In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

110 LETTERS IN CANADA 1980 But Hibbard is concerned to present a readable text, not simply an accurately reported one, and he regularly identifies these cruxes and fearlessly suggests solutions. His emendations are bold and often convincing. Thus in his text Adam Overdo will 'wind [not winne] out wonders of enormity at the fair' (n.ii.llo). This emendation bolsters the introduction's assertion (p xx) that 'the play is shot through and through with references to hunting and falconry, because the world it depicts is very decidedly a predatory one: although it is not there identified as an emendation. Mistress Overdo 'does so law [not love] 'em all over' (IV .iiL111) in Edgeworth's report of the vapours scene, a sensible enough description of her subsequent threat to commit Quarlous and Cutting upon her 'justice-hood.' And in the most radical emendation of all Quarlous advises Overdo at the play's conclusion to 'save your estimation in pardoning him [Nightingale]' ( 9), where the Folio reads simply 'save your estimation in him.' The accompanyingnote argues plausibly for the conjectural insertion of 'pardoning' by analogy with the conclusions of several other Jonson plays. Such emendations are substantive, strong, and intellectually stimulating . Future editors of the play will have to consider them in their own commentaries; students of the play will be grateful for their clarity and innate good sense. For Hibbard is at all times bent on illuminating a masterwork which he clearly loves, by a playwright whom he deeply admires. He serves Ben Jonson well. (JAMES E. NEUFELD) Robert James Merrett. Daniel Defoe's Moral and Rhetorical Ideas English Literary Studies, no. 19. University of Victoria. 112. $4.25 paper As a writer and thinker Defoe appeared so various that he seemed to be not one but all mankind's epitome. He knew it, of course, cultivating his 87 personae (Moore's count) and proudly imitating the apostle by being all things to all men. With the longest canon (much of it still, and probably forever, uncertain) of any major writer in English, Defoe both provokes and mocks attempts to grasp his essential ideas. Not until the early sixties, when Maxirnillian Novak began the serious modern study of Defoe's vast output, did anyone attempt to set Defoe's house of fiction in order. Novak identified the existence in Defoe's work of 'two valid but separate moral systems: namely divine and natural law. While acknowledging that Defoe's fictional narrators often determine the morality of their actions by religious law, Novak argued that 'the answer to the problem of morality in Defoe's fiction may be found in his allegiance to the laws of nature.' Whenever the positive law, or even Christianity, came into conflict with the naturallaw, man was not required to heed or obey. In understanding HUMANITlES 111 the primacy ofnatural law for Defoe we are in effect one jump ahead of the narrators and so 'we can evaluate the morality of a given action far better than the narrators themselves' (Defoe and the Nature of Man, pp 2- 3). Robert Merrett challenges Novak's thesis by arguing that Defoe's social, political, and moral ideas follow from his religious ones, and that his use of natural law is, for the most part, 'rhetorical exploitation' (p 8). Merrett wishes to 'make it clear that Defoe did not conceive of natural and divine law as two equally valid but separate moral systems and that he treated them neither separately nor systematically. Far from believing that divine law confused natural law, he judged the latter of value only as it was related to or justified by the former' (p 47). Renewed emphasis upon the importance of Defoe's religious beliefs is valuable, and offers insights into the way the interconnection of social and religious ideas in Defoe's thought is worked out in his novels. Like other recent scholars, Merrett concludes that Defoe's novels, despite their 'escapist' mood, are didactic and moral. Merrett's knowledge of Defoe's works is admirable, but his study is ultimately disappointing because it is not supported by the comprehensive scholarship that Novak was able to bring to his books...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 110-112
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.