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REVIEWS general approbation, those of us whose special love is Langland will have access to new insights about the birth process of his life work. One only wishes that Rigg and Brewer had shunned the temptation of marketing hyperbole and titled it "An Early Draft of Piers Plowman." Some of the resistance that their thesis will meet is likely to be based on the perception that, valuable as their discovery may be, they have, in calling it a separate version of the poem, been guilty of claiming too much for it. Many Piers scholars, one imagines, after reading Z, are going to see it as an early and rather odd draft of A and willsympathizewith Kane's decision to exclude it fromhis collations of the A MSS. Wehavealways known that, if we wished to narrow our focus sharply enough, more than three versions of Piers could be discerned. What else should be expected of a poem being constantly revised over some twenty years? But it merely confuses the issues to label something like Bodley 851 as a different version when its plot is identical to A's and no longer and when the percentage of unique ex­ pository material is so modest. ROBERT ADAMS Sam Houston State University THOMAS W. Ross, ed. The Mtfler's Tale. A Variorum Edition ofthe Works a/Geoffrey Chaucer, Vol. 2. The Canterbury Tales, Part 3. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1983. Pp. xxix, 273. $39. 50. The General Editors' preface to this edition of the Miller's Tale announces that "the complete justification for a variorum edition is the record it presents of the history of scholarship, in short, the commentary" (p. xvi). This programme is carried out by the editor of this volume in the Variorum Edition of the Works of Geoffrey Chaucer through a review of scholarly writings on aspects of the Miller's Tale, a "survey of criticism," a discussion in the introduction of certain manuscripts and all the major printed editions and by the provision of a full apparatus to the text he prints, consisting of textual collations and detailed commentary in notes. The considerable effort of research that this represents is at least partly reflected by the large and useful bibliographical index. Undoubtedly this volume, 237 STUDIES IN THE AGE Of CHAUCER and the Variorum series as a whole, will be amongst the first points of reference for anyone working on the Canterbury Tales in the future. The introduction to this edition of the Miller's Tale is divided into two parts, headed 'Critical' and 'Textual Commentary.' The Critical commen­ tary, as well as reviewing discussion of the sources and analogues of the Miller's Tale andcriticalviews of the taleitself, alsoprovidesamoregeneral introduction to some topics in Chaucer criticism. It includes, for instance, an extensive review of the development of critical opinion about the fabliaux (pp. 7-12) and, with the Miller's Tale as its focus, a resume of critical reaction to the moral propriety of the Canterbury Tales as a whole (pp. 12-25). As other volumes of the Variorum Edition are published it will be instructive to see how the critical history of the Canterbury Tales appears from the perspective of individual editors. What emerges most clearly in Dr. Ross's survey of views of the Miller's Tale is a surprising continuity between the concern of the earliest readers and that of later critics with the morality of the tale. In Dryden's suppression of the tale and in Robertsonian apologetics there are shared critical concerns, if very different critical reactions. It is, perhaps, unsurprising that the broad humour of the Miller's Tale should provoke a reaction, but the critical insistence upon this one aspect of the tale is of some interest in the light of the fact that Chaucer, himself, seems to go out of his way to pre-empt this sort ofcritical approach. In the Prologue to the tale the narrator acknowl­ edges the churlishness of both Miller and Reeve, but pleads the concept of decorum: ...for I moot reherse Hir tales alle. be they bet or werse, Or ellis falscn som of my matere. (lines 3173-3175) It doesn't really matter...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1949-0755
Print ISSN
0190-2407
Pages
pp. 237-242
Launched on MUSE
2018-01-03
Open Access
No
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