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HUMANITIES 403 through good teaching. Unpretentious and yet highly professional, the volume demonstrates the scholar's ability to present the fruits of research to an interdisciplinary audience. (W.H . HERENDEEN) Laurel Nichols Braswell. Western Manuscripts from Classical Antiquity to the Renaissance Garland Publishing Company, xxii, )82, $50.00 'The most important problems of manuscript studies today: says Laurel Braswell, 'appear to be the identity of documents and their relationship to others.' This uncontentious statement is applied with real pedagogical flair in her useful Handbook, a bibliography of 2074 collections, catalogues, and studies compiled to aid both beginning students and those trained in other areas who have to resolve a manuscript problem. The period surveyed is roughly 800 AD to 1450 AD, but much helpful material on classical antiquity (including papyrology) is assembled, and there is also coverage of Humanistic writing and manuscripts. Entries are commented on, and include publications well into the late 1970s. The rationale for inclusion is scrupulously presented; it is frankly Anglo-centric, for the book's ideal user is perhaps someone concerned with Middle English literary, doctrinal, or scientific works. Those investigating continental libraries and archives will make a good beginning here, but will be thrown on their own resources somewhat sooner. In quite a different sense, however, the volume is extremely comprehensive , for it stresses the interdisciplinary repertoire essential for the student of manuscripts, who needs to know the chemistry of ink, paper, and the illuminator's colours as thoroughly as he does the half-catalogued collections of no-longer-extant administrative units, or the gossip of eighteenth-century antiquaries. To steer the inexperienced through what amounts to a self-taught course in methodology, the entries are arranged in the order traced by the investigative procedure itself. from the search for a manuscript, through its identification, to its interpretation and eventual editing. As Braswell's flow-chart evolves (there is a convenient diagram), the controversial modern discipline of codicology takes its place beside the traditional one of palaeography, both literary and archival materials are given their due, and rival schools of textual criticism are impartially presented. Resources in art history and music are included , as well as the more general encyclopaedias helpful to the nonmedievalist , and there are up-to-date sections on microforms and computer applications. (There is, alas, no special treatment given to forgery and other forms of misappropriation, a topic which can be pursued for scholarly fun, as well as profit.) Within its declared range the volume has two limitations, one of bal- ance and one of execution. The focus on English sources unfortunately subverts the interdisciplinary character of the medieval and Renaissance periods which is central to Braswell's methodology. One section is so comprehensive as to include paperback bibliographies in Old and Middle English chiefly of interest to undergraduates, yet the material of Renaissance handwriting is not sufficiently supported by strong sections on Italian libraries, literature and history (Spain is perhaps more generously treated). The ample list of journals includes several general serials of arguable relevance, but omits Renaissance Quarterly. Panofsky's Studies in Iconology is in, but Seznec's equally useful Suroival of the Pagan Gods is not. Complicating this weakness are technical problems. Item 558 is not an incipitario of Livy manuscripts but of lyric manuscripts (the misconstruction is apparent even in the annotation). The index has uncomfortable inconsistencies, the promised cross-referencing is not full enough to be truly useful (the section on Italian libraries should certainly refer us to Odier's history of the Vatican collections, listed later and misnumbered in the index), and in item 262 the erratic proofreading has resulted in a howler. Notwithstanding these complaints, the Handbook is an achievement. Though too expensive to serve as the student's vadernecurn the author would wish it, the book's objective - to produce a truly complete study of manuscripts - will make it useful well beyond the audience for which it is intended. (GERMAINE WARKENTrN) F.H. Whitman. Old English Riddles Canadian Federation for the Humanities, Monograph Series No III Distributed by P.O. Meany Publishers. xii, 236. $7.95 paper It is rare to find a book that one cannot say something good about. Professor...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 403-404
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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