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REVIEWS clearly impacted it. Further, because she seeks to link virtues, the Eucharist , and beauty as often as possible, the concepts of beauty, and even of the Eucharist, end up being quite broad. In order to keep attention focused on her central themes, she often appends phrases about beauty or the Eucharist to her quotations and paraphrases, but in such a way that implies that the original quotations explicitly address these themes. For instance, she claims that, for Bonaventure, ‘‘The substantial form of a thing unites its essence, nature and species, and its beauty consists in that harmonious unity of expression’’ (p. 105). Although Bonaventure does liken the three, he does not discuss them with respect to beauty (Astell often defines species as beauty, but in the passage she cites at the end of the sentence above, it connotes only ‘‘image’’). Or, although a quotation from Catherine of Siena ends by describing Jesus as ‘‘the incarnate word and only begotten Son of God,’’ Astell adds ‘‘present in the Eucharist’’ after the quotation, suggesting that Catherine drew attention to the Eucharist proper (p. 147). This is not to detract from the sustained creativity of the work, which brings new and productive approaches to bear on the study of medieval (and later) spirituality. The book adds a crucial dimension to the study of the Eucharist in the Middle Ages by relating it to original sin, and its individual readings are often compelling, displaying Astell’s ability to make unexpected connections between texts. This will be a useful read for anyone interested in the aesthetic content of medieval theology. Michelle Karnes University of Missouri–Columbia Alcuin Blamires. Chaucer, Ethics, and Gender. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006. Pp. xii, 263. $90.00. Having spent his recent career examining the role of women in medieval culture, Alcuin Blamires turns his attention to the nexus of moral and gender questions in Chaucer’s work. Offering a set of examples of these questions in the Introduction (including ‘‘Does the Wife of Bath’s discourse allege that women are mercenary, or generous, or profligate? What is the value of brotherhood in The Knight’s Tale? If a female fortitude is projected in The Clerk’s Tale, how much are we to admire it?’’ PAGE 467 467 ................. 16596$ CH13 11-01-10 14:08:11 PS STUDIES IN THE AGE OF CHAUCER [p. 1]), he notes that these questions derive from ‘‘a profound interest in dramas of personal morality—notably how people behave when making and justifying their choices in sexual matters’’ (p. 2). Noting the extensive discussion of gender issues in Chaucer’s writings, Blamires points out that after a wave of both ‘‘capacious approaches’’ (p. 3) and more narrowly focused studies, ‘‘what is needed now is a period of consolidation , defining gender formulations in Chaucer’s poetry with greater precision in relation to the various medieval discourses through and against which his formulations are positioned’’ (p. 3). Chaucer, Ethics , and Gender is his attempt to begin this consolidation, aiming both to historicize and to examine the doctrines that inform (correctly or incorrectly) Chaucer’s works—certainly an ambitious task. Blamires’s introduction sets out his terms, noting the slippery nature of ‘‘ethics’’ and ‘‘morals.’’ He attributes to Chaucer a particular interest in ‘‘the accommodations negotiated between ethical concepts and the moral systems into which Christianity sought to assimilate them’’ (p. 8), particularly in their relationship to gender. This fixing of terminology precedes an extended look at the moral treatises and dicta of Chaucer’s age and an eclectic portrayal of their concepts. Drawing a metaphor from the assumptions of contemporary critical theory, he views Chaucer ’s narratives as showing a ‘‘creative awareness of ragged seams, and of overlaps where the nap of each cloth does not run quite in the same direction’’ (p. 19). Blamires moves on to discuss individual texts and problems. His most overarching examination, ‘‘Fellowship and Detraction in the Architecture of the Canterbury Tales: from ‘The General Prologue’ and ‘The Knight’s Tale’ to ‘The Parson’s Prologue,’’’ seeks to examine Chaucer’s dramatization of friendship and community. This discussion also considers homosocial friendship, its potential for disturbance, and the ‘‘competitive and defamatory impulses...


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pp. 467-470
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