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Reviews 197 Within the parameters of Akehurst's o w n intentions, I can find nothing to fault in this n e w translation. M y only criticisms relate to my desire for more. Akehurst's introductory discussion is at times fascinating, for example his mention of the effects of metonymy and synecdoche in altering legal terms in his section on 'Language and Style' (p. xUii) which suggests so m a n y interesting but unexplored issues. W h U e this is a matter of personal interest, it does point fo m y other desire for this text, which was to have the original Old French included. Akehurst points out that scholars wanting to follow can do so in VioUet's edition, but as I indicated earlier, not all scholars have access to this text, leaving us without recourse to our o w n interpretation of the subtle ambiguities to which Akehurst refers. Jennifer Smith Department of History University of Western Australia Forni, Pier Massimo, Adventures in Speech: Rhetoric and Narration in Boccaccio's Decameron (Middle Ages Series), Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1996; cloth; pp. xiv, 155; R.R.P. US$29.95. If the characteristic flaw of the PhD-turned-book is an overambitious thesis, then the mark of its natural successor, the collected lecture notes, m a y be a grab-bag lack of occasion. I do not k n o w if Adventures in Speech, Pier Massimo Form's second book on the Decameron, has these origins. But it reads as a pleasant series of lectures which give a sort of beginner's guide to the Decameron and contain a number of small oddments, with textual glosses and useful references to sources, and I can imagine the students scribbling wUdly. It is primarily to undergraduate students, especially to those cribbing for essays, that the book wUl appeal. Its value to a more discerning audience m a y be compromised by several factors. The arrangement of information is ad hoc. What structure there is is based on the theme of rhetoric, but this is given a narrow scope. The understanding of narrative verges on the naive, and a lot of space is given over to reteUing the story. This last is 198 Reviews beyond m y comprehension. It is Uke trying to show that Raphael was a great artist, by doing quick sketches of some of his works. Only a consummate story teUer could hope to improve on Boccaccio. Forni is not, and the effect is only to frustrate the reader by recycling gold as base metal, especiaUy when the point he is making is yet again ad hoc. This would be a better and shorter book without it. Few people, even among specialist academic audiences, read the Decameron today. The starting point to find out about it must be a good edition of the text itself. A secondary source performs its function only after that, by illuminating the w a y the text is constructed and works, or by using the text to throw light on late medieval society and ideas, or more general themes such as rhetoric, imagination, and realism. There are few general themes in Adventures in Speech. One is supposed to be rhetoric. Forni states that he 'uses the notion of rhetoric as a guiding principle for a critical assessment of the entire Decameron'. His work is divided in three, and each part has 'rhetoric' in thetitle.But the treatment of rhetoric is surprisingly casual. By authorial fiat, Forni decrees that 'in this study, the term "rhetoric" refers to the toolkit of discursive strategies and techniques available to any given author at any given time', and that is the end of the matter. It is patently evident that rhetoric means different things to different people. In its common, perforative sense, it is anything eloquent and high-sounding which is thereby also insincere (the word 'empty' is often added). As an intended remedy to this perceived bankruptcy of the term, since the 1960s some departments of literature pursued a 'new' rhetoric, which consisted of aU the figures and tropes carefuUy Usted, but in a blind application of McLuhan they were turned in on...


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