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BRIEF NOTICES135 Cantor, Norman F. Medieval Lives: Eight Charismatic Men and Women of theMiddleAges. (New York: HarperCollins Publishers. 1994. Pp. xx, 197.»23.00.) There is a certain appropriateness in Norman Cantor, whose writings long have had a proclivity in that direction, explicitly turning to a form ofhistorical fiction. The idea is to construct the conversations ofeight charismatic medieval men and women in today's language—indeed there is a fair amount of passing from past to present—in order to communicate their understanding of the cultural issues of their times. A fair amount of what is said is more a reflection on the past than anything someone in that past could have said: at this level, it is often illuminating. There are no footnotes, and only a slender bibliography. Cantor uses the findings of social history to set the scene. Some of the "facts" given by him outside the constructed dialogue are not to be trusted: his words about Peter Damiani's "sex scandal book" are a case in point. In simulated dialogues which leave the general reader both informed and misinformed, the author aims to draw his contemporaries into the medieval world. Some passages are very good, for instance, some of the discussion in the chapter on Augustine and much of the chapter on Alcuin, but each chapter also contains statements at which the expert will wince. That on Hildegard of Bingen is quite effective. In spite of its anachronisms, the presentation of Eleanor of Aquitaine imaginatively articulates twelfth-century ideas. Cantor's claim, whatever the artifice, to preserve medieval sensibility seems to me only partly justified. He invokes Eileen Power'sMedievalPeople in the preface, expressing the hope that his book will have a similar scope and format, though without Power's naivete and enthusiasm. Appropriately enough, Cantor's Middle Ages are more complex and sadder. In some ways his success is not that of the historian, but of the essayist reflecting on the great ideas and dilemmas history presents. Each chapter ends with a Nachleben which is generally accurate. Other figures covered are Helena Augusta, Humbert of Lorraine, Robert Grosseteste, and John Duke of Bedford. The epilogue, a less than convincing and somewhat maudlin apologia for the book, is, in the manner of Petrarch, addressed to medieval people. Glenn W. Olsen (University of Utah) Contosta, David R., and Dennis J. Gallagher, O.SA. Ever Ancient, Ever New: Villanova University, 1842—1992. (Virginia Beach, Virginia: The Donning Company Publishers. 1992. Pp. 120.) As Philadelphia's western suburbs blossomed with the opening of the Philadelphia and Columbia Railroad, a small, visionary group ofpriests ofthe order of St. Augustine inaugurated Villanova College. It was a "new house" for the fledgling Catholic young men's school situated on the 197-acre Belle-Air estate ofJohn Rudolph. Villanova officially opened on August 28, 1843, and classes ...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-0708
Print ISSN
0008-8080
Pages
p. 135
Launched on MUSE
2016-10-05
Open Access
No
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