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REVIEWS is no one source for the Tale but that it depends on "an amalgam of the Phoebus stories with which Chaucer was familiar" (p. 9) and that both the Prologue and Tale date from the period of The Canterbury Tales and that the two form an entity. The survey of criticism skilfully charts the fortunes of the Tale. Two things emerge very clearly: the tenacity of Manly's disparaging view of it (evidently still held byJohn H. Fisher, S. S. Hussey, and Stephen Knight) and the current majority attitude which sees it, in Nevill Coghill's words, as a "little masterpiece." It is probably true that modern critics have displayed an increasing awareness ofthe linguistic and moral subtleties of the Manciple's performance, but, lest anyone should become complacent, Baker reminds the reader of just how perceptive Wordsworth, in a letter of 1840, was on the moral workings of the Tale (pp. 19-20). This is a very useful book in that it sifts a lot of material and assembles it cogently and critically so as to define the state ofthe subject. I noticed very few mistakes. In the note to line 205, "Whiting" is mistaken for "Whit­ rock," and in the note to line 183 the reference to my article in Notes and Queries (215[1970)) is misplaced: it should be cited in relation to lines 175-82 since it concerns cats, not she-wolves. JOHN SCATTERGOOD Trinity College, Dublin LARRY D. BENSON and SIEGFRIED WENZEL, eds. The Wisdom ofPoetry: Essays in Early English Literature in Honor o/Morton W. Bloomfield. Kalamazoo, Mich.: Medieval Institute Publications, 1982. Pp. 314. $22.95. No festschrift could capture the range, subtlety, intelligence, wit, and wisdom of Morton Bloomfield. His bibliography in this tribute volume lists 203 publications from 1939 to 1981 in the following fields: Old and Middle English literature, theology, Canadian and American English, contemporary poetry, Chaucer, nineteenth-century novels, drama, Italian literature, linguistics, pedagogical values-and here I give up on this list before it takes up the whole review even though I only got to item 23. The editors wisely did not attempt to solicit essays to applaud all this intellec163 STUDIES IN THE AGE OF CHAUCER tual richness; rather, they confined themselves to English medieval liter­ ature and have given us fourteen fine pieces. My review emphasizes the Chaucerian essays. Opening the Old English section Fred Robinson tries to decide whether Maxims II, 10a, sod bid swico!ost, means what it says, "truth is most tricky," or needs emendation to switolost or swuto!ost, meaning "truth is most evident," a real Bloomfieldian paradox; commendably he opts for the manuscript reading. Robert Kaske applies his favorite formula, Sapientia et Fortitudio, toJudith and William Alfred reads The Wanderer in terms ofa dramatic internal struggle toward understanding. Stanley Greenfield interprets the coast guard's famous proverbial response to Beowulfto mean "the sharp shield-warrior must learn to tell the difference between 'empty' words and words which have the resolution and capability ofdeeds behind them." Roberta Frank adds to the current debate on the dating ofBeowulf by proposing that the poet's sense of history fits best in the later period, when one could "believe that pagan Germanic legend had intellectual value and interest for Christians." A second group mostly deals with Piers Plowman. Talbot Donaldson analyzes five passages in which Langland consciously distorts Scripture, using "syntactical choplogic to exploit the potentialities of language in order to give the text an added or somewhat different meaning." George Kane portrays Langland as caught in the crisis of fourteenth-century eschatology and trying to invent new thinking tools to deal with it. Anne Middleton suggests looking at Piers in terms of its episodes as "a unit of narrative form rather than a unit of statement or meaning," giving us a better tool for understanding the poetry as "subjective testimony." Larry Benson leads off the Chaucer section, explaining The Parliament ofFowls as an occasional poem "written in 1380 on the occasion of the beginning of the negotiations that ultimately led to the marriage of Richard and Anne." He sees the dream of Scipio as political instruction for the young king, specifically about royal marriages...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1949-0755
Print ISSN
0190-2407
Pages
pp. 163-165
Launched on MUSE
2018-01-03
Open Access
No
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