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BOOK REVIEWS75 Edward Foley reconstructs what we can know of the song of the assembly during Mass. The essays are of good quaUty. They are clearly written, and reveal a good knowledge of source materials, amply documented in the endnotes. In her introductory essay, Lizette Larson-MiUer underlines the relation of Uturgy to culture , and the pertinence of the history of liturgy to the history of the Middle Ages, as weU as to the discipline of theology.The points are weU taken, but are not given much expUcit attention in the essays gathered together.The one essay that truly relates the specific issue to its cultural milieu is that of Rabe on architecture . For the most part, the other authors give useful historical information, but without much of the kind of interpretation suggested by the editor.Their care with sources and historical accuracy is their best contribution to this larger conversation, and that in itself is important. WhUe the volume wiU be of most interest to students of medieval Uturgy, it could be of interest for a more general readership looking for information on the medieval Church. SpeciaUsts may weU find some new points ofinformation, but on a whole the book wiU best serve the student who wishes a fairly broad but concise knowledge of the Uturgies of the period, and of commentaries on them. For these students, it could serve as recommended reading in survey courses, that want to go beneath the surface and beyond the vaguely general. David N. Power, O.M.I. The Catholic University ofAmerica Medieval Death:Ritual and Representation. By Paul Binski. (Ithaca, NewYork: CorneU University Press. 1996. Pp. 224. $39.95.) This "essay" on "art, reUgion, society, the body, and ritual" resembles, in many ways,T. S. R. Boase's Death in the Middle Ages (NewYork, 1972). Both address general readers and students; the quality and diversity of their Ulustrations is comparable; and each has eleven fine color plates.What differentiates them is textual. For the most part, Boase let his photographs of memorials to the dead and depictions of the afterlife, funerals, the dance of death, and the ars moriendi, speak for themselves. He confined his analysis to an occasional indication of historical trends, and ended with a dismissive remark about the medieval "debasement of things spiritual to anthropomorphic crudities." Paul Binski has more to say, and his remarks are a good measure of the change in approach and tone that recent scholarship has brought to the interpretation of this fascinating material. Binski presents the Christian belief in the salvific power of Christ's death as the foundation of a Western European "medieval death culture" whose central feature was the doctrine of resurrection, and many ofwhose pecuUarities, from the cult of reUcs to the doctrine ofpurgatory and the art ofthe macabre, had to 76BOOK REVIEWS do "with the spiritual significance and representation of the body." He does not elucidate how this came to be, but he explores it in rich detaU, at least for the later Middle Ages. For example, Binski explains the history of late medieval memorials in terms of a "politics of space [and] the body" that led the wealthy and powerful to compete for recognition after death in increasingly crowded churches through ever more elaborate tombs and commemorative structures. The tension between such behavior and Christian ideals of penitence and humility led to the re-emergence of flat tomb slabs for floor burials—humble but unforgettable—as well as the radical iconography ofthe transi tomb,which 'was not a response to the anxieties of life in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, but "an internal development of medieval visual culture itself," its macabre representation ofthe cadaver a reaction against the false decorum ofgothic effigies and renaissance ideaUzations of the human form. The treatment of dead bodies, in this world and the next, and their representations in art, meant much to medieval Europeans, as they do to us. By focusing on the body as "an ambivalent sign" of the state of the soul—and the social standing of the deceased—and on the "transactional" nature of medieval funereal art, which engaged its viewers in a dialogue about suffrages and selfhood, Binski situates...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-0708
Print ISSN
0008-8080
Pages
pp. 75-76
Launched on MUSE
2016-10-05
Open Access
No
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