restricted access The Palis of Honoure by Gavin Douglas, and: Wynnere and Wastoure and The Parlement of the Thre Ages ed. by Warren Ginsberg (review)
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STUDIES IN THE AGE OF CHAUCER and on the imaginative interpretive strategies made available during the last twenty years. Despite his bibliographical updates and newly minted introduction that gestures toward theater semiotics, Diller's project now seems vague and naive, his conclusions not so much wrong as blinkered, his formalist stance incapable of appreciating the extraordinary ways that texts-particularly play texts-can be teased into speaking with their own voices. Since the book claims to be updated, it would have been useful, for the liturgical plays, to take advantage of the late work of C. Clifford Flanigan (whose sudden death in 1993 is much to be lamented), which explores ritual potential in exciting and suggestive ways. For the cycle plays the important work by Walter Cohen or Kathleen Ashley or An­ thony Gash (none of whom is cited), among others, might have helped temper and enrich the modern incarnation of Diller's work, or at least to indicate some further developments since the book was originally written. Conducted without benefit of the tools of discourse analysis, without the crucial contextualizing data provided by the Records of Early English Drama, without the fruits of the great surge in local history studies, with­ out the insights of cultural anthropologists, reader-response critics, new historicists, feminists, cultural materialists, without even the basic notion ofintertextuality-which lies at the heart ofhis argument-this book acts as a sobering reminder that we, as critics, cannot go home again. It may be ungracious, but it is surely not self-congratulatory, to ask, Who would want to? Diller's work may have been helpful twenty years ago; it now acts mainly as a monument to a bygone era when formalist criticism told us more and more about less and less in literary texts without ever telling us why it might matter. JOHN C. COLDEWEY University of Washington GAVIN DouGLAS. The Palis of Honoure. Ed. David Parkinson. TEAMS Middle English Texts Series. Kalamazoo, Mich.: Medieval Institute Pub­ lications, 1992. Pp. vii, 140. $7.95. Wynnere and Wastoure and The Parlement ofthe Thre Ages. Ed. Warren Gins­ berg. TEAMS Middle English Texts Series. Kalamazoo, Mich.: Medieval Institute Publications, 1992. Pp. vii, 82. $6.95. 182 REVIEWS The canon of medieval literature, more than that of any other period of English writing, is in many ways a canon ofeconomics. Since the advent of the New Criticism, Old and Middle English have been increasingly mar­ ginalized in the theory and practice ofliterary studies, and this marginaliz­ ation, in turn, has been exacerbated by rising printing costs. Publishers understandably print only what they can sell, but since teachers can teach only from what is available in print, a circular situation arises in which only the works already in print are likely to elicit sufficient demand to be printed. For Middle English studies this means a proliferation of editions of Chaucer, the Gawain poet, and a handful of other select figures, but it also mean,s that, though the canon (as far as teaching goes) is sometimes enlarged by the appearance ofa students' edition ofHoccleve or Henryson, such enlargement has a good chance of being only temporary. The TEAMS series in general and these two editions in particular help counteract this situation. The series is presented as "designed for classroom use" by focusing on works not readily available in students' editions and by offering editions that "maintain the linguistic integrity of the original work but within the parameters of modern reading conventions." In both editions this maintenance is accomplished by a briefintroduction and bib­ liography followed by a slightly normalized text (yoghs and thorns, for example, are eliminated) framed by marginal translations of individual words and foot-of-the-page translations ofentire lines. After the texts come explanatory notes, textual notes, and a straightforward glossary, generally devoted to single-word equivalences. This is indeed a user-friendly format for the intended audience that potentially can offer students sufficient background materials to enable informed classroom discussion without at the same time overwhelming them and the work with historical trivia and conflicting critical opinion. As David Parkinson points out in the introduction to his splendid edi­ tion of The Palis ofHonoure, Gavin Douglas's...


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