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Reviews Archibald, Elizabeth and A. S. G. Edwards, ed., A Companion to Malory (Arthurian Studies 37), Cambridge, D. S. Brewer, 1996; cloth; pp. xv, 262; 1 colour plate; R.R.P. £29.50, US$51.00 (cloth),£16.99, US$30.00 (paper). A Companion to Malory will be a major influence on students of Le Morte Darthur for the next generation, m u c h as Essays on Malory ed. Bennett (1963) and Aspects of Malory ed. Takamiya and Brewer (1981) each has been in its o w n time. This book aims to put the reader up to date with Malory scholarship in editing, language studies, source studies and biography, whilst also offering five readings of individual sections. There are other thematic essays on chivalry, the place of women in Malory, and the context of civil war, and a concluding study of reception, together with a very brief selective bibliography. A good index includes a useful list of references to Malory tales. Undergraduates will probably seek out first the critical essays on particular sections of the Morte, and then those on favourite essaytopics —chivalry, women. The long-term influence of the book m a y lie more in a study like Carol Meale's on 'Editing and the Creation of Meaning in Malory's Text'. This takes the issue of structure in Malory PARERGON ns 15.2 (January 1998) 146 Reviews back to the Winchester manuscript's lay-out and decoration. Meale makes a clear case for her n e w four-fold division of the Morte, but is informative about others' views also. By way of example, she demonstrates the telling difference between her text-divisions and those of Vinaver's 'Books Seven and Eight'. It is also a fine short study of Caxton as Malory's editor and marketer, and on the likely interrelation of those roles. Another excellent essay is Felicity Riddy's on 'Contextualizing Le Morte Darthur: Empire and Civil War'. Riddy reads the Morte as an ideological response to the loss of France and the declining role of the aristocracy. Yet, she concludes, the response contains traces of its own failure: 'the reign of Arthur is taken out of Geoffrey [of Monmouth]'s generational sequence to become a signifier of aristocratic crisis, of a failure to project a future'. For Riddy, this is above all the Death of Arthur. She offers a good antidote to standard 'chivalric' readings, preferring to see the n e w knightly class as 'conquistadores', in Colin Richmond's phrase, the rising masters of the age, anxious for an aura of gentility. This provocative piece—it calls the deaths of Arthur and Mordred 'mutual murders'—takes the moral discussion of the Morte into broader historical territory, well beyond the usual analysis of individual conduct. Richard Barber gathers together some material valuable for the student, but spends too long on the literary-chivalric background to Malory for the relatively short comments he makes on the Morte's place in fifteenth-century culture. His article in Arthurian Studies XII has m u c h more to say directly on the topic. Elizabeth Edwards, writing on Malory's w o m e n , weaves insights from Catherine La Farge and Patricia Parker into her o w n skilful commentary on the gendered spaces of court and forest. She helpfully disturbs the over-neatness of some gender divisions—inside/outside, immobile/mobile, terse/ verbose, etc.—by her breadth of textual knowledge and subtlety of analysis. The complex Tristram book figures interestingly here, and Edwards argues persuasively for a new development of female subjectivity in the 'pathetic' heroines of the Morte's later stages. Terence McArthy contributes a sound essay on 'Malory and his Sources', with the warning not to 'seek to strip away what has been Reviews 147 borrowed in order to discover ... [Malory's] original contribution'. H e accordingly takes issue with instances in Vinaver where Malory is treated as one w h o simply gets the French text wrong. P. J. C. Field's chapter on 'The Malory Life-Records' is backed by great authority; short descriptions of the 120 documents are very helpfully listed in chronological order; there is a...


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