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230 Reviews and the nobility developed an intricate web of mutual dependence, punctuated with conflicts and disputes. The result is a valuable, if fragmentary, picture of the complex ways in which medieval society worked, and a strong incentive for further explorations of this kind. Toby Burrows Scholars' Centre The University of Western Australia Utz, Richard and Shippey, T o m eds., Medievalism in the Modern World, Essays in Honour of Leslie J. Workman (Making the Middle Ages 1), Turnhout, Brepols, 1998, board; pp. xiv, 452; 1 b/w illustration; R R P not known; ISBN 2-503-50166-2. Though of relatively recent origin (its flagship journal, Studies in Mediev was founded in 1976) the idea of medievalism has become so familiar a part of literary studies that it is difficult to realise what an original concept it was and how much it had to struggle to penetrate the academic world. This new anthology of articles, afestschrift for the man w h o apparently had the idea in thefirstplace, Leslie J. Workman, offers a welcome opportunity to pause and reflect on the beginnings of medievalism and its current vitality. The five sections into which the anthology is divided form a taxonomy of thefieldof medievalism as it has developed over the last 25 years. The first section, '"Watersheds" Re-Examined', contains essays looking at specific historical moments in the pre-industrial past when ideas about the medieval were significantly defined. Theresa Ann Sears writes persuasively about the chronicles of Spanish explorations, including those of Columbus, and their role in shaping Spanish identity through their recourse to medieval techniques of authorship and authority. Bernard Rosenthal examines the evidence of the Salem witch trials to show how prosecutors found a 'medieval' past which justified the violence of the witch-hunts. In the second section, Appropriating the Past', the essays consider ways in which fictions of the medieval have been used to construct political 'truths', especially those relating to power and nationalism. While Roger Simpson provides some interesting answers to the question of why Arthur became a more popular English hero than St George, uncannily predicting the current revival of Reviews 231 St George as an icon ofEnglish nationalism, Urich Muller considers similar issues ofnationalism in relation to m o d e m Germany and its rediscovery of the medieval poet Walther von der Vogelweide. 'Bygone Medievalisms' is the rather whimsical title given to the group ofessays on medievalism in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Though this was the time when, according to Leslie Workman, the aesthetics of medievalism were virtually identical with those of Romanticism (at least in Britain), the essays steer clear of this equation and focus on specific authors and texts, such as T o m Shippey's careful history of the modern reception of an Old Norse poem, 'The Death Song ofRagnor Lodbrog', and Felicia Bonaparte's claim that Wilde's novel, The Picture ofDorian Gray, not only represents an Arnoldian view of art but is an essentially medieval tale, expressing Wilde's own fascination with the Middle Ages. Kathleen Verduin's article on E. M . Forster is the most broadly contextualised essay in this section, arguing for a link between medievalism and classicism in Forster's work. The section on 'Contemporary Medievalisms' follows on with twentiethcentury versions ofmedievalism, covering texts as diverse as thefilmsThe Seventh Seal and Gone With The Wind and the Danish music drama A Vigil for Thomas Becket, the latter discussed by its composer, Nils Holger Petersen. In this section there is a sense that the concept ofmedievalism is being stretched almost beyond the point of viability. Rosemary Welsh's claim that the film version of Gone With The Wind intersects with Celtic mythology and the annals ofthe 'ancient Irish' seems to be merely her own reading ofthe text rather than an example of 'the perception of the Middle Ages' in a later text, as Leslie Workman defined medievalism. Finally, 'Medievalism and the Academy' turns a navel-gazing view on the practices of medievalists themselves, showing how m o d e m scholars have constructed their o w n versions of the Middle Ages, and not always from transparent motives. Britton J. Harwood courageously (and...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1832-8334
Print ISSN
0313-6221
Pages
pp. 230-232
Launched on MUSE
2013-04-03
Open Access
No
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