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404 LETTERS IN CANADA 1984 Ian Lancashire. Dramatic Texts and Records of Britain: A Chronological Topography of Britain to 1558 Studies in EarlyEnglish Drama, no. 1. University ofToronto Press. cii, 634. $75.00 This volume starts SEED with great authority. The grey sobriety ofits cover is offset by the logo of Will Kempe on his dancing way to Norwich forty;..two years after the book's cut-off date. This is an emblem of the liberalmeasureratherthanstrictlyconservativechronologicalrations tobe offered. Here is a compilation ofthe familiar and the unfamiliar; and more of the latter than expected. Lancashire has not merely listed items previously known- there are many items 'previously known' so long ago as to have been forgotten - but added much that is fresh, from his own research (in the Percy family papers, for instance), as well as from that of editors currently working on REED volumes. There are 1810 items in the Chronological List, but, since manyofthemcomprise multiple entries, the actual count is far higher. This liberal List is but half the book, however. The items are rearranged in five otherways for thebook's user. There is an Index of Playing Companies to 1558 arranged in two forms, by placename and by Patron or Player; there is an Index of Playwrights; an Index of Playing Places and Buildings to 1558; and, lastly, a Chronological List of Salient dates and Entry Numbers. It runs 1755 years from Caesar's first invasion of Britain in 55 BC, via twenty items to the first century AD, which has forty. The theatrical dark ages of the next 1000 years produce but thirty-three notices. Early English drama pulls itself on Henry I'S convenient accession in 1100, after which the List moves ever more richly to 1558, sinking quietly to close in 1700. Thus, Kempe's appearance and the book's title are well justified. I said 'user' because this is a book to be used rather than read. There is the Introduction, of course; and searching the List for a locale easily leads to reading of places and their drama which one hardly knew geographically , let alone dramatically. Essentially, however, this is a reference book and its huge amount of material is not only handily quinquepartite, but the whole is subsumedin a 154-pageIndex (which defeated my reviewer's efforts to turn up error or omission). There are some few additions and corrections, questions or comments, that I have on the Topography as a whole, butmy single large commenthas more to do with the printingthan the editing. I find the List not as user-friendly as it could be. The adjunct indices and General Index present no problems to the user but, paradoxically, finding where one is in the Topography is difficult. The place names are printed in upper-case but need a bolder typeface to catch the eye: I am underlining mine as I use them. They appear but once, sufficient for NONSUCH with its single entry (1212, only item numbers are bold-face); London and Westminster is announced on p 172 and runs to p 223 with no further identification save 'England'! There are other HUMANITIES 405 deserted stretches but none so long as this. Reading entries shows that a surprisingnumberofthemcouldbe anywhere- those on p 233 offerclues, but nothingto putthem only in New Romney; onlythe previous page tells us that. Iam gradually entering my ownplace guides. Thisbookis already an essential reference tool for any library, so much so that I hope the second edition will add this next necessary thing. Before closing with praise I must add that the facsimile of an original map of London, c 1558, reduced to indistinctionbearingonehundred circled numbers identifying places and streets asks a Miltonic sacrifice of eyesight I cannot give. The map is, however, but the last of twenty-six Illustrations and Maps which comprise the last section of the Introduction, twenty-five of them a mixture of known and fresh and all valuable. But space denies even the few comments and questions I had. So rich and various is this collection and its organization that merely to sketch its contents is praise, especially when the material is so comprehensive and its handling so assured. The...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 404-405
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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