- A day estivall: essays on the music, poetry and history of Scotland and England and poems previously unpublished in honour of Helena Mennie Shire (review)
- Australian and New Zealand Association of Medieval and Early Modern Studies (Inc.)
- Volume 9, Number 2, December 1991
- p. pp. 151-153
- View Citation
Reviews 151 conclusion that Hildegard's 'neuro-physiological profile', especially her susceptibility to migraine headaches, accounts for her visions is a solution with which many wdl feel tempted to agree. There is a list of Hildegard's works and of some of the works upon her, some notation and an index. M y chief reservations concern assumptions for which the grounds are not obvious, the accuracy of the translations from the Latin, and a conceptual framework which seems, in places, rather pre-fabricated than founded firmly upon the evidence. What, for instance, is the basis for the distinction between 'important manuscripts' and mere manuscripts (pp. 225-6)? What are we to make of remarks such as 'The only other women of the twelfth century whose writings have survived were also German nuns' (p. 13)? H o w are we to take such a statement as 'there istittledoubt that the material [of the Physicae and Causae et curae] bears Hildegard's own stamp' (p. 105) when we are certain neither of the sources of these treatises nor, come to that, of their absolute authenticity? Many of the passages in Hildegard's medical works leap to the eye, in fact as simple extracts from old fashioned and familiar monastic compendia. The Latin Liber vitae meritorum does not mean in English 'Book of life's merits' (p. 8), but 'Memorial book of meritorious actions', a very different matter. 'Recluditur' does not inevitably imply 'literally walled up in her cell' (preface). Widows, as 'castitatis imitatores', mere copiers, are far more sharply distinguished from the truly continent than the word 'followers' conveys (p. 66). 'Fide' (p. 67) is an adjective qualifying 'religio', not an adverb. There are some excellent renderings, particularly of the songs, but slips such as these are unnerving. Finally, the conceptual framework of the book seems to be, for the most part, that of a woman struggling hard within a world of men. However, arguably, the fiercest of Hildegard's struggles, and the greatest of her ambitions, lay in the realm of theology, and took place in a world defined best less by gender than by intellectual and religious affiliation. This may be said too of her claims to prophetic and to preaching missions. O n all these larger matters, this book is weak. Hildegard ofBingen must be read, then, with wariness, and with a sharp eye for that which it passes by too hastily; but it must, of course, be read Valerie I. J. Flint Department of History University of Auckland Gardner-Medwin, Alisoun and Janet Hadley Williams, eds, A day estivall: essays on the music, poetry and history ofScotland and England and poems previously unpublished in honour of Helena Mennie Shire, Aberdeen, Aberdeen University Press, 1990; paper; pp. viii, 184; R.R.P. £14.90. 152 Reviews Eleven scholarly essays are placed between personal memoirs and poems. The compliment of gathering this 'posy of essays and poems' on topics about which Helena Mennie Shire has written is developed in numerous references to Dr Shire's own works and these fresh blooms offer much to interest the reader. The collection is framed by essays on Lyndsay, which extend our knowledge of the poet, and James V and James VI. The perceptive account of 'antique' and 'plesand' stories in Lyndsay's Dreme, given by Janet H. Williams, shows the place of heroic stories, prophecies, and comic nursery tales told by Lyndsay, the familiar servitor, to James V, the young monarch and young child. Marie Axton's meticulous examination of printers' documents, surviving copies, and the annotations of an English reader of Lyndsay's Satyre of ihe Thrie Estaitis suggests the differing reception of this work in Scotland and England, including the encouragement given by James VI. Lyndsay's influence is also mentioned in J. Derrick McClure's incisive assessment of the abilities and reception of James VI as poet. Reception and textual history are considered by Sally Mapstone, who examines M S R H 13/35, speculates on its circulation, and compares a section of The Thre Prestis of Peblis found there with other witnesses. Alasdair MacDonald's comments on James Logie Robertson's paraphrases of Dunbar's poems suggest the reception...