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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 Wanderer, to interpret the /wall wondrously high' as an image of 'unbinding and the destruction of the right.' Finally, much of the analysis in the poem depends upon Wehlau's own translations (generally very good), so that, for example, Ja?6m is given, somewhat unusually, as 'outstretched or encircling arms' and thus metaphorically 'power' or 'protection '; some etymological analysis and consideration of the range of usage might be useful for the words central to the argument. The author has prepared the camera-ready copy generally expected by Lang with some skilt save for an inability to produce Old English thorn and eth in italics and an absence of some German accents. A comma occasionally goes walkabout only to reappear in somewhat unorthodox manner, but there are very few typographical errors, the bibliography is of an appropriate length and includes relevant texts, and the index is both useful and short. The book is an admirable example of its genre, the monograph picking up and elucidating carefully a slightly different and interesting way of approaching Old English texts. In particular1 those who teach Old Engbsh poetry would be well advjsed to refresh their lectures with the judicious inclusion of some of the texts and ideas Wehlau addresses. (JANE TOSWELL) Margaret Wade Labarge. A Medieval Mi..sce/Jany Carleton University Press. 292. $29.95 It does not speak altogether well of the current state of medieval studies that relatively few distinguished careers in the field have been built chiefly on the dissemination of scholarship to a general educated audience. The HUMANITIES 427 career of Margaret Wade Labarge is not the only exception to this state of affairs;but it is a particularly noteworthy exception. Labarge never pursued doctoral studies, nor did she teach full time, but she has produced six widely admired books that distil specialist research in a form accessible to the common reader. These include biographies of Louis rx of France and Henry v of England, a portrait of the household of Simon de Montfort; a study of Gascony during England's long control of the region in the thirteenth through fifteenth centuries, and books on medieval travellers and medieval women. The present collection assemblesnineteen occasional papers by Labarge; who is now eighty-two. Many were given at conferences and as public lectures over the past twelve years; several are reprinted from published collections; one is a historical prospectus on women in Western culture produced for the Royal Commission on the Status of Women in 1967. The essays are grouped into four divisions, the first on the lives of medieval women, the fourth on medieval health care, and the middle two more loosely on~Aspects of Culture: Medieval and Modern' and 'Highways and Byways of Medieval Scholarship/ respectively. The amateur of medieval history will find in these essays gracefully presented recapitulations of subjects addressed by Labarge throughout her career. They are rich with attention to specifics that illustrate more...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 426-427
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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