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HUMANITIES 425 with ethics, two with the realm of the physical world, one with eternity and time, and one with language (the latter a particularly insightful essay by F.M. Schroeder). Finally, one essay links Plotinus with later ancient Neoplatonists in their treatment of the topic of 'the causality of the First Princjple/ a useful historical exercise of which there might have been more specimens. Indeed, a companion to the Neoplatonists (like the forthcoming volume on the Presocrahcs in this series) would probably have been more useful to the scholarly world than one restricted to Plotinus. The editor and four of the contributors are Canadian, a tribute to the remarkable way in which the study of Greek philosophy has taken root here in recent decades. But the next generation of Canadian Plotinians, if there is to be one, will need to be nurtured by more accessible guides than the present 'companion.' Now that our sadly ailing classics departments have largely abandoned the study of ancient philosophy, that generation can be drawn only from students specializing in philosophy. Their needs and interests might have been more effectively addressed in the present volwne. (ROBERT TODD) Ruth Wehlau. 'The Riddle o[Crealio11': Metaphor Stntclztres ill Old English Poetry Peter Lang. x, 162. us$39·95 This book is a comprehensive reworking of Ruth Wehlau's Toronto thesis, and one which more or less succeeds in the difficult task of eliminating the buttresses, the extra wa1ls, and the dim comers of the foundations in favour of a cleanly built modern house with a sufficiency of load-bearing walls. It has few grace notes and elegances, and does not aspire to inspire, but the book makes a clear argument and makes it well. The architecturalmetaphor is appropriate, since the book concerns itself with Creation imagery, and argues that i.n Old English poetry the Creation is figured as a building, an encircling, a fastening, a locking. Wehlau suggests that images of unlockingJ separating, mixing, and dismembering are signs of chaos in this very conventional poetry] with its remarkably patterned use and variation of images and collocations. By extension, metaphors of food and eating, consumption and enclosing within the body also partake of this metaphoric complex; Wehlau ably analyses these images in a wide range of texts in Old English, though the poetry is her principal focus, and the best passages of the book are her sensitive readings of individual poems in these terms: Andreas, Juliana1 and the Exeter Book Riddles. The two poems which provide the touchstones for Wehlau's analysis are The Order of the World and the three-part riddle now known as The Stann; together these poems provide her with the two poles of her i.magery, the positive and negative images of creation and destruction, architecture and the body as boundary and interior, building and crashing down, blood and water1 binding and loosing the forces of nature and of 426 LETTERS IN CANADA 1997 humankind. Creation encloses and orders the world, while forces of chaos attempt to torture, up-end1 and destroy that order. In order to reach to the argument she wants to make, Weh1au is obliged at times to build her own edilice on potentially slippery foundations. For example, she must start with the assumption, a generally accepted one among Anglo-Saxonists but nonetheless disturbing, that the surviving poetry is a monolithic whole, reflecting and refracting a set group of images with a patterned vocabulary. This allows a metaphor's manifestations to be plucked from a variety of texts and considered without much regard to the individual context of the poem. Similarly, because Wehlau focuses so exclusively on the imagery of Creation, figuring its opposite as antiCreation , she fails to note that another root metaphor of 0 ld English poetry is that of judgment, of decay and destruction, and the Day of Judgment itself. Further, with her extended analysis of fcest as an image of firnmess and stability, she is unable to acknowledge that, more than occasionally, fcest orfi£sle is an adjective or adverb placed at the head stave as alliterative filler or in the fourth stress to eke out a line. She is even obliged, concerning The...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 425-426
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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