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HUMANITIES 449 (virtues of the individual soul and public virtues are 'metonymic components in justice'), with justice subtending other considerations. Where Dixon's analysis of book 1 is quite skeletal, his involvement in the details of the poem is incremental. By the time he turns to book 5, the reader is immersed in the narrative, linguistic, and characterological specifics. Yet it is also true that Dixon's insights become progressively attuned to the Platonic model. Although he argues that courtship and estrangement offer a dynamic definition of rhetoric that is always implicated in power relations, the Platonic imperative seems to direct his attention away from the base of the triangle (and the social structure) and towards the apex (a word that recurs with noticeable frequency in the last chapters). His recurrent reference to the Ovidian cone is instructive. Dixon suggests that Spenser converts Ovid's trope of degeneration from the ages of gold to iron in the Metamorphoses to an entropic spiral, an Ovidian cone, with concord and unity at the apex and chaotic discord at the base. The messiness of history and issues of class give way progressively in Dixon's study to the coherence that abstract structure provides, and while one could argue that Dixon is repIicating Spenser's own cultural preoccupations, aconsideration ofjustice as a concept that does not take into account the historical allegory of Ireland and Spenser's involvement in it or the trial of Mary, Queen of Scots necessarily privileges an abstraction. The dialogue that Dixon sets up with new historicism in the early chapters might have extended and complicated both his interpretation and our sense ofSpenser/s own relation to a rhetorical tradition that allowed the poet, however briefly, to transcend the chaos of history. Indeed, early on Dixon seems to echo David Lodge's lament for the loss of a common language among critics. Rhetorical terminology, because it has been long out of currency, would seem to offer to Dixon a discourse possessed of an 'affective neutrality.' It is hard not to read the dream of critical concord that underwrites this statement as analogous to Spenser's own wish for a unity that would furnish a harbour from the vicissitudes of chaos. Whatever historicist limitations the book may have, Dixon's desire to understand the rhetorical architecture of The Faerie Queene provides not only a concephlal map for the poem but also insight into the spiritual ambitions of its author. (ELIZABETH D. HARVEY) Michael Nolan, editor. The Thracian Wonder Institut fiir Anglistic und Amerikanistik, Universitat Salzburg. lxii, 218. £14.95 Students of early English drama have every reason to look favourably on efforts to make an obscure play more accessible. Since Michael Nolan's edition of The Thracian Wonder does thaC one wants to feel grateful and bestow praise, but tJ-tis is not easy to do. Similarly, gratitude should be due 450 LEITERS IN CANADA 1997 to a publisher willing to issue material of interest to relatively few, but this edition is part of the Salzburg series, which does not inspire confidence. This series offers fueses - critical studies, concordances, editions apparently unrevised for publication. In general, these efforts offer ample evidence that a dissertation and a book are, or should be, quite distinct: defence committees have different criteria for evaluation and satisfaction from users of the work. Nevertheless, those who send their theses out into the world should expect them to be evaluated as academic books. The 1662 quarto of The Thracian Wonder raises questions central to seventeenth-century printing, publishing, authorship, genre, venue, company, and performance. Nolan certainly addresses some of these issues, but with a circularity that, for me, undermines the whole enterprise. The problem begins with the cover and title-page, where the play is attributed to William Rowley and Thomas Heywood; Nolan's interest in defending this attribution governs to a considerable degree his introduction and commentary. Indeed, the attribution is almost a given, not discussed in detail until the fifth of seven introductory segments. In the first section, after summarizing the play's action and some negative criticism of it, Nolan asserts that '[t]he greatest and most certain defect of Wonder ... is its titlepage '- sadly...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 449-451
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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