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REVIEWS HENRYJ. STAUFFENBERG, ed. The Southern Version ofCursor Mundi. Vol. 3, lines 12713-17082. Ottawa Mediaeval Texts and Studies, no. 13. Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press, 1985. Pp. xxii, 242. $25.00. The Cursor Mundi is one of those Middle English poems known better in anthologies than in extenso. Its first and only complete edition was pre­ pared nearly one hundred years ago (between 1874 and 1893) by Richard Morris for the Early English Text Society. Since then the work has tended to recede from view, and oddly enough this may owe something to the fact that, once in print, a text that lacks conspicuous interest, whether literary or historical, is eminently capable oflosing something ofits urgency for the medievalist. This new five-volume edition, steered masterfully under the general editorship of Sarah M. Horrall, will go some way toward rescuing the Cursor Mundi from the atrophy of complacence. When complete, it will be the second edition of the poem available. But perhaps it would be more nearly correct to say that it too is an editio princeps, for the transmission of the Cursor Mundi, like that of many a medieval work, is not a straightforward matter. The poem exists in two versions. It was originally written about 1300 in the north of England, and this is the version which forms the basis ofMorris's edition. A second version was composed in the second half of the fourteenth century in the south­ central Midlands. It substantially revised the ending of the earlier poem and made its northern text accessible to a southern readership by altering its language. The new edition is putting out this southern version, and to this extent it is an edition ofa new poem, fashioned from the earlier one in response to the changed tastes and requirements of a later period; conse­ quently, the earlier northern version still awaits a second edition, and there is ample room for one. HenryJ. Stauffenberg's edition of the portion of Cursor Mundi dealing with Christ's ministry and Passion comprises volume 3 of the series. It is attractively printed, with a handsome full-color illustration offolio 87v of the manuscript chosen for the base text oftheedition, College ofArms MS 57. Quality of publication happily extends to quality of content, for this edition is of a high standard and can be recommended wholeheartedly. However, readers ofit will need all five volumes before they can use this one to fullest effect, and certainly they will need volume 1, which contains an essential apparatus. Consequently, final assessment of the contribution made by this volume must necessarily await publication ofthe entire series. In the meanwhile volume 3 augurs very well for those that are to come and continues the excellent promise of the first volume published in 1978. 261 STUDIES IN THE AGE OF CHAUCER The main concern of the short introduction is with the establishment of the sources of the ministry and Passion section here edited. The sources, many of which were earlier identified by Haenisch and Napier, are briefly but admirably discussed, and the interlace of their use throughout the poem is unraveled with clarity. After the source discussion follows a state­ ment of editorial principles (for a full account of which volume 1 must be consulted) and a note on the presentation of the Passion narrative in this edition. Comparison with its edited text of the portion of text facsimiled (lines 14868-966, pp. 73-76) shows the editor'stranscriptionaccuracy to be impeccable, though his exact placing of thepunctus at the end of verses is often debatable. For example, sometimes thepunctus is set a little above the line (here·, line 14934) and sometimes on the line, like a modern period (fete., line 14938). Such a distinction is not categorically justified by the manuscript. Other slips appear no more than printer's errors, as, for example, Pis Lazarus (recte Pis Lazarus), on page 49, line 14128. The most substantial part of the commentary is found in a series of appended notes on the text. Once more the main concern of these is with source study, and once more they are richly informative. I noticed in this section a solitary printingerror: tristifia for...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1949-0755
Print ISSN
0190-2407
Pages
pp. 261-263
Launched on MUSE
2018-01-03
Open Access
No
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