sigla, editions of the Latin source, translations and studies. A particular attraction is the chronological arrangement ofmaterials from 1550 to 1996 which allows, as T o m Burton the unflagging general editor of this excellent series writes, a 'sense of the development of scholarship in the field'. Such organisation encourages browsing: the sections illustrate the broad sweep of changing aesthetic and theoretical interpretations of Old English literature, and trace the development of more subtle and nuanced understandings of the period as more scholars from different areas have engaged with the material. The brief but comprehensive entries maintain objectivity yet reveal the flavour of the article or book - essential in these cash-strapped times when one has to think twice before ordering inter-library loans. One needs to know, for instance, whether the author is one of those w h o considers Alfred's prose 'rude and rudimentary' (p. 153). The reader is also informed of the various participants in discussions of key topics: in the numerous interpretations of Alfred's Consolation, for instance, it is made clear w h o is responding to w h o m in the continuing debate about whether Alfred followed or rewrote Boethius. Attention...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 283-285
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.