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STUDIES IN THE AGE OF CHAUCER of Franciscan iconography, certainly students of the Middle Ages should attune themselves to the possibility ofsimilar resonances in a literature and art that is more obviously symbolic. Ofequal impor­ tance, by focusing on a single painting, and by applying its method with rigor and precision, the book becomes a handbook to show what riches an iconographic analysis can yield and to show as well how one should go about mining them. It is the expected duty of a reviewer to have objections, however minor. Since in form and substance I find the book exemplary, I am reduced to a proofreader, and point out an unfortunately amusing typographical error at the end. In a climactic sentence (p. 160), the purpose of which is to put Francis in the tradition of the great religious leaders, the founder ofthe Cistercian Order is listed not as Robert of Molesmes but as Robert of Solesmes, thus putting an unknown singing monk in the exaltedcompany ofAnthony Abbot, Benedict ofNursia, Dominic, and Francis. RONALD B. HERZMAN National Endowment for the Humanities WARREN GINSBERG, The Cast ofCharacter: The Representation of Personality in Ancient andMedievalLiterature. Toronto: Uni­ versity ofToronto Press, 1983. Pp. 202. $27.50. The five essays that make up this volume are held together by the theme ofhow character "becomes a metaphor for the artist's shaping imagination" (p. 5). The subject is broad, and the theme suffers from some imprecision and questionable application. Even though the matter is treated chronologically, poetic influence is not a concern, and drama and personification allegory are excluded from the purview. Attempting to view the imagination of "self-con­ scious" poets against a background of literary tradition, Ginsberg offers more to our understanding of several poets than to our appreciation ofcharacter. 192 REVIEWS In his discussion ofOvid's Amores (chapter 1), Ginsberg focuses on the poet's place in rhetorical tradition and therefore seeks to find the character of Ovid's figures in what they say. For the most part, however, the only speaker oftheAmoresis the narrator-poet, and as a result he is the only figure in whom we can discern character. Corinna, her fictive lover, and Dipsas, since they speak very little, reflect very little character or none at all.To Ginsberg, Corinna and her lover are "parodies, figures without character; Dipsas [is] a convention who takes her life from her very conventionality" (p. 47).Yet in the epigram to the second edition ofthe poem where the three books of the Amores speak for themselves (prosopopoeia?), Ginsberg finds reason to conclude that the work itself"is a character ...ruled by its own disposition, a vocal embodiment of all the differentia of bookishness" (p.47). There is a potential here for a confusion between literary character and a literary character. Ginsberg, I suspect, would admit that Corinna is more nearly a literary character than is (are?) the three books ofthe Amores, and I am not certain that the character of the books in the epigram is any less ironic, even parodic, than Cor­ inna's. More serious, though, is that Ginsberg nowhere specifies how he uses the word "character." While he tends to use it in the rhetorical sense of a moral self rather than as an aspect of literary form, this usage is not articulated or wholly consistent. In chapter 2, Ginsberg mentions Ovid's use of juxtaposition within a frame to create character, but he concentrates again on speech.He discusses the importance ofwhich speaker is given which stories in the Metamorphoses (Orpheus and Leuconoe); he treats characterization through narrative style (the Raven and the Crow); and he argues that a kind of "narrative amplification" suggests character in the account of Ceyx and Alcyone. His final concern, however, is with the vague notion ofhow "Ovid's characters are the stylish spokesmen of their maker's craft" (p.70). A stronger sense of direction informs chapter 3, even though its scope is broad. A summary of exegetical typology provides the necessary groundwork for a discussion of "literary typology" through which character in many medieval works must be under­ stood.Gottfried's Tristan is discussed in light ofthe Old Testament 193 STUDIES IN THE...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1949-0755
Print ISSN
0190-2407
Pages
pp. 192-196
Launched on MUSE
2018-01-03
Open Access
No
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