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REVIEWS ciously drops the brief passages of proverbial wisdom or etiological material , which Chaucer could have recalled from memory. Anita Obermeier adds a welcome concluding chapter on the ‘‘Retraction .’’ After discussing the medieval understanding of retractio as ‘‘retreatment ’’ or ‘‘revision’’ rather than recantation, she prints an example from Bede, four analogues of Chaucer’s profession of authorial humility, twenty-three analogues of the idea of worldly vanity, and three analogues that include lists of works by the author. In the texts and information it provides, this S&A is a worthy successor to B&D. As a work of criticism, it is far more heterogeneous. In 1940, the contributors were unified less by the editors’ mandate to refrain from interpreting their material than by shared, unstated assumptions about what makes a text a source or an analogue. With few exceptions (e.g., Bleeth, Beidler), these assumptions remain unanalyzed in the new S&A. Some contributors cleave to old conceptions, others take a more expansive view, still others combine elements of both. Too often defining terms, such as ‘‘possible source,’’ which need comment, are adopted without it; too often assertions about textual affiliation made in their name pass without interrogation. What does it mean, I found myself asking, to consider a text a source in the absence of direct verbal imitation? Can we not develop a theory of cultural translation that speaks meaningfully of the influence of analogues by acknowledging the full weight of their differences? Like the old, the new Sources and Analogues is an invitation to revisit ideas about the purview and practice of source criticism; meanwhile, for the many treasures it does contain, we owe the editors and contributors our heartfelt thanks. Warren Ginsberg University of Oregon Catherine C. Cox. The Judaic Other in Dante, the Gawain Poet, and Chaucer. Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 2005. Pp. 265. $65.00. Catherine Cox’s The Judaic Other is, by turns, illuminating and exasperating . Her overall framework—that ‘‘supersessionist hermeneutics, as both concept and method, informs the poetry and poetics of the late PAGE 479 479 ................. 16596$ CH13 11-01-10 14:08:17 PS STUDIES IN THE AGE OF CHAUCER medieval period’’ (p. 1)—is one with which I profoundly agree. Cox’s readings of textual ‘‘confiscatory hermeneutic gestures’’—founded on ‘‘Christianity’s [conflicted] relationship to its originary matrix’’ (p. 3), leading to ‘‘platitudinous rehearsal’’ (p. 21) of anti-Judaic stereotypes, ‘‘performative utterances of the faithful’’ (p. 23), and ‘‘[u]surpative appropriation [that] erases the identity of those whose heritage is co-opted in the guise of respect and inclusiveness’’ (p. 16)—are thoroughly argued in her analyses of ‘‘the hermeneutic Jew in Dante’s Commedia’’ (chapter 2), ‘‘the Hebrew truth in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight’’ (chapter 3), and ‘‘the Jewish Pardoner and Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales’’ (chapter 4). However, I find these readings to be ultimately unconvincing , based as they are on the assumption that these poets knew and knowingly drew upon some specific Hebrew traditions, particularly the talion code and the Mishnah Sotah (p. 7). Cox elaborates at length on the misinterpretation of talion and the Sotah in the Christian tradition, and her arguments that such misinterpretations fitted Christian supersessionist purposes are entirely convincing. However, that Cox is able to bring such misinterpretations and revaluations to our attention is not the same as saying the poets knew and used them. Cox’s book, therefore , also raises, albeit unintentionally, the question with which all readers are plagued, medievalists perhaps more than most: How much of what we read out of a text is purely an effect of what we read into it? As her epilogue makes clear, Cox is intent on putting ‘‘the Jew’’ and ‘‘the Judaic’’ back into the Christian tradition from which they have been deliberately erased even to the present day (for one instance, see the classroom episode described on page 152), rather than on showing that the specific traditions she cites are those with which the writers on whom she focuses had knowledge, familiarity, or even passing acquaintance . And if they did have such traditions in mind, how did they obtain them? I don’t doubt that we can—and should—read medieval texts with our own knowledge, ideas, biases...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1949-0755
Print ISSN
0190-2407
Pages
pp. 479-482
Launched on MUSE
2016-10-05
Open Access
No
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