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

STUDIES IN THE AGE OF CHAUCER understanding that tradition are only first steps toward understanding the poem. Dronke does not refer to these studies in his notes. Dronke's reminder that there can be many critical approaches to the poem is a salutary one. For that reminder readers of his book can be grateful.Perhaps a more pointed way ofsaying the same thing is that more interactionbetween American and British schools ofDante criticism might prove fruitful. Dronke's study embodies this both by what it says and by what it leaves out. RONALD B. HERZMAN SUNY- Geneseo A. S. G. EDWARDS, intro. Manuscript Pepys 2006: a Facsimile, Magdalene College, Cambridge. The Facsimile Series of the Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, vol. 6. Norman, Okla.: Pilgrim Books; Woodbridge, Suf­ folk: Boydell & Brewer, 1985. Pp. xxxii, 418. $144.00. W hereas the nineteenth-century Chaucer Society provided transcripts of many of the major Chaucer manuscripts, its twentieth-century successor, the New Chaucer Society, is exploiting newer technologies to provide very desirable facsimiles of several of the more important manuscripts. The latest of these is a volume comprised of two late-fifteenth-century manu­ scripts of "Pieces of Chaucer," as described by the early cataloguer of the library which the irrepressible diarist and man-of-affairs Samuel Pepys bequeathed to Magdalene College, Cambridge. Neither of these manuscripts, apparently joined before Pepys acquired the volume, enjoys distinction as a textual authority, exceptin one instance, the unique version ofMerciless Beaute preserved in the second manuscript. In the first manuscript are preserved fragmentary texts of The Legend of Good Women, The House ofFame, An ABC, The Complaint ofMars, The Complaint ofVenus, The Parliament ofPowis, a complete text ofFortune, and severalnon-Chaucerian works, including three by Lydgate (The Com­ plaint of the Black Knight, The Temple of Glas, and The Serpent of Division), The Three Kings ofCologne, and Benedict Burgh's Cato Major and Cato Minor. The second manuscript in the volume is exclusively Chaucerian, with texts of The Tale ofMelibee, The Parsons Prologue and Tale, Chaucers Retraction, The Complaint ofMars, The Complaint of 212 REVIEWS Venus, Anelida andArct'te, Fortune, The Envoy to Scogan, An ABC, The Complaint ofChaucer to His Purse, Truth, and (as mentioned) Merciless Beaute; of the verse only Scogan, Purse, and (apparently) the unique Merciless Beaute are complete. The introduction to the facsimile by A. S. G. Edwards, like those of its predecessors in the series, is spare and lean, the work of a competent and knowledgeable scholar, who provides a description of the contents and separate sections treating date, material and structure, ruling, layout and presentation of texts, handwriting, punctuation, correction and annota­ tion, decoration, binding, and the history of the volume. To keep the introduction spare and lean and the volume reasonably priced, only a summary discussion of these topics was possible, with the result that it breaks less new ground than Edwards would probably have desired. An exception is the discussion of handwriting, which presents a fuller and more authoritative palaeographical analysis than has hitherto been done. (In view of the economies, inclusion of the final lines of each text in the description of the contents seems prodigal, especially since many of the endings are atelous, none of the works is of uncertain identity, and the original texts are, after all, just a few pages away.) The treatment of ruling and decoration is particularly valuable because of the lack of color in the facsimile and apparent variations in the photo­ graphic reproduction, but it does leave some unanswered questions. If the writing area is 205-10 x 110-50 mm and the leaves 270 x 180 mm, the very thin marginsevident in the facsimilesuggestthat it does notreproducethe leaves fully. If so, we understand why the description of item 5 contains a heading not visible in the facsimile and why Edwards refers tentatively to apparent cropping by an earlybinder, when the losttops ofinitials on pages 270-78 would otherwise leave no doubt that the volume was cropped. This problem may arise from exigencies imposed by the need to photograph Pepys MSS in situ, as may the apparent variations in the quality of the facsimile, the second part being much sharper (even...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 212-215
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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.