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REVIEWS anthologies contammg selections from Hoccleve, cm1c1sm and back­ ground information, and articles. Bernard O'Donoghue (a fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford) has pre­ pared a really good selection from Hoccleve's poems, and Carcanet Press has produced a book in relatively inexpensive yet pleasing format that will be available and useful to advanced undergraduates and graduates who want a positive, competent, and accurate introduction to Hoccleve the poet and to one ofChaucer's most charming, interesting, talkative, reveal­ ing, and informative contemporaries. DOUGLASJ. McMILLAN East Carolina University DEREK PEARSALL, ed. The Nun's Priest's Tale. A Variorum Edition ofthe Works of Geoffrey Chaucer. Vol. 2, The Canterbury Tales, Part 9. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1984. Pp. xxviii, 284. $42.50. Since this volume forms part of the Variorum Edition of Chaucer, it naturally exhibits the virtues and shortcomings of the project as a whole. The volume contains an introduction which is mainly devoted to previous scholarship, particularly that dealing with critical interpretation and tex­ tual scholarship. There is a Table of Correspondence among certain early manuscripts together with a description ofthose manuscripts and modern editions. The text itself is based on Hengwrt, though the apparatus criticus records variants from a limited number of manuscripts and from printed editions. There are copious notes to the text, which is followed by bibli­ ographical and general indices. A question that inevitably presents itself with a volume like this is: What is a variorum edition trying to achieve which is different from other editions? One answer would surely be to present a picture of the way in which the text has been transformed and edited since it was written. In fact this is not achieved. The edition concentrates on the establishment of Chaucer's text to the disregard of many fifteenth-century versions. Only a few early manuscripts are dealt with, and even major additions and omissions which occur in later manu­ scripts are not recorded in the apparatuscriticus. Considerableattention is 229 STUDIES IN THE AGE OF CHAUCER given to printed editions (except for the most recent), but they in practice differ less among themselves than the manuscripts do. One is presented with a picture of the text in the early fifteenth century and from the introduction of printing onwards; but what happened to the text in between is largely ignored. In many ways, therefore, this edition repeats what was found in the Manly-Rickert edition instead of providing new insights into the history of the poem as it could, and should, have done. Furthermore, The Canterbury Tales presents a particular difficulty in that eacheditor dealsonly witha single tale. It is not easy forhim to consider the evidence from a whole manuscript or printed edition to evaluate what principles its editor was working with to decide what light it might throw upon his treatment of the tale which is his principal concern. Some of these features may be consideredthrough the lines not found in Hengwrt, the base manuscript. The Nun's Priest's End/ink is found in Dd.4.24 and some other manuscripts, and extra lines are found in the Prologue in many manuscripts, including Ellesmere. In addition to the End/ink Dd.4.24 also probably contained the extra lines after line 4060 which are found in Egerton 2726, a manuscript dependent on it, though the actual leaf is missing from Dd.4.24 itself. Pearsall thinks that the End/ink is an "imperfectly canceled" (p. 5) section of the first version of the tale. The additional lines of the Prologue are part of Chaucer's final revised version. So he sees three authorial versions: one with End/ink (as in Dd.4.24), one with neither End/ink nor extra lines in the Prologue (as in Hengwrt), and one with extra lines in the Prologue (as in Ellesmere). Whether it is reasonable to accept these three presumed versions is one thing, but once an editor has accepted them, the way in which they are presented is quite another. Pearsall presents the extra lines of the Prologue andthe End/ink in his text, even thoughhe accepts that they are from three separate versions. He does not present the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1949-0755
Print ISSN
0190-2407
Pages
pp. 229-233
Launched on MUSE
2018-01-03
Open Access
No
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