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REVIEWS This is not to say that the Consolation is free from the influence of Christianity. Here andthere Boethius's language echoes Christian writings, and in being accessible to human prayers and a "judge whosees all things," Lady Philosophy's God is more directly involved in human affairs than is the remote One of the Neoplatonists. But to see howremote Christianity is from the Consolation, it is only necessary to ask whether Lady Philosophy's Godwould take on human flesh and die a hideous and ignominious death so that human souls could spend an eternity of bliss reunited with their bodies. That the third decade of the sixth century could produce a work of non-Christian religion greater than anything the Christians themselves had been capable of for the previous one hundred years suggests thatJustinian was not tilting against windmills when, just five years after the death of Boethius, he denied pagans the right to teach and closed the University of Athens. But whatever we decide about the religion of the Consolation, Lerer's learned, sensitive, and creative exploration of its "thematic and meth­ odological coherence" will need little modification. Doing just what it sets out to do,Boethius andDialoguegreatly enriches ourunderstandingof the thought and artistry of the Consolation. We need more books like this. EMERSON BROWN,JR. Vanderbilt University R. E. LEWIS, N. F. BLAKE, and A. S. G. EDWARDS. Index ofMiddleEnglish Prose in Print. Garland Reference Library ofthe Humanities, vol.537. New York and London: Garland, 1985. Pp. xxxiii, 362. $54.00. It is a reflection of the relative modern popularity of Middle English verse and prose that an index of the former appeared in 1943 while the latter has beenaccorded similar treatment only with the present volume. The reasons for this difference in popularity are not, ofcourse, difficult to find. To this postromantic age, for instance, the ambiguity of the Prioress and her Tale are far more alluring than is Manereforto Make a Nun, and, similarly, the Eagle's disquisition on sound waves entertains better thanJohn Leylond's grammatical treatise, Informacio. But such a postromantic perspective can offer a distorted picture of what literature meant to a late-medieval audi­ ence, and indeed it is noteworthy that Leylond's Informacio survives in nine versions reprinted numerous times during the fifteenth and sixteenth 229 SWDIES IN THE AGE OF CHAUCER centuries. By medieval standards, "a lytel thyng in prose" could be the artistic and educational equal of any "tale of myrthe." The editors of the Index ofPn.nted Middle English Prose have, thus, compiled a valuable book, for with it the diverse and extensive Middle English prose corpus is madeknown and accessible. The book begins with a lucid eleven-page essay which outlines the nature of Middle English prose and details the scope and objectives ofthe Index. The problems which the editors confronted in compiling the Index indicate some of the areas of MiddleEnglish prose which are still in need ofinvestigation. For instance, as readers of!Elfric's later Homilies will recognize, the distinction between prose and poetry is not always obvious in medieval literature. Moreover, a "decision as to what constitutes the more literary types of prose, to which this volume is generally confined, is also difficult" (p. xxii). Andgiven these and other difficulties stemming from our insufficient knowledge ofMiddle English prose standards, it is sometimes unclear "what precisely constitutes a complete and integral work" (p. xxiii). In the event, the decision to cite "everything which is not included in the index of verse, including a few pieces which modern editors now print as prose" (p. xxi) was a good one. Two objectives underlie the Index: First, we try to provide a bibliographical overview of editorial work completed on Middle English prose texts. Second, we seek to provide a bibliographical tool of assistance to scholars and students working with Middle English prose materials, panicularly with such materials in manuscript forms; it will provide them for the first time with a comprehensive means of identifying texts and relating them to other manuscript copies or printed versions. [P. xxvi] Since the focus of the Index is literary prose, parish records, guild books, and the like are excluded. The Index...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1949-0755
Print ISSN
0190-2407
Pages
pp. 229-231
Launched on MUSE
2018-01-03
Open Access
No
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