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Reviews 217 lost work, A Cruel Murder Done in Kent (entered 1577), m a y be a version of Arden's death, antedating Holinshed's account, and the source for the lost play Murderous Michael, performed at court in 1579, and perhaps later reworked as Arden of Faversham. The author, Bradshaw suggests, was Thomas Lodge, w h o had connections to the pubUsher of both texts, White, and to Kent. In this particular item, and throughout Hyde's o w n work, there is a scrupulous laying out of evidence, without the urge to press a particular thesis: drawing of conclusions is left to the reader. Ann Blake School of EngUsh La Trobe University Kelly, Henry Angsar, Chaucerian Tragedy (Chaucer Studies 24), Cambridge, D. S. Brewer, 1997; cloth; pp. 297; R.R.P. £45.00, US$78.00. Henry Ansgar KeUy has written extensively on the subject of tragedy in the Middle Ages, most fuUy in his Ideas and Forms of Tragedy from Aristotle to the Middle Ages, and readers of that and other works wiU find much that is famiUar here, particularly in the opening chapters. KeUy begins with a point he has been at pains to develop elsewhere, that 'tragedy', both the word and the genre, 'was a rarity in the Middle Ages'. H e then moves on immediately to credit Chaucer with being the modern founder of the genre, which was taken up by Lydgate and Henryson, and which leads, via A Mirrorfor Magistrates, to Shakespeare. To that rather abbreviated Uterary history, KeUy adds a somewhat provocative description of his overaU approach as ' "postavant -garde"; for I see myself as forging (or foraging) ahead of the cutting edge of Uterary discourse and, at the same time, doing overlooked but necessary spadework behind the vanguard'. This act of self-positioning concludes with a swipe at postmodern theorists, who are 'actively or even miUtantly uninterested in criticism itself'. It makes a rather curious opening to what is, for the most part, a sober and scholarly account of the background of Chaucerian tragedy; and whUe KeUy is probably right about the lack of interest postmodern 218 Reviews theorists show in criticism (and at times in literature, one might add), the polemical tone of his first paragraphs is at odds with most of his text. One other point about Kelly's introduction deserves to be made. The phrase 'Chaucerian tragedy' will call to mind the 1952 article with that title by D. W . Robertson, but Robertson's is one of the extreme views which Kelly beUeves to be misguided. Kelly summarises Robertson's view as one which attributes moral fault to aU the subjects of Chaucer's tragedies; against that, he maintains that Chaucer's idea of tragedy 'allows for all kind of faUs, self-induced and otherinduced '. Kelly argues that Chaucer's basic notion of tragedy was derived from glossed copies of the Consolation of Philosophy, in particular, from Book II. pr. 2: 'Quis tragediarum clamor aliud deflet nisi indiscreto ictu Fortunam felicia regna vertentem?' As an aside, i t is worth noting that this is not 'Fortune's rhetorical question', as Kelly describes it, but a rhetorical question which Philosophy imagines Fortune asking. For that reason, it is relevant to consider what else Philosophy has to say about Fortune—and that is precisely what Robertson attempted to do in his earUer essay. H e too derived his understanding of Chaucer's idea of tragedy from the Consolation, but from a wider consideration of the nature of Fortune and the relationship between Fortune and free will. Whether Robertson's interpretation is right or not, it should have been addressed more fully than it is here. After this somewhat unsatisfactory introduction, Kelly proceeds in m u c h more compelling fashion to discuss some of the background to the English examples of the genre, with particular attention to Boccaccio's De casibus—what Kelly calls Boccaccio's 'non-tragedies'. H e argues that Boccaccio could not have considered his narratives as tragedies, since Boccaccio (more learned than Chaucer) had a clear idea of what the genre involved, and knew that his o w n work lacked the essential characteristic of composition...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1832-8334
Print ISSN
0313-6221
Pages
pp. 217-220
Launched on MUSE
2013-04-03
Open Access
No
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