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

110arthuriana p.j.c. field, Malory: Texts and Sources. Arthurian Studies XL. Woodbridge, Suffolk and Rochester, N.Y: Boydell & Brewer, 1998. Pp. x, 313. isbn: 0-85991-5360. $90. Malory: Text and Sources assembles twenty-three essays which the learned and assiduous P.J.C. Field published separately in edited collections and scholarly journals between 1972 and 1996. As one would expect from the reviser of The Works ofSir Thomas Malory cd. Eugene Vinaver, Third Edition, a concern with the texts ofboth Caxton and Winchester dominates a number of essays, including "I he Earliest Texts of Malory's Morte Darthur,' 'Author, Scribe and Reader in Malory: The Case of Harleuse and Peryne,' and 'Malory's Place-Names: Westminster Bridge and Virvyn.' Several essays are combative in tone. 'Caxton's Roman War' deals with an academic controversy initiated at the Exeter Arthurian Congress in 1975 when a paper by William Matthews proposed that Malory himself revised from a longer account the version of the Roman war which Caxton printed. Charles Moorman's defence of the theory, published in Arthuriana (5.2 Summer, 1995), Field, relying on Yuji Nakao's statistical proof, condemns as 'inaccurate,' 'implausible,' and 'false.' Claude Luttrell's complaint that the hunt associated with Arthur's wedding feast is obscure and confused in the Morte compared with its French source (Arthurian Literature IX, 1989) is countered in 'Hunting, Hawking and Textual Criticism in Malory's Morte Darthur.' Not only had the English author developed a different kind ofstory-telling technique, one that aimed at conciseness, speed, and heightened suspense, but his own expertise in hunting matters led him to add realistic details that departed from the French source. Moreover, some discrepancies can be blamed on scribal error. Medievalists are suigeneris hypothesists. Expressions such as 'perhaps,' ' suppose,' 'would have had to have been,' 'something very like it could well have appeared,' and 'a reasonable guess' are frequent throughout this collection. Sometimes the assumption of lost manuscripts and scribal additions or errors is used to support theories when mere coincidence might provide a more reasonable explanation. Consider Malory and The WeddingofSir Gawain andDame Ragnell which proposes Malory as the author of the metrical romance. In the fifteenth century when the London standard ofEnglish prevailed in written works and when the language had not yet been enriched by abundant Renaissance imports, a commonality ofdiction and expression, particularly in the romance genre, is more likely to explain the seven examples ofsimilar wording. Nor do the common motifs relating to hunting, marriage, and happy endings prove that one work was drawn from the other. One is also dubious about the number ofbooks that this impoverished knightprisoner , a military man not a scholar, is said to have known. Given that the 800 volume library ofCharles V, which the Duke ofBedford acquired in 1425, contained only thirteen Arthurian texts, it is unlikely that in addition to his five major French sources and two English metrical romances Malory could also have acquired Perlesvaus, Arthur and Merlin, The Avowing ofArthur, Lybeaus Desconus, Ywain and REVIEWS111 Gawain, the Suite de Merlin, Robert de Baron's Joseph, Chrétien de Troyes' Yvain, Lancelot and Erec, Sir Triamour, Girart d'Amiens' Escanor, not to mention Hardyng's Chronicle, Chaucer's Trodus, Knight's Tale' and 'Franklin's Talc' and other volumes as suggested in 'Malory's Minor Sources,' 'Malory and Perlesvaus! 'Malory and Chrétien de Troyes' et al—to which Field adds, Tt is unlikely that we yet have a full list.' On the subject ofwhat particular manuscripts constituted Malory's 'Frensshe bookes,' however, 'Malory and the French prose Lancelot' describes a procedure which might bring us closer to answering this perennial question. Using as his base the sixteen Lancelot manuscripts now in the British Isles along with Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale MSS fr. 119-20, Field compares the Malory text, episode by episode, with the French texts and tabulates significant agreements. The results indicate that in choosing as his yardstick London, British Library Additional MS. 10293, Vinaver 'could hardly have chosen worse.' Alexander Michas Lancelot, based on Oxford, Bodleian MS. Rawlinson D.899 is closer, giving a better image ofMalory's source manuscript 'which must have stemmed from early...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
1934-1539
Print ISSN
1078-6279
Pages
pp. 110-111
Launched on MUSE
2015-04-01
Open Access
No
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.