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STUDIES IN THE AGE OF CHAUCER recognition of how these ultimate "de-composing" processes may reflect certain linguistic theories and controversies of Chaucer's own time: Ockham, in this respect, counterbalances Borges. This is a reading of the poem then, that does ample justice both to its modern appeal and to its medieval filiations. The complexity of Chaucer's approach to his subject-the "wide oscillation," if not conflict, in his attitude toward glory and fame-is for the most part scrupulouslyassessed. I think, however, that there is some tendency-perhaps in the interests of linking Chaucer more closely with the Italian avant-garde-to overstress the "triumphal" nature of the representation of the poets on their pillars in Fame's hall (pp. 129, 172-73). Chaucer's comparison of these figures "en masse to rooks' nests" (HF 1514-16) suggests to my mind a concept of tradition that is not wholly harmonious or celebratory. Boitani's prose throughout carries conviction and often achieves striking precision. There are some slips in syntactic and prepositional usage which an alert editor ought surely to have picked up, but these are neither frequent nor seriously misleading (and it is perhaps no more than fitting that a book on such a subject should conclude with an anacoluthon). In general, the presentation is worthy of the quality of the argument, and the ideas are made accessible without oversimplification. The book as a whole offers lively stimuli and constructive clues for those who have newly stumbled into Chaucer's Domus Dedali, as well as for experienced labyrinthophiles. NICHOLAS R. HAVELY University of York PIERO BOITANI, ed. Chaucer and the Italian Trecento. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1983. Pp. xii, 313. $49.50. The original essay collection has in recent years assumed an ever more important role in scholarship, almost completely displacing its progenitor, thefestschrift, often challenging the periodical, and even vying with the single-author work for the professor's ever less meaningful book money. Even more than the reprint collection, it depends for its success on its scholar-editor, on his insight in choosing the topic, and on his thorough 170 REVIEWS appreciation of the work being done in the field. In this regard Boitani is impeccable: he fully understands the richness and centrality ofhis topic, a topic heretofore fractioned, perhaps because of the range of expertise it demands; and he has brought together an array ofscholars all ofwhom ably present and advance their particular subjects. The result is a book wholly integrated by its topic and yet enriched by the divers approaches of its individual contributors. The first three essays-John Lamer's "Chaucer's Italy," Janet Coleman's "English Culture in the Fourteenth Century," and Wendy Child's "Anglo­ Italian Contacts"-arefine examples ofbackground studies, artfully avoid­ ing meaningless enthusiasm by almost flawlessly selecting specific yet representative material. Such careful selection implies thoughtful and thorough control, and this is evidenced by the range and judiciousness of Coleman's overview and, even more strikingly, by the insight and informa­ tion of Childs' essay, certainly the best short work on this highly complex topic. The two essays that follow-]. A. W. Bennet's "Chaucer, Dante, and Boccaccio" (aslightlyalteredreprintofa 1976 lecture)and Boitani's "What Dante Meant to Chaucer"-use a method (Lowes' in vacuo "linked atoms") and a tone (approaching Danteolatry) that may be open to question. Both essays, however, are masterful examples of their kind. Significantly, the seven remaining essays focus on aspects of the Chau­ cer-Boccaccio relationship. Three ofthese-David Wallace's "Chaucer and Boccaccio's Early Writings," Barry Windeatt's "Chaucer and the Ft!­ ostrato," and Robin Kirkpatrick's "The Wake ofthe Commedia: Chaucer's Canterbury Tales and Boccaccio's Decameron"-should certainly be in­ cluded among the essential articles on their respective subjects. While only slightly less impressive, Boitani's "Style, Iconography and Narrative: The Lesson of the Teseida" succeeds in reflecting that scholar's past work on Boccaccio (1977) and on the narrative genre (1982). The remaining arti­ cles-Kirkpatrick's study of the Griselda story, Havely's informative "Chaucer, Boccaccio and the Friars," and Godman's careful look at the pertinence of Boccaccio's Latin works...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1949-0755
Print ISSN
0190-2407
Pages
pp. 170-172
Launched on MUSE
2018-01-03
Open Access
No
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