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STUDIES IN THE AGE OF CHAUCER curious applications ofliterary terms. The volume might have been proofread more thoroughly. MARK ALLEN University of Texas at San Antonio SANDRA NESS IHLE, Malory's Grail Quest: Invention and Adapta­ tion in Medieval Prose Romance. Madison, Wis.: University of Wisconsin Press, 1983. Pp. xii, 199. $22.50. Sandra Ness Ihle's Malory's Grail Quest is a good study of both Malory's "Sankgreal" and its source, the Vulgate Queste de/ Saint Graaf. Owing much to the influence of Eugene Vinaver, Ihle re­ views in her opening chapter theories concerning the relationship of medieval architecture to literary theory and in the following chapters compares Malory's conception ofthe Grail with that found in his source, discusses the structure of the French Queste, and points out major differences between the Queste and Malory's "Sankgreal." Although its title emphasizes Malory, this book is equally impor­ tant as a study of his source, since 55 of its 167 pages are devoted exclusively to the Vulgate Queste, and most of the rest involves comparisons of the two works. The opening discussion of architec­ ture and medieval literary theory is, in fact, more applicable to the Queste than to Malory, and in the chapter on the structure of the Queste manuscript, Ihle makes most use ofthis material. Although Malory's work, she believes, is closer to the "Totality" of Roman­ esque style than it is to the "Partiality" of the Gothic, she does not stress architectural influence upon Malory (pp. 27-28). This, I feel, is wise, for, although she makes a good case for the influence of Gothic architecture and rhetorical treatises upon the thirteenth­ century Cistercian author of the Queste, such material is not as applicable to Malory. The chiefrhetorical device that Ihle finds him employing in his adaptation of the Queste is abbreviation, a tech­ nique practiced by generations of earlier Middle English romance 196 REVIEWS writers; and Malory was probably influenced more by these writers than by rhetoricians and architecture. Moreover, Ihle's conclusions about Malory are common-sense observations based upon a com­ parison of his "Sankgreal" with its source, and she would probably have reached most of these even if she had never looked at the Poetria nova or considered any architectural similarities. But Ihle's conclusions, however she reached them, are worth­ while, and her book is one that will be of value to students of both the Vulgate Queste and Malory. This study contributes to a better understanding ofthe structure ofthe Queste and gives a clearer idea of what Malory was attempting in his "Sankgreal." Her remarks on Malory's conceptions ofthe Grail and chivalry, his characterizations of Lancelot and Guenevere, and his attitude toward blood ties can lead to better interpretation of Malory's other tales as well. Some of the points she makes are not new, and other scholars have noted that Malory was uncomfortable with the Queste's condemnation of Arthurian chivalry, but few have covered the subject in so much detail. And althoughVinaverwas aware ofanumber ofthe changes that Ihle discusses, his belief that the "Sankgreal" was the "least original" of Malory's works, "to all intents and purposes a transla­ tion of the French Queste'' (The Works ofThomas Malory , 2d ed. [Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1967], 3:1534), has undoubtedly caused many readers to underestimate Malory's achievement. Ihle's book, although handling Vinaver's views with great respect, gives a clearer notion of what Malory was attempting. Although Ihle does not consider whether the "Sankgreal" is part ofa larger whole (p. 172, n. 6), some ofher conclusions will interest those concerned with the relations between Malory's various tales. For example, she notes that, for Malory, Lancelot's instability is "his main fault, a fault not mentioned in the Queste" (p. 153). Anyone seeking links between the "Sankgreal" and other tales could argue that Malory's emphasis upon instability prepares for Lancelot's turn­ ing back to Guenevere at the beginning of tale 7 and for Guenevere's fear at the end of tale 8 that Lancelot, in spite of his promise to lead a holy life, "woll turne to the worlde agayne" (3.1253...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1949-0755
Print ISSN
0190-2407
Pages
pp. 196-198
Launched on MUSE
2018-01-03
Open Access
No
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