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128ARTHURIANA and convincingly deals with an impressive variety of genres. Attention to gender and ethnicity is carefully but very naturally maintained and contributes greatly to the generally satisfying tone of Thomas's discussion. Some background material may, however, strike the reader as unproblematized—e.g, the reasons for the Church's 'new openness' to women in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries (34). Of the later chapters, ? Literature ofTheir Own' examines writings for and by Bohemian women; such literary creation tended to parallel the realm's political fortunes, and flourished particularly in Charles IVs reign, when charismatic piety and patronage afforded women ample scope for literary activity. 'The War of the Bohemian Maidens' analyzes a legendary account of the realm's foundation and its permutations at the hands ofmale writers who made the maidens symbols ofwomen's loquacity, a change Thomas relates to women's resort to the vernacular. 'Alien Bodies' employs a close reading of an obscene poem, 'The Ointment Seller,' to establish Czech writers' use of body imagery to construct and exclude the otherness of Jews, women and Germans. The LegendofSaintProcopius, studied in ? Bohemian Imitano Christi,' alludes to Charles IVs restoration ofthe Slavonic liturgy. The complex late medieval image ofwoman as virgin, mother and teacher emerges from 'The Radiant Rose,' an analysis of the Life ofSaint Catherine, possibly written for Queen Anne's mother, Empress Anne of Schweidnitz. In 'Bohemian Knights,' Thomas turns to Czech adaptations ofGerman romance and epic. Arguing that the middle class was the intended audience, he sees the mutations of chivalry in these works as indicative of changing attitudes toward monarchy in the late fourteenth century, when royal power was waning in Bohemia. Comparing the Czech The New Council to other works that substitute animals for human beings—including Chaucer's Parliament ofFowb—'From Courtier to Rebel' identifies an ambiguity that Thomas relates to antagonism toward Queen Anne's feckless brother Wenceslas. 'Writing and the Female Body' explores a series ofsmaller works to expound Czech writers' use of'the female body as a metaphor for good and evil, and to advance claims to truth. In a brief epilogue, Thomas stresses continuity and change in fourteenth-century Czech vernacular literature, and concludes that the strengths it developed then allowed it to re-assert itself after the Hussite Revolution. Even if Anne's Bohemia does not provide much information about Anne of Bohemia herself, it can hardly be bettered as an introduction to Czech authors' concerns and methods and to their audience's reception oftheir works. The discussion is brisk, well informed and informative, and will amply reward interest in the cultural traditions Anne of Bohemia represented. JOHN CARMI PARSONS University ofToronto diane watt, ed., Medieval Women in Their Communities. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1998. Pp. xii, 250. isbn: 0-8020-8122-3. $19.95. As our knowledge ofthe history ofmedieval women continually expands, convincing REVIEWS129 synthesis has yet to be achieved; for the present, collections ofshort essays continue to offer the more valuable contributions to our understanding. This well-produced anthology is a helpful and worthy addition to the tradition. Watt's thoughtful introduction builds on Miri Rubin's remarks on community as 'discursively constructed...laden with aspirations and contests over interpretive power' (2). As a state, community is neither evident nor natural, its limits inexact. The term describes and constructs, excludes and includes, and may imply harmony where contention and strife are unavoidable actualities. Watt thus interrogates the idea, familiar from Caroline Bynum's work, that identity in the Middle Ages derived from community membership: do identities arise from a primary affinity, or at the convergence of many factors—gender, class, age—and from shifting negotiations ofthese and other positions in the world? (Neither the introduction nor the book's ten essays consider whether such a web may be unique to an individual, nor what impact such uniqueness might have on self-perceptions.) Watt concludes (8-9) that medieval notions ofcommunity excluded women and that it is difficult to document them within communities, except female religious communities. The bulk of the essays thus deal, directly or broadly, with women and religion. They do not consider all sorts of medieval communities, but offer 'derailed small...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1934-1539
Print ISSN
1078-6279
Pages
pp. 128-130
Launched on MUSE
2015-04-01
Open Access
No
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