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130ARTHURIANA bibliography of reviews and discussions: this is an incredibly valuable resource for scholars and teachers alike, and elevates this collection far above the usual published filmography. The supplementary material is kept to a minimum: this is both effective and refreshing for a collection of this sort. Rather than burden the volume with multiple appendices and lists of films by various categories, Harty has instead provided a comprehensive and easily used final index. Readers can access entries, through this one index, based on directors (e.g., Robert Bresson), on source materials (e.g., Sir Gawain andthe Green Knight), actors (e.g., Sean Connery), common characters (e.g., Guinevere, Tristan and Isolde) and, ofcourse, titles (actual or alternate). Also included is a brief bibliography of earlier catalogues and discussions of 'medieval film.' Most importantly, Harty's introduction is concise, interesting, infinitely readable and informative, and of use to a wide variety of readers. He contextualizes 'medieval films' in the history of film generally, discussing the status and appeal ofthis body of films, which, while not quite a genre in itself, is nevertheless a film phenomenon. His introduction, though general enough to be appropriate for non-specialists (film or medieval), is nevertheless critically astute and insightful, raising and addressing the questions ofthe way(s) in which films about the Middle Ages function in society. This is a beautiful book, easy to use and a pleasure to read—an unusual description for an encyclopaedic study of this sort. As I prepared this review, I found myself browsing for long periods oftime, enjoying and appreciating Harty's analyses, admiring the stills (some of which, like the full-page frontispiece image of Margarete Schön from Fritz Lang's 1924 Die Nibelungen, took my breath away), and compiling my own new list of 'must-sees.' Who should own this study? Certainly, its value for medievalists who wish to incorporate film into their research or classes is immediately apparent; equally, its appeal for any interested film-goer is clear. But, for those with an ongoing interest and desire to think about how the Middle Ages was and continues to be imagined in contemporary culture, this survey is essential. JACQUELINE JENKINS University of Calgary IAN macleod higgins, Writing East: The TravehofSirfohnMandeville. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1997. Pp. 336. isbn: 0-8122-3343-3. *49·95· In Writing East Ian Macleod Higgins treats the great diversity of texts that we collectively call Mandeville's Travels, exploring the revisions, translations, and transformations that the various unknown redactors made. He also traces the work's revisions of its two main sources, William of Boldensele's Liber and Odoric of Pordenone's ReUtio. Collectively, Higgins refers to his method of engagement as 'dialogic,' for the text at hand is itself, 'a dialogic summa oflore about the East...and thus a representative witness to Latin Christendom's actual and imagined relations with other cultures'(i4). As Higgins explains, the complex status ofthis text in literary history demands such an approach: 'the Book ofJohn Mandeville is textually multiple as well, characterized both by its typically medieval intertextuality and by its own distinctive intratextual multiplicity'^). Tb study these complex relations, Higgins REVIEWS131 often offers dense micro-comparisons of the variant texts, and he often falls into listing nuanced differences that obtain when we put the various 'isotopes' side by side. Higgins paints the streaks on the tulip as no other Mandeville scholar has done. But such an approach has its price, for the prose, so full ofparentheticals, asides, and citations of sources, is rough going, and we quickly lose the forest for the trees. The book's main failing is that its central argument is a defense of its method: Higgins wants us to see the texts in 'parallax'(265), and though this method sensitizes us to a spectrum ofideological differences across the texts, no larger critical argument about Mandeville emerges beyond the recognition ofthe complex variance and multiplicity of the TraveL·. Lists ofparallel comparisons clog up the prose, making it frustratingly turgid. Higgins is at his best when he steps back from such surveys and allows us to feel the drama and, frankly, the wonderment of the adventurous story. One of the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1934-1539
Print ISSN
1078-6279
Pages
pp. 130-132
Launched on MUSE
2015-04-01
Open Access
No
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