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REVIEWS Ralph Hanna's "Mandeville" is an exemplary bibliographical essay. Professor Hanna devotes a good deal of his discussion to unravelling the textual problems ofthe Travelsand to a review ofthe question ofthe work's genre. Hanna's desiderata for studies of the Travels are direct and unam­ biguous and stand in sharp contrast to the vague "reassessments" called for in most ofthe other essays. His primary bibliography is a trim and succinct addendum which notes only omissions in and corrections to of the bibli­ ographies of Seymour and Bennett. In his essay "Scholarship and Culture" (Atlantic Monthly, November 1984)Jacques Barzun comments that, these days, "Reference books are as numerous as real books-manuals, digests, and dictionaries on every subject, which deliverinformation in capsule form." Middle EnglishProse is a reference book anda real book. While it is not a "succinct, comprehen­ sive reference guide," as the preface claims, it will be a most useful addition to the medievalist's library. A.J. COLAIANNE Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University JOHN H. FISHER, MALCOLM RICHARDSON' and JANE L. FISHER, An An­ thology of Chancery English. Knoxville, Tenn.: The University of Tennessee Press, 1984. Pp. xvii, 416. $49.50. For nearly a decade John Fisher and his students have been studying the relationship between the increased use of English in government corre­ spondence during the first half of the fifteenth century and the develop­ ment of a standard written dialect of English. The latest installment in what has become an impressive body ofscholarship on Chancery English is the first substantial collection ofthe primary materials that have been the object of their study. Most of the 241 documents in the collection date from the period 1417-1455, and all but 70 ofthem are printed here for the first time. The detailed commentary on the documents (pp. 3-51) gives special attention to the organization and personnel of the government bureau191 STUDIES IN THE AGE OF CHAUCER cracy; the spread ofChancery hand in official documents and its correlation with a steady increase in uniformity of usage; and the orthography, vocabulary, and morphology of the documents. A brief introduction also traces the outlines ofthe broader theory set forth in Fisher's "Chancery and the Emergence of Standard Written English in the Fifteenth Century," Speculum, 52 (1977), 870-99 and Richardson's "Henry V, the English Chancery, and Chancery English," Speculum, 55(1980), 726-50. Build­ ing on the research ofM. L. Samuels, Fisher and his associates have argued convincinglythat Henry V's "linguisticnationalism" provided the impetus for the dramatic increase in the use ofEnglish in official documents during the decades following his death and that the continuity in office of the Chancery clerks was responsible for the increasedregularity ofusage in the documents produced during this period. The means whereby Chancery standard becamea national standard still need further study, as the authors themselves recognize(p. xvii). It would also be interesting to know more about the relationship between training of Chancery clerks by appren­ ticeship and instruction in the ars dictaminis, which reached its height at Oxford during the forty years immediately prior to the period covered by the present anthology. But these are topics for the definitive study of Chancery English that we all await. The documents are divided into four groups: (1) The Signet Letters of Henry V(# 1-105),(2) Later Signet and Privy Seal Papers(# 106-160),(3) Proceedings of Parliament and Chancery{# 161-232), and(4) Indentures (# 233-241). Of these, only the first is complete, encompassing all of the surviving English Signet letters issued by Henry V between his departure for France in 1417 and hisdeath in1422. Not only are these letters evidence of Henry's "linguistic nationalism," but they are also the earliest docu­ ments in English that show some attempt at regularizing style and lan­ guage by eliminating scribal idiosyncrasies. The second and third groups, which comprise "random" selections of documents from the four offices whose combined output constitutes what the authors, following Samuels, call "Chancery English," illustrate the steady spread ofa standardized form of English in the official documents produced during the three decades following the death of Henry V. Finally, a group of nine non-Chancery...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1949-0755
Print ISSN
0190-2407
Pages
pp. 191-194
Launched on MUSE
2018-01-03
Open Access
No
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