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REVIEWS125 his thinking about medieval autobiography. And speaking oflanguage as 'technology' or 'technique' without employing Ong to develop this idea is lamentable as well. Root's argument, which could have been tempered by the work of all three, evokes an unreviscd dissertation. In fact, it is a clumsily organized, lock-step narrative. Conversely, deft analyses of paintings by Rogier Van der Weyden and Pieter Bruegel the Elder do provide a backdrop to illustrate the growing influence ofconfession in daily life and the arts. And perceptive analyses ofthe poetry expose what must have been an obvious agenda for its authors who '[explicitly treated] confession and [appropriated] its discursive technique [because they] recognized the ideological assumptions of this institution and manipulated its routing of power' (88). As confession permeates all walks of life, we can find in the literature, ifwe know what we are looking for, 'the discourse of confession [that] has become the privileged language of the subject, a viable technology ofthe self (92). The plethora of ideas, diction, tropes and other gestures accounted for, once they are indicated, seem to be everywhere in various works of the fourteenth century. Root describes, in effect, how pervasive Christian mores were in the later MiddleAges . The most striking and informative irony in his study is its realization that, while confession is usually thought of as medieval, it makes modernity's egoism possible, but is only comprehensible in its own terms. Notably, the medieval literary characters 'that appear most modern are often the ones that have most vigorously embraced the technical apparatus of medieval confessional practice' (185). Root, then, has made credible the reading of medieval ex-cathedra literature within the very courtyard of Christ's chapel, by showing the full extent of its rhetorical reach, and thereby disclosing the underlying power relations between religious and secular spheres ofactivity. Thus Root takes us a step closer to our understanding the paradox ofseipsum or Individuum and communitas. BURT KIMMElMAN New Jersey Institute ofTechnology paul strohm, F.ngland's Empty Throne. Usurpation andthe Language ofLegitimation, 1399—1422. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1998. Pp. xiv, 274. isbn: 0-300-07544-8. $35. 'I hese studies have revolved around a succession of remarkably amnesiac texts. These are texts which stand dumb in relation to the past, expending much labor and ingenuity in the service of forgetfulness. Such amnesia may be seen as a general condition of textuality itself, with no text found reliable with regard to the whole truth ofits origins. Yet the condition offorgetfulness attains unusual dimensions in the Lancastrian period, when the scandalous and disturbing circumstances ofHenry IVs accession gave everybody (except a few diehard Ricardians) so much to forget' (196). Thus begins the conclusion of England's Empty Throne, which, as a successor volume to the highly influential Hochons Arrow (1992), confirms Paul Strohm's 126ARTHURIANA extraordinary ability to disclose and interpret elements of social and political contestation in texts produced in late medieval England, even (or especially) when such disclosure seems farthest from the overt intent oftheir composers or sponsors. England's Empty Throne—like HochonsArrow a collection ofdiscrete (albeit heremore closely related) essays, rather than a traditional monograph—explores the discursive challenges posed by the Lancastrian usurpation of1399 and the subsequent reigns of Henry IV and Henry V According to Strohm, the 'Lancastrian text'— whether it be official, ideologically partisan, or opportunistically complicit— 'straddles crisis after crisis of argumentative consistency. Whatever the skill or diplomacy of its author, [it] finds itself in such straits because of the deep selfcontradiction of its monarchs' political program and the sheer impossibility of its successful textualization' (191). In the process of considering a wide range of Lancastrian textual strategies, Strohm's analysis 'continually relies on an enabling paradox: that the places where a text has been most extensively rigged and reworked are the very places where the presence of an event-in-abcyance may be most crucially felt or surmised' (xiii). In order to flush out of its textual warren the 'event in abeyance,' Strohm deploys his familiarity with published and unpublished records ofthe period and ranges widely through a variety of discursive types and genres. The basic assumption that hebrings to 'literary' texts...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1934-1539
Print ISSN
1078-6279
Pages
pp. 125-127
Launched on MUSE
2015-04-01
Open Access
No
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