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HUMANITIES 431 familiarity with Giotto and his time. However, chapter 5 binds many names, places, and historical strings together and ·is probably the most brilliant part of the book: it heralds the New Art as a new kind of referential to the viewer1 S world. This concept was more than a decade ago brought forward from different points of view by equally brilliant scholars, such as Chiara Frugoni (1983/91), James H. Stubblebine (1985), and Hans Belting (198s/89)- Why does Maginnis's evaluation of scholarship not reach into his own presence? His emphas]s is on the new naturabsm in art1 and the crucial role of the Franciscans as catalyst. In his subchapters 'The Eloquence of Art' and 'Evidence of Continuities/ Maginnis corroborates his vision of the new Trecento art, and chapter 7, /Words and Images/ examines the shifting relation of (Latin and vernacular) words and inscriptions within pictures. The following scrutiny of the mid-century and mannered style is actua1ly a complex discussion of M. Meiss's Painting in Florence and Sie11a after the Black Death (1951) and the phenomenon of a stylistic break with the past. Magirmis's final approach towards a New History is his most impressive 'critique of conventional wisdom,' a combination of all previous elemen .ts drawn from the history of styles, the history of scholarship, and an understanding of his own relative position in time. To be sure, his book opens another window- although not far enough, in my opinion- to a puzzle, and presents a puzzling and intricate new view of the crucial achievements of Trecento art1 in his rather exclusive terms, as a 'wiser account of the glorious dawn of the Renaissance in Italy.' (JENS T. WOLLESEN) lain Macleod Higgins. Writing East: The 'Travels' ofSir John Mandeville University of Pennsylvania Press. ix, 3.35· $79.95 Higgins1 s subject is not Mandeville's Travels, the book familiar to many readers of medieval and early modem travel narratives; instead, it is the /mandevillean multi-text' the dizzying variety of exemplars of the work entitledf in early manuscripts, The Book of john Mandeville. Medieval versions of this work appear in French, English, Latin, Dutch, and German, as well as Czech, Danish, Irish, Italian/ and Spanish. It is to Higgins' great credit that he discusses most (if not quite all) of these versions, showing how the various redactors adapted their material to suit their audiences. Higgins explains that he wishes to show how The Book illustrates the textual principle of mauvance (that is, 'continuous recreation in transmission'), a term coined by Paul Zumthor in his famous Essai de paetique medievale. Yet Higgins does more than allude generally to the differences between the various versions: he offers numerous specific examples to illustrate how a series of apparently subtle variations add up to produce a text whose 'orientation' is quite different from that of its source. 432 LETTERS IN CANADA 1997 The author of The Book tells us at the outset that he, John Mandeville, is a knight an Englishman, and a traveller to the Holy Land and places far beyond. Modern scholarship informs us, however, that the author was more likely to have been a cleric, that he wrote his text not in English but in French, and that he probably travelled no further afield than a good library. (And we have no reason to believe that his name was John Mandeville.) Nonetheless, The Book is an extraordinary effort to map the world through a text whose emphasis on marvels, or 'chases estranges/ can only be described as literary. Marco Polo's travel narrative, which appeared at the close of the thirteenth century, offered a far more realistic view of the lands located at the borders of the known world. Yet, as Higgins notes, the author of The Book went far beyond Marco Polo in raising 'crucial questions ... that Polo did not even think to ask,' wondering what redefining the shape of the world might imply about aU that had come before. Higgins describes the remarkable confluence ofcartography and written text in late medieval and early modem efforts to image the world: the author of The Bookcites mappae mtmdi (stylized, east-centred medieval maps of...


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