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250 Reviews used by the author of the Liber monstrorum, and the earliest of these English manuscripts, London, British Library Royal 13.A.i forms the basis of the Latin text printed in Appendix Ha. In the final chapter, Orchard teases out numbers of significant parallels between Grettis saga and Beowulf, leading to the conclusion that both works draw on a c o m m o n 'narrative paradigm' and that Beowulf and Grettir have a c o m m o n prototype derived from an independent oral source. The tragic pattern of the saga in which the monster-fighting hero becomes progressively identified with the creatures he fights, and ends up being kiUed as a 'monster' himself, has suggestive impUcations for Beowulf. Paul Sorrell Dunedin Parsons, John Carmi and Bonnie Wheeler, ed., Medieval Mothering (The N e w Middle Ages 3), N e w York and London, Garland, 1996; board; pp. xvu, 384; 8 b / w Ulustrations; R R P US$ 60.00. CoUections of essays, by their very nature, run the risk of being appreciated in a manner that is, at best, piecemeal. This should not be the fate of Medieval Mothering. The editors are to be congratulated on the sensitivity with which they have placed the essays in linked groupings, and the individual contributors on their scholarship. The nineteen essays are short and highly readable and, as well as being insightful, provide exceUent guidelines for future study. One of the stated aims of the coUection is to provide a 'wide informative base' for later theorising on the topic of mothering (p. xvi). The essays themselves meet this aim by providing provocative readings of their chosen texts and the notes that accompany them constitute a soUd bibUography on which further research can be based. 'Mothering' is defined here as a nurturing practice that is not exclusively dependent on biological maternity or even exclusively female. Those w h o are 'mothered' are, similarly, not exclusively biologically related to the 'motherer' nor are they exclusively infants. The texts considered are from a range of genres: phUosophical and medical writings, historical material, saga and romance, and painting. The interdisciplinary base Reviews 251 is therefore a strong one. The documentary and literary texts are written in Latin, English, German, French, Spanish and Old Norse and thus provide a broad national and cultural base. It is beyond the scope of this review and the competence of this reviewer to offer a critique of each of the nineteen essays. The contents are signaUed by the editorial remarks in the introduction to the volume and in the brief summaries that precede each contribution. The strength of this book is the sum of the essays rather than its separate components and the reader interested in exploring the topic would be well advised to take in the whole rather than confining their attention to those which address disciplines or genres with which they are famiUar. Broadly, the volume takes the issue of the nurturing in chronological order, from the nurture inside the w o m b of the biological mother, through to the nurturing of grown persons, both sons and daughters, by biological mothers, foster mothers and other carers, hi what foUows I wiU refrain from naming the individual authors, except to remark that it was unfortunate for Stephen Grundy that his concluding comments were cut short by some technical error that, no doubt, has already been addressed in an errata list (p. 234). There are some approaches to the concept of mothering here that are already well known in medieval studies. Julian of Norwich and the idea of Jesus as Mother, for example, make their appearance and add to the ongoing discourse. Some mythologies about the coldness of medieval parents and the uncaring behaviour of fosterers are chaUenged in a number of essays that stress the strong emotional bonds forged between fostered children and their surrogate mothers. Those parents w h o sent their children away are seen to have done so with the best possible motives and with the interests of the future prosperity of their offspring at heart. W e must remember, of course, that these are specific success stories, and that there are...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1832-8334
Print ISSN
0313-6221
Pages
pp. 250-253
Launched on MUSE
2013-04-03
Open Access
No
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