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  • Le Donei des amanz ed. by Anthony J. Holden
  • Jade Bailey
Le Donei des amanz. Edited by Anthony J. Holden. (Plain Text Series, 17.) Oxford: Anglo-Norman Text Society, 2013. 37 pp.

This volume presents the first new, full edition of the twelfth-century didactic poem to be published in over a century. Although the edition was carried out by Anthony J. Holden, the eminent Anglo-Normanist, his passing in 2009 has regrettably meant that [End Page 228] his work has only appeared posthumously, having been prepared for publication by Daron Burrows and Ian Short. The poem follows the model of a courtly dialogue between a young man and a lady, the object of his affections. The structure consists of a series of exemplary episodes, some of which allude to the legend of Tristan and Iseult; consequently, much of the scholarship on this text has considered it alongside this corpus. It survives only in one late thirteenth-century manuscript (Cologny-Genève, Fondation Martin Bodmer, Cod. Bodmer 82), which is defective, and thus poses a particular challenge for scholars since the lacunae towards the end of the poem render its conclusion unclear. The manuscript contains four other texts, all lais or romances; these are mentioned only briefly by the editor. At under 1300 lines long, this poem is well suited to the short format of the Plain Text Series, which includes the full edition but with limited introductory or critical material. Nevertheless, the Introduction includes a brief description of the poem, together with a discussion of dating, a summary description of the manuscript, and notable palæographical and linguistic features of the text. It is perhaps unfortunate that the format of the Plain Text Series does not allow for a more detailed discussion of the text itself, the manuscript, or its associations with the wider Tristan tradition; however, the bibliography does direct the reader towards some useful sources for further information. The greatest improvement offered by Holden’s edition over that carried out by Gaston Paris (Romania 25 (1896), 497—541) is in terms of his approach to the text. while Paris’s comments on vocabulary and his analysis of the narrative structure remain useful, his editorial approach tended towards excessive emendation, correcting for metre where a modern editor might have felt it unnecessary. In his Introduction, Holden explains that he has limited emendation only to instances ‘when the reading of the manuscript makes no sense as it stands and when the emendation appears so obvious as to exclude all alternatives’ (p. 2). While some editorial intervention is necessary for the sake of clarity, this approach presents the reader with a more faithful rendering of the original text, still correcting where readings are unclear or obviously false. Though lacking extensive commentary, this edition is a welcome addition to the body of scholarship available on this neglected text, and Burrows and Short are to be commended for completing the work of their late colleague and thus enabling the appearance of a long-overdue updated edition.

Jade Bailey
University of Bristol


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