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Reviews 111 0 anima tribulata et a deo temptata', was printed in Migne's Patrologia Latina, attributed to Peter of Blois. It is probably not his, but is certainly not by Richard Rolle. Recent candidates for authorship are Hugh of St Cher or Gullielmus Peraldus. No. 649: ENCONTRE TRIBULATION. The Latin Tractatus given as the source of this text is the same as the source of No. 648. B L M S Royal 16. E xii is another (continental French) copy ofNo. 648. No. 942: There is an unpublished Middle English translation of this item in C U L M S Kk. 1. 6, made by thefifteenth-centuryIaywoman D a m e Eleanor Hull (d. 1460), probably from the version in B L Cottton Vitellius F vii. But let us be grateful that Dean and Boulton resisted the temptation to p publication until their work was incapable of improvement. This book will be invaluable to all those working in medieval English studies and should stimulate further work in the area. For instance, w e badly need an enterprising doctoral candidate to undertake for Anglo-Norman manuscripts the heroic task that Professor Ian Doyle's thesis on the circulation of theological writings in English performed for Middle English manuscripts 40 years ago. Make sure your university library buys this book, even if it does not subscribe to the Anglo-Norman Text Society. It is worth its weight in gold (750 grams, actually). H o w did w e ever live without it? Alexandra Barratt Department ofEnglish University of Waikato Donovan, Leslie A., trans., Women Saints' Lives in Old English Prose (The Library of Medieval Women), Cambridge, D. S. Brewer, 1999; paper; pp. 142; R.R.P. £12.99, US$19.95; ISBN 0859915689. This collection packages introductory material on hagiography and translat of eight Old English w o m e n saints' lives into a resource book suitable for an undergraduate women's studies programme. Leslie Donovan departs from the stated brief of the Library of Medieval W o m e n series in which this volume appears, to 'translate the words of medieval w o m e n themselves' (p. 1). Instead, 178 Reviews using female subject matter as her criterion, she has extracted and translated all the lives of w o m e n saints from the late tenth-century collection, written in Old English, known as /Elfric's Lives of the Saints. After an introductory chapter on hagiography in general and the AngloSaxon religious context of these lives in particular, Donovan prefaces each translated text with a brief introduction to the individual cults ofher eight subjects: jEthelthryth, Agatha, Agnes, Cecilia, Eugenia, Euphrosyne, Lucy and Mary of Egypt. The volume concludes with an 'Interpretive Essay' entitled 'The Gendered Body as Spiritual Problem and Spiritual Answer in the Lives of W o m e n Saints'. The argument ofthis essay, that these texts express female spiritual authority and bodily autonomy, and that these themes resonate with the concerns of modem audiences, provides the explicit rationale for the volume as a whole, but also points to a possible weakness ofthe enterprise. In removing the saints' lives from their context ofcollected devotional texts, Donovan affords these works a unitary female voice which is not suggested in the original. Her comment that the subjects of the female holy biographies 'seem almost interchangeable' (p. 2) neglects the conventional nature of medieval hagiography in general, and her contention that the texts share 'similar narrative patterns' (p. 2) similarly overlooks their (mainly) common authorship by /Elfric. Donovan also exaggerates the informative quality ofthe saints' lives when she says that by studying these texts, readers will acquire 'a comprehensive understanding of ancient or Anglo-Saxon women' (p. 23). Donovan's understanding of the rhetorical purposes of these texts is open to debate. The medieval female saint, she argues, could attain spiritual fulfilment by maintaining control over the body, the perceived site of carnality and temptation, ideally in the shape of perpetual virginity. Narrative accounts of triumphs over challenges to this state of autonomy, Donovan maintains, provided approved models for the transformation of sexuality and self-direction: 'By inviting medieval w o m e n to reflect on...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1832-8334
Print ISSN
0313-6221
Pages
pp. 177-179
Launched on MUSE
2013-04-03
Open Access
No
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