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REVIEWS Ackerman's bibliography indicates, Madden minutely examined British Library MS Cotton Nero A.x, Art.3 and gave Sir Gawain and the Green Knight its title inJuly, 1829. Blanch informs that Gawain research rapidly advanced in the 1920s and 1930s and continued to develop further in the 1960s and 1970s. If the book had the date of issue on the head of each page, it might be much easier for us to consult. This volume concludes with the Index, which is very valuable for locating authors, characters, themes, motifs, allusions, topics, and explan­ atory and textual notes. Blanch would have done better to have separated authors and books from other materials in it. This bibliography, however, has made a great contribution to recent Gawain scholarship, particularly Gawain criticism. TADAHIRO lKEGAMI Seijo University PIERO BOITANI. Chaucer and the Imaginary World of Fame. Chaucer Studies, no. 10. Woodbridge: Boydell and Brewer, Ltd.; Totowa, N. J.: Barnes & Noble, 1984. Pp. xii, 252. ;£27.50, $47.95. The House ofFame is still often regarded with a sort of benign alarm-as if it were an energetic but ill-trained shaggy dog of a poem- but the advanced critical position with regard to its purpose and procedure has clearly shifted some considerable distance from, say, Lawlor's dismissal of much of it as "clowning," or even from Muscatine's more scrupulous unease about its "undigested" elements. Piero Boitani's initial approach to thesubjectdoes not at once transform theshaggydog intoa lithe tiger, but itdoesfrom thestartinsistupon thework'simportance as a 'turning point,' both in Chaucer's career and in English literary culture. Moreover, it conveys from early on a confidence that the poem not only is "an extraordi­ nary tour deforce of language and creativity" but also has "a precise plan" (p. 14). The design Boitani traces is a complex, indeed, often ambiguous, one, reflecting, as he sees it, Chaucer's responses to a multifarious tradition of attitudes to and images of fame and glory. But by the end of this book it is fairly clear what his answer will be to the recurrently posed question whether the poem is "unfinished or in-finite." 167 STUDIES IN THE AGE OF CHAUCER The establishment of a context within which Chaucer's images of fame and theirdesignare to be seen isenvisagedas an extensivejourney, and it is one forwhichBoitani, like Chaucer'sEagle,iswellqualified to actasguide. In the second chapter, which escorts us confidently from Homer to the Scholastics in little more than fifty pages, there are one or two moments when some readers might feel a little "astonyed and asweved" at the speed of the flight: the manifestations of /ofand dom in Beowulf and other Anglo-Saxon and Germanic literature, for instance, flash past rather like the 'ayerish bestes' of book2. But Boitani's thought, though itflies fast and high, does not leave cloud behind its back. His impressive range of reference-including Hebrew and Greek as well as the more frequented classical and medieval sources-enables him to distinguish clearly the meanings and etymologies of Jama and related terms and lends much justification to his claim that Koonce's earlier treatment of the subject oversimplifies the complexities of the tradition. When the journey reaches Italy in the book's third and longest chapter ("The Fourteenth-Century Fame of Fame") the range and lucidity of the exposition is matched by an even stronger sense of conviction in the critical approach. Boitani is himself a man of no little "auctoritee" in this area, and his discussion of Dante's affirmation of fame as "a means of salvation" (p. 90) and the more ambivalent attitudes of Boccaccio and Petrarch is both incisive and stimulating. Indeed, his pointabout Boccaccio's sense of onoreas an outward sign of distinction (p. 102) could, I think, be brought to bear upon a case which directly influenced Chaucer: the triumph of Arcita in the Teseida. For Arcita, whose onore, as Boitani rightly points out, iscelebrated byTheseus in Teseida 12 (as hiscounterpart's "honour" is in The Knight's Tale 3047-49) has earlier been shown as at once the recipient of a Scipio-like triumph and a mortally wounded man-one whose look, in the midst of...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1949-0755
Print ISSN
0190-2407
Pages
pp. 167-170
Launched on MUSE
2018-01-03
Open Access
No
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