In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

STUDIES IN THE AGE OF CHAUCER exemplified by Charles Muscatine's Chaucer and the French Tradition (a work cited frequently and approvingly by Kolve)-the book will clearly raise many questions and provoke much debate. RICHARD K. EMMERSON RONALD B. HERZMAN National Endowment for the Humanities A. ]. MINNIS, Medieval Theory of Authorship: Scholastic Literary At­ titudes in the Later Middle Ages. London and Berkeley, Calif.: Scalar Press, 1984. Pp. xvii, 323. $55.00. Medieval Theory ofAuthorship is a work of great importance for a variety of reasons. First among these, perhaps, is the quality and kind of earlier study on which it builds: Beryl Smalley's researches into medieval biblical criticism; to some degree Morton W. Bloomfield's suggestions about read­ ership and authorship in Chaucer's England; and the careful pursuit of the scholastics carried out by R. W. Hunt. While sharing (and acknowledging, for the most part) a debt to all ofthese, Minnis's effort takes its own direc­ tion and impressively breaks new ground. The book is valuable for yet a sec­ ond reason: it is timely. That is to say, it comes at a moment when criticism has turned an eye both on the late Middle Ages and on the idea of the writ­ ing act itself, in order to examine literature not for what it means ad rem­ the interpretation of a metaphor, say in respect to its immediate fictive locus-but rather for what the form of the written has to tell us about the intellectivepatterns of the society which produced it. In this endeavor Min­ nissharesterritoryrecentlyinhabitedby Glending Olson'sLiteratureasRec­ reation in the Later Middle Ages andJudson B. Allen's The Ethical Poetic oftheLater Middle Ages (both 1982, the year in which Minnis's own book, were it not for unfortunate printing delays, would have appeared as well). To all these challenging, informative studies Minnis brings much, through both the particularity of his focus and the quality and depth of his insight and learning. Unlike Olson and Allen, his concern is less with the uses of literature, and its consequentjustificationon grounds of authorized utilitas, than with the outline of literary awareness presented us by biblical commentaries and related books, such as Peter Lombard's Sentences. As he 218 REVIEWS makes plain in his introduction, Minnis seeks to present "the contribution made by several generations of schoolmen who, in the main, were con­ nected with the schools and universities of late medieval France and England" (p. 2). His intial chapter is devoted to illustrating twelfth­ century scholastic adaptations ofsuchcritical tools as then lay at hand: first, distinctions borrowed from classical (especially Ciceronian) rhetoric and, later, spurred by the revolution of Aquinas, the categorical methodology of Aristotle. The materials Minnis scutinizes are prologues by scholastic critics to the work of men considered to be auctors. An "auctor" Minnis defines as "someone who was at once a writer and an authority, someone not merely to be read but also to be respected and believed" (p. 10). Such a person hasauctoritas as the purpose ofhis work-that is, the setting down, for dissemination to others, of truth and wisdom. In this first chapter Minnis considers the models for prologues to commentaries rendered during the twelfth century and gives special attention to what R. W. Hunt has labeled "A, B, and C types." "C," which Minnis argues steadily evolves into the dominant form, very likely was derived from Boethius, whose commentary on Porphyry's Isogoge listed under six headings the investiga­ tions appropriate to any philosophic treatise: the intention ofthe work and its usefulness, order, authenticity, title, and the category of learning to which it belonged. This mode of classification was adapted by subsequent scholars, pri­ marily to accommodate the special case ofthe Bible. In chapter 2, Minnis describes the process by which these adaptations became solidified into a common pattern, which included the title, author's name, intention, subject matter, manner of literary procedure, order of arrangement, utzl­ itas, and branch of learning. He supports his argument with well-chosen examples from prologues to commentaries on Ovid and the biblical books, giving pride ofplace to those addressing the difficult Song ofSolomon and the Psalter. Chapters 3 and 4...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
1949-0755
Print ISSN
0190-2407
Pages
pp. 218-221
Launched on MUSE
2018-01-03
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.