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HUMANITIES 4J7 century manuscripts are full of works similar in status to the fishing tracts: medical, herbat astrologicat alchemical, scientific, all with concrete, practical applications, and all rarely explored today for what they can tell us about the culture and mentality of the time. In this respect, Hoffmann's meticulous examination of one group of such texts is both welcome and exemplary. It must be confessed, however, that the texts themselves are something of a let-down. Hoffmann, in h1s enthusiasm for the subject, describes them as 'three large works of instruction on how to catch fish,' and his introduction is so full of fascinating information on both the interpretation of texts and the history of fish that the reader is full of eager anticipation for the works themselves. But the 'How to Catch Fish' tract in twenty-seven chapters is in fact six pages of frequently rather revolting recipes for making bait; the 'Tegernsee Fishing Advice' consists of nineteen pages mostly on constructing flies (incomprehensible to the non-fisher); and only Basurto's 'Dialogue' seems to hold any intrinsic interest. (It is a nice example of humanist rhetoric, and a contribution to the ~debate between classes' theme: the aristocratic hunter is put down by the poor~ but contented fisherman.) Hoffmann's account of the kind of thing these texts can teach us is ultimately much more interesting than what they actually say. His skills, polyglot , piscatorial, and learned, make the book a valuable addition to the analysis of 'cultural margins' in the early sixteenth century. (E. RUTH HARVEY) Mark C. Pilkinton, editor. Bri5tol: Recnrds of Early Englis}r Drama University of Toronto Press. lxxxvi, 384.$125.00 Life before REED is now as difficult to imagine as early English theatrical practices must have been, two decades and over a dozen red volumes ago. The Records of Early English Drama project was just getting underway in Toronto when Mark C. Pilkinton was writing his dissertation at the University of Bristol; now he and the efficient REED editorial staff have given us Bristol:Records of Early English Drama, another worthy addition to the series, and the first in nearly a decade dedicated entirely to one urban centre. By this point, one should expect more of the same from any REED volume: more substantiation of, and more insight into, previously documented activities of medieval and early modem entertainers, along with the usual, well-edited wealth of site-specific anecdotes and practices. This volume delivers all that, and a few surprises. Bristol was a prosperous city, and its civic records, at least for the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, are fairly complete. Those records amply attest to what Pilkinton describes as 'a long and distinguished history of local drama and public ceremony/ ranging from some sort of performance by 'Seynt kateryns players' on the feast of St Katherine in 438 LETTERS IN CANADA 1997 1478--79 outside the homes of city officials, to civic-sponsored Christmas plays presented by a succession of schoolmasters in the late sixteenth century. Bristol was also a popular stop for travelling entertainers, the queen's men being the most frequent of the 127 named companies visiting Bristol in the sixteenth century alone; all are listed in the now standard appendix of Patrons and Travelling Companies. Occasional entertainments recorded here range from a large-scale, extensively documented celebration in honour of Queen Elizabeth's 1574 visit to the city to an impromptu 1590 procession of local musicians and men carrying a rowboat 'roWl.d about the Citie' in honour of one Richard Ferris, who had arrived the previous day from London in that same rowboat. All the various allegorical speeches written for the former occasion are supplied here, including a good many that were never actually delivered, while Ferris's accoLmt of the procession in his honour is supplemented by a celebratory sonnet written by one of the civic waits. The most notable surprise here involves the familiar term 'pageant.' In Bristot it seems, the word was used to refer not to wheeled vehicles used for dramatic performance.. or to any such performances, but to something that was decorated and carried through the streets with flags and torches on ceremonial...


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