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106 LETTERS IN CANADA 1987 himself a picture of something else as the imago Dei) in a fallen world. As Arthur hints, the Gawain-poet explores the same issue in Pearl, where we are also teased with multiple 'referents' for the pearl symbol, only to be left, at the close of the poem, with an all-too-human dreamer, who has been thrown back into the woeful world. Happily, Arthur has written a book about medieval sign theory without resorting to the critical jargon which has attached itself to such studies. Arthur's discussion is based almost exclusively on medieval sources, and he has indeed assembled a storehouse ofsuch materials in his painstaking effort to reconstruct the Gawain-poet's intellectual milieu. Occasionally, these examples are so numerous that they bury the explication of the poetry and distract the reader. Medieval glossators also found it difficult to resist such luxurious commentary, but they generally relegated it to their notes. Arthur would have done well to follow their example, especially since numerous passages have been provided seriatim for lore and doctrine which are not as obscure as he would have us believe (e.g., the wound as a symbol of sin, 118-26). But this same critical inclination to avoid being 'wasteful' (an adjective that occurs several times) produces attentive and precise explications of the poem's language and detail: Arthur's discussion of the passive voice in the description of Gawain (83-4), and of the heraldic connotations of bende (122-3) might be cited as two examples. Arthur has translated his primary texts 'so that this book may be of use both to medievalists who study other national literatures and to beginning students in medieval English' (ix). Those who do not read Latin will be grateful for this decision, but it seems unlikely that a reader sufficiently interested in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight to read this book would require translations of Chaucer and Langland. (JOSEPH M.P. DONATELLI) Ronald B. Bond, editor. Certain Sermons or Homilies (1547) and A Homily against Disobedience and Wilful Rebellion (1570). University of Toronto Press. xii, 260. $35.00 The Tudor homilies, as Ronald B. Bond points out, bring to fruition the efforts of Archbishop Cranmer to make a book of sermons that could be propagated throughout the realm. An injunction of 1547 meant that all but the few licensed preachers were bound to read the homilies Sunday by Sunday. This obligation meant the curtailment of Sunday morning services, and involved a drastic liturgical revolution: Terce, Sext, and None were sacrificed for them. The usefulness of this edition may be suggested by the consideration that the first book of homilie$, which predates the Book of Common Prayer and the Thirty-nine Articles, was both. one of the earliest HU~ANITIES 107 statements of the English Reformation and of enduring importance, the greatest single influence, according to Millar MacLure, in forming the characteristic temper of Jacobean and Caroline divines. One is glad to have with them the 1570 homily against rebellion. The texts are introduced by a history of the Tudor homilies; an essay on the theme, organization, and style of the first book; another on the Northern Rising and Against Rebellion; and a note on the texts and Bond's editorial treatment. Each sermon is immediately followed by notes and textual apparatus. This is an old-spelling text, based upon the 1547 edition; the alterations of 1550 ~for the better understandyng of the simple people' are relegated to the critical apparatus. Bond sees the homilies as attempts ~to achieve a grass-roots Reformation among humble people essentially indifferent to doctrinal niceties'; but of course contemporary tensions are felt. If the sermon against strife and contention seeks to minimize religious differences among the populace, that on good works is contentiously political (see pages 110-11). Any reader will acknowledge the justice of Bond's statement that the homilies were intended for the control of public opinion. They fit perfectly into the Tudor theory of control of the press (see, inter alia, F.S. Siebert, Freedom of the Press in England 1476-1776). Notions of early English society as benignly hierarchical are quite properly...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 106-107
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
Archive Status
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