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HUMANlTIES 139 The second part of the book (as I, but not the author, divide it) moves on to more complex and obscure matter, with chapter 7 ('Textual Labyrinths ') perhaps providing the turning point. Here we meet the notion not that artists of various kinds discuss mazes, literal and metaphorical, but that their works themselves are labyrinthine - in a chapter somewhat misleadingly introduced by a quotation &om Augustine in which he spoke of the fact that 'what is sought with difficulty is discovered with more pleasure.' Yet every difficulty is not a labyrinth, and in the latter part of Doob's book, under the influence of a theory of the labyrinthine construction of medieval (and much classical) literature, there seems to be just too much talk and emphasis on labyrinths: in other words, in her discussions of Virgil's Aeneid, Boethius's Consolation, Dante's Commedia, and Chaucer's House of Fame, we sometimes seem to find labyrinths dragged in; or, if not that, over-emphasized. Not that there is reason to deny the importance (even if sometimes the secondary importance) of Theseus, Minos, Ariadne, and the rest, but it appears that much of the (often highly illuminating) comment on these works would be clearer if labyrinths occupied a more modest role. That is particularly true of the chapter on Boethius, a chapter where lack of attention to other roots of such themes as return to one's homeland is most surprising. Perhaps Doob is correcting long-standing omissions, but at times it looks like over-correction. Despite such plugging of the thesis, the chapters on Virgil (discussion of the ambiguity over whether Aeneas fails or succeeds is particularly helpful) and Chaucer are highly successful, and will certainly help the amateur like myself; I cannot judge how much they will give the deeply informed professional. One of the (presumably pre-publication) readers - the come-on comments of such people on dust-jackets are a now unwelcome standard practice - tells us that the style is 'reader-friendly.' I did not find it so. That may derive &om the Janus-like character of the book itself: at the same time a guidebook to labyrinths and a work of literary criticism and even of applied literary theory. There is no doubt that it will prove very useful. (JOHN M. RISf) Kenneth R. Bartlett, Konrad Eisenbichler, and Janice Liedl, editors. Love and Death in the Renaissance Dovehouse Studies in Literature, 3. Dovehouse Editions 219 This work presents thirteen brand-new articles, all bearing in some ways on the age-old thematic pair of love and death, as seen and experienced among the different national cultures of Europe in the Renaissance. The 140 LETTERS IN CANADA 1991 book is a selection of the papers presented at the meeting of the Renaissance Society of America held in Toronto in April of 1990, the very first excursion outside of the United States for this very large group of scholars interested in all aspects of the Renaissance. Four essays were written by Canadian scholars and one by a Dutch professor at the University of Leiden; the remaining eight papers are the work of American researchers. It must have been difficult for the editors of this book to determine which of the many papers presented at the conference should ultimately be included in the collection. The result is an attractive book, carefully edited and printed, whose thematic coherence develops into a fruitful diversity of approaches, subjects, and methods. For the purpose of this review, I suggest to divide the thirteen essays into three categories. The first category is composed of papers which deal with the theme of love and death in a largely historical or cultural way. In this case, love is not a sublime passion or even a literary construction; it is a cultural construct which manifests itself in personal and social rituals such as marriage, courtship, sexual behaviour, and divorce. In fact, one could say that the entire Renaissance period was obsessed with courtship and with the institution of marriage, which many Renaissance writers started to see, within the newer Protestant ethics, as a major feature of a stable Christian society. The most interesting paper in this group is certainly...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 139-141
Launched on MUSE
2017-05-25
Open Access
No
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