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Reviewed by:
  • Middle English Religious Writing in Practice: Texts, Readers, and Transformations ed. by Nicole R. Rice
  • Alexandra Barratt
Rice, Nicole R., ed., Middle English Religious Writing in Practice: Texts, Readers, and Transformations (Late Medieval and Early Modern Studies,21), Turnhout, Brepols, 2013; hardback; pp. x, 278; 2 b/w illustrations; R.R.P. €75.00, ISBN 9782503541020.

This collection of eight essays considers various later Middle English devotional texts (mainly prose) and their uses and adaptations during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Part I, 'Continental Religious Women in English Practice', opens with Jennifer N. Brown on the fates, in manuscript and print, of three English translations of texts associated with Catherine of Siena: a letter from the head of the Grande Chartreuse, supporting her canonization, Raymond of Capua's life of the saint, and the Orchard of Syon. Michael G. Sargent unravels the complexities of the French and English textual traditions of Marguerite Porete's Mirouer des simples âmes, and details the extraordinary story of the text's treatment in the twentieth century. Martha W. Driver considers John Audelay's verse prayer to St Birgitta of Sweden, found in Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Douce 302, in its liturgical and devotional contexts.

In Part II, 'Manuscript Compilation and the Adaptation of Religious Practice', Mary Agnes Edsall writes on the fifteenth-century Fyler Manuscript (San Marino, Huntington Library, MS HM 744), belonging to a family of merchants, and its antecedents. Nicole R. Rice describes Cambridge, Jesus College, MS Q. D. 4 and Cambridge, Cambridge University Library, MS Ii. 4. 9, fifteenth-century clerical collections of pastoralia, both containing copies of The Abbey of the Holy Ghost and The Charter of the Abbey of the Holy Ghost.

Part III, 'Negotiating Orthodoxy: Revision, Circulation, Annotation', contains Moira Fitzgibbons on the 'interplay' (p. 182) between the early fifteenth-century Dives and Pauper and the late fourteenth-century Pore Caitif. Stephen Kelly and Ryan Perry write on Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Laud Misc. 23, an anthology of texts of religious instruction with theologically mixed allegiances, which contains the unique copy of a 'radical' (p. 230) unedited sermon, possibly written for Wycliffite readers, on the nature of the Christian community. Margaret Connolly concludes with an essay on the book ownership and reading in the mid-sixteenth century of two generations of the Roberts family of Middlesex. They owned, and used, at least eight extant books which, Margaret Connolly suggests, were acquired following the dissolution of local monasteries. [End Page 274]

This collection provides a useful cross-section of current work in this area, with a welcome emphasis on manuscript studies.

Alexandra Barratt
University of Waikato


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