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REVIEWS121 devoted to him, the thirteenth-century Middle Dutch The Romance ofMorien, does appear in the Encyclopedia and appears here as well. Included also are Queen Belacane of Zazamanc in Africa and Zoroaster of Arabia, as well as Saracens from Turkey. Incidental figures they maybe, but their inclusion as elements ofthe Arthurian myth, in a reference work devoted to this story so essential to European civilization, underlines the need to make them part of the popular imagination. Cross references between names would have been a welcome addition for easy linking. As it stands, however, this Arthurian Name Dictionary is itselfa valuable tool for study and enjoyment ofan already-essential myth of our civilization and greatly to be recommended to individual readers and libraries alike. JACQUELINE DE WEEVER Brooklyn College, CUNY JOHN conlee, ed., ProseMerlin. TEAMS Middle English Texts. Kalamazoo, Michigan: Medieval Institute Publications, 1998. Pp. viii, 400. isbn: 1-58044-015-0. $20. The Middle English Prose Merlin (as it is usually called) has not had a good press. This is understandable enough in a translation of the second romance in a cycle whose other parts have not been available in English, and neither ofwhose surviving manuscripts includes the last few pages. Failure to achieve complete literary autonomy, however, seems unlikely to be the main cause of the Merlin's neglect. One factor will be that, especiallywhen compared to Malory's story ofArthur's early years, the Merlin looks very derivative. It is so close to its original that Alexandre Micha, in a study (in Romania 79 [1958]) not cited in the bibliography of this edition, was able to place that original precisely within the French manuscript tradition. The main problem, however, seems likely to be that the Merlin has only been available in a grim fourvolume late nineteenth-century Early English Text Society edition that embodied the Victorian view of the primacy of the work, with no concessions to the human weaknesses of the worker. John Conlee has remedied that situation. His attractive new edition ofthe Merlin makes every allowance for human weakness. The most important one, which is regrettably not signaled in the title or on the covers, is that by summarizing fortyfour passages, including the missing bit at the end, he has reduced the work to the size of a modern novel. It is also presented like a novel: the text is divided into chapters with editorially-supplied titles, with an attractive type-face, wide margins, and modern punctuation. The result is a pleasure to use, and should encourage readers to plunge into the narrative. Thosewho hesitate on the brink, whether general readers or the student audience at which the book is aimed, will find encouragement in the short sensible introduction and select bibliography, the minimum of glosses (very well done, and where students like them, at the foot of the page), and the succinct, mainly historical notes at the back. The result must be commended for making so many fascinating stories readily accessible. Do you want the true story of Merlin (well, sort oftrue...), including the 122ARTHURIANA episode Burne-Jones had in mind when he painted The Beguiling ofMerlin? Would you like a version ofthe begetting ofMordred in which the lady is not (as in Malory) a scheming deceiver? What about the story of a female knight (a rarity in Middle English)? Are you interested in Sir Bertilak's early life, before he got to Hautdesert and started laying traps for Sir Gawain, or in the Devil-Cat ofLausanne (it may give you a whole new perspective on Jane Fonda's performance in Cat Baloo)? It's all here, and much more besides. Making all this available is a real service to literature. That said, it is a pity that the Uther and Igerne story should have been abbreviated (at both ends); that no use seems to have been made ofthe second manuscript, short as it is; and that the Bibliography omits Carole Meale's important treatment of the English Prose Merlin texts in Arthurian Literature /^(1985), and gives Wace's Roman de Rou instead of his Roman de Brut. Dr. Conlee apparently meant to cite the old S.A.TF Roman de Brut, but his...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1934-1539
Print ISSN
1078-6279
Pages
pp. 121-122
Launched on MUSE
2015-04-01
Open Access
No
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