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Reviews 127 ofBenedetto's entrepreneurial activities as a peasant determined to improve his financial position. In addition to farming his own scattered holdings, he worked other farms as a sharecropper, bought and sold small parcels of land, and then in 1466 purchased a substantial farm for the large sum of 900 florins. Other substantial activities included operating a lime kiln and dealing in lime, wine andfirewood.The oppressive taxation of the Sienese state thwarted his efforts, and substantial debts had reduced his holdings by the time of his death 'a bit before 1502'. The poverty ofhis descendants is illustrated by their disappearance from history after 1580. A. Lynn Martin Department ofHistory The University of Adelaide Beidler, Peter G. and Elizabeth M . Biebel, eds., Chaucer's Wife of Bath's Prologue and Tale: An Annotated Bibliography, 1900-1995 (The Chaucer Bibliographies 6), Toronto, University ofToronto Press, 1998; cloth; pp. lxii, 358; R R P US$85, £63.75. This ordered bibliography of some 1458 items and covering a period from the 1860s to 1996 is the sixth to be issued in a series of some 18 full volumes described as 'a complete listing and assessment of scholarship and criticism on the writings of Geoffrey Chaucer ... and on his life,times,and historical context' (p. ix). The already issued bibliographies treat of either a minor aspect of the whole corpus of scholarship, of a single tale - actually that of the Knight - or of a cluster oftales having their genres' and tellers' rank of a like sort. The present survey, of the Wife of Bath's Prologue and Tale, extends the now published coverage of the Canterbury Tales by taking up one of the most studied and varyingly interpreted of Chaucer's portraits. A n obvious feature of this ordered anthology of critical dicta - for every item is judiciously assessed for its slant, as well as being meticulously referenced - is the fullness of the annotation, something much enhanced by the groupings, each ordered sequentially with any reprints or later/differing format publication clearly and succinctly indicated. The large sections contain the following chronological clusters, with the numbered items indicated: Editors and Translations (1-82); Sources, Analogues, and Alisoun (83-206); Marriage Group 128 Reviews (207-256); Gentilesse (257-279); Alisoun in the General Prologue (280-416); Wife ofBath s Prologue - in sequential periods - (417-1066); The Wife ofBath's Tale - in sequential periods - (1066-1458). The introduction contains several helpful sequential subsections which in considerable part refocus on aspects of thefifthportion, namely: Alisoun's appearance; artistic renditions; Alisoun and pilgrimage groupings; the significant details of Alisoun's portrait; and her performance itself. Within these large categories there are numerous comments in the introduction that help us to more specific topics, such as the significance of the references to the gap between her teeth (p. xxxvi) or to her advancing age (p. xxxix). However, this quest for the particular is more than met by the sumptuous index, with its many hundreds of items of names of critics, historical figures, earlier texts, tropes, scholars, etc. Apart from the largest themes, many recurring ones have references in excess of thirty, as with: analogues, anti-feminism, astrology, authority, or carnality, class, comedy, confession and criticism, or desire, feminine, digressions, economics, exemplum and experience. But there is a pleasing paradox in all of these riches - the ordered bibliography and its thematic groups of items alike assist in the reader gaining luminous overviews, as well as an awareness of the battleground for the various (often American) m o d e m schools of scholarship/modes of interpretation and of the now periodic returns to and reappraisals of classical critical stances - as with those ofKittredge, Root, or Currie, or the now 'orthodox' views of M . Bowden. Thus 'sources', performance, the marriage theme/group and the life are succeeded by the question as to whether w e are to read Alisoun as a 'real person' with a psychological profile, as an iconographic figure of carnality, as a caricature of a middle-class w o m a n whose energies have made her anomalous in a society where most keep their place, or merely as 'a literary artifact with nothing recoverable behind...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1832-8334
Print ISSN
0313-6221
Pages
pp. 127-129
Launched on MUSE
2013-04-03
Open Access
No
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