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154 Reviews range ofmedieval Polish cuisine from Hungarian-Style Spit-Roasted Shoulder of Venison, described as 'fairly close to one of the ways in which venison was prepared at the Polish court, with special reference to Queen Jadwiga's fastidious passion for things Hungarian', to everyday peasant fare such as Gruel of Mixed Grains (pp. 197, 147). With each recipe, he provides details on who would most likely eat the dish as well as any concrete information he used to reconstruct the recipe and place it in its cultural context. Included in most recipes is information on when it would be served within a meal, how it would be served and often what contemporaries would have done with the leftovers. The recipe section details how specific dishesfitinto the lives of medieval Polish cooks and consumers. Food and Drink in Medieval Poland appeals to a wide audience. Those readers familiar with medieval Polish history gain a better understanding of the language of food as a political gesture or a social delineation between classes as well as a unifying force in a nascent sense of 'Polishness'. Anyone not overly familiar with the wider history of the period will benefit from the gastronomic narrative detailing ways of incorporating food into a multi-ethnic and progressive society to forge a Polish identity. All readers will enjoy experiencing the cuisine as the recipes are not only workable but carry their stories with every bite. Andrea Cast Department ofHistory University ofAdelaide Echard, Sian, Arthurian Narrative in the Latin Tradition (Cambridge Studies in Medieval Literature 36), Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1998; cloth; pp. xi, 256; R R P AUD$125. This reviewer must begin by confessing a prejudice. Though there have been signs, in recent years, of a modest and gradual renaissance, medieval Latin still suffers deplorable neglect even among scholars of literature w h o should, one imagines, most readily recognise its value. It has two main enemies: the hidebound classicists (a breed fast disappearing, gratias Deo), and the scholars of the vernaculars who thrust Latin aside as an inconvenientrivalto their chosen tongue. The result of this two-pronged attack is a significant historical and literary distortion, as a result of which much good Latin writing remains, by and large, virtually ignored. It seems incredible but is nevertheless no doubt true that there Reviews 155 are those who would have the Strasbourg Oaths, in all their banality, by heart, as the harbinger of their beloved French, while remaining wholly ignorant of the enormous body of fine Latin writing that preceded or succeeded those miserable declarations of petty regionalism. So Sian Echard's admirable book is immediately appealing, a champion in a noble cause. Her major achievement is to demonstrate firmly and convincingly that Latin literature occupied a place at the centre of the cultural life ofthe Angevin court, not as an artificial and eccentric indulgence for scholarly clerics, but as a perfectly natural mode of creative expression. This is difficult for us to envisage nowadays, but perhaps the situation of a m o d e m Indian writer may illustrate the choice available to a writer of the twelfth century: if Vikram Seth chooses to write in English rather than in Hindi (or one of the other languages of the Subcontinent) his reasons for doing so may be simple or complex, but mere academic affectation will certainly not be one of them. And so in the high Middle Ages a writer might well choose Latin as his exclusive medium, or the vernacular, or both as the mood takes him, but his use of Latin will be firmly within the cultural framework of the time, subject to exactly the same influences as any vernacular work, and entirely well placed, in turn, to influence later work in either Latin or the vernacular. A century later Dante, of course, could move easily between Latin and his own vernacular, without even perhaps regarding the two as anything other than modalities or registers of the same 'romance' tongue. In a word, then, Latin writing was mainstream. This Echard illustrates by particular reference to a number of Latin writings dealing with the Arthurian cycle. She concentrates on works by Geoffrey of Monmouth...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1832-8334
Print ISSN
0313-6221
Pages
pp. 154-156
Launched on MUSE
2013-04-03
Open Access
No
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