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STUDIES IN THE AGE OF CHAUCER him with the omission, he explains, ‘‘I have it left for schame, / Be cause I am here oghne prest’’ (5.1382–83). Nicholson keeps his Venuses separate and here shifts focus, in an interesting but distracting observation arguing that in Genius’s denouncing the goddess he serves, ‘‘the fiction denies its own reality’’ (pp. 301–2). At the literal level, however, Genius sees but one goddess and admits to her dual nature: that in turn directs us back to possible conflict in his own ‘‘dual allegiance.’’ There is complexity here that Nicholson has not adequately addressed. Finally, he has insisted throughout that love is a site of moral choices, but he appears to deny that when he charges Genius with eventually ‘‘stepping outside of his character’’ (p. 37) to advise Amans to abandon his love. His speech, Nicholson argues, is ‘‘a dismissal of everything that precedes ’’ (p. 382). It is hardly that. At a particular site of moral choices, Genius concludes that Amans’s choice to persist in his love would be a wrong choice—‘‘it is a Sinne’’ (8.2088). The judgment does not invalidate the ethics of love Genius has been developing and Nicholson describing , but affirms it through the application. One may dispute some of Nicholson’s premises and readings, then, and yet we must not forget that he has done something not yet attempted on such a scale in Gower studies, and in many ways he has done it well: this book will form a useful ‘‘companion’’ to the Confessio not only for its comprehensiveness but also for its organizational clarity as well as its detail in guiding readers through Gower’s long and often difficult poem. That Nicholson never shirks introducing major points of controversy, moreover, is commendable. He does not provide answers on every occasion, to be sure, nor will his book assuredly produce ‘‘shared understanding,’’ but he has written a work that will do something just as important: newly challenge us to engage in a form of pley that Gower appears to have valued—a play of diverse readings. Kurt Olsson University of Idaho Maura Nolan. John Lydgate and the Making of Public Culture. Cambridge : Cambridge University Press, 2005. Pp. x, 278. $90.00. Maura Nolan’s book is an ambitious and challenging addition to the reappraisal of John Lydgate’s work that began in the 1990s as an adPAGE 536 536 ................. 16596$ CH13 11-01-10 14:08:44 PS REVIEWS junct to the new historicism and has since taken several directions. Those directions include recent contributions in textual scholarship such as Alexandra Gillespie’s Print Culture and the Medieval Author: Chaucer, Lydgate, and Their Books, 1473–1557 and interpretive studies like Nigel Mortimer’s John Lydgate’s ‘‘Fall of Princes’’: Narrative Tragedy in Its Literary and Political Contexts. A larger agenda emerges in Larry Scanlon and James Simpson’s essay collection John Lydgate: Poetry, Culture, and Lancastrian England, which fashions Lydgate’s writing as the vast, uncharted territory whose critical mapping is key to a full understanding of Middle English literature. Nolan stakes out a smaller territory by focusing on selected texts from Henry VI’s minority—specifically, the Serpent of Division , the mummings written for the mercers and goldsmiths, the disguisings at London and Hertford, and Lydgate’s retrospective poem on Henry’s triumphal entry into London. Historically and politically, her texts represent the decade between Henry V’s death at Vincennes in 1422 as he sought to establish the dual monarchy envisioned by the Treaty of Troyes and Henry VI’s return to London as King of England and France in 1432, a title already preempted by Charles VII’s coronation at Rheims in1429. In Lydgate’s career, these texts are minor works situated between two monuments, Troy Book (1412–20), commissioned by Henry V, and Fall of Princes (1431–38), commissioned by Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester. The claim Nolan makes for them, however, is not at all minor: the texts, she argues, register the crisis of a child ruler and conciliar government, and they remake the available forms of public culture to offer ‘‘imaginary and symbolic resolutions to critical cultural problems and...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1949-0755
Print ISSN
0190-2407
Pages
pp. 536-539
Launched on MUSE
2016-10-05
Open Access
No
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