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  • John Mirk's Festial: Edited from British Library MS Cotton Claudius A. II, Vol. II ed. by Susan Powell
  • Ailish McKeown
Powell, Susan , ed., John Mirk's Festial: Edited from British Library MS Cotton Claudius A. II, Vol. II (Early English Text Society, Original Series, 335), Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2011; hardback; pp. 600; 1 b/w illustration; R.R.P. £70.00; ISBN 9780199590377.

John Mirk's Festial is a vernacular sermon collection, probably composed in the late 1380s to assist members of the clergy to prepare their sermons. In creating his lively collection, Mirk drew heavily on accounts of saints' lives and miracles recounted in the immensely popular Legenda Aurea of Jacobus de Voragine. Prior to the publication of Susan Powell's new edition, the only modern edition of Mirk's Festial was that of Theodor Erbe, Part I of which, containing the text and glossary, was published for the Early English Text Society in 1905. The second part, which was to contain an Introduction and Notes, was never completed owing to Erbe's untimely death during the First World War. [End Page 334]

Volume I of Powell's critical edition, containing an Introduction, Sermons 1-49 and a bibliography, was published in 2009 [reviewed Parergon, 28.2 (2011), pp. 262-63]. Volume II completes the work, with the texts of Sermons 50-68, covering the feasts and Ember Days from the feast of St James (25 July) to the feast of St Katherine (25 November), and a sermon for the Dedication of a Church. Additional sermons for marriages and burials (plus burial notes), an Ave Maria sermon, a Paternoster sermon, and a sermon of Miracles of the Virgin are also included. The text is followed by almost two hundred pages of explanatory notes. A glossary, appendices including full collations, an additional bibliography, and a useful table of biblical references and allusions, complete the edition. Volume I provided a detailed study of the Claudius A. II manuscript and its transmission, but lacked any description of the other surviving manuscripts. This has been remedied in Volume II, with an appendix dedicated to descriptions of the other complete or once-complete manuscripts, partial manuscripts, and revisions.

This two-volume publication is a long-awaited and welcome contribution to scholarship, and should prove a useful resource for researchers in a wide range of fields for many decades to come.

Ailish McKeown
Department of English
The University of Sydney


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pp. 334-335
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