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STUDIES IN THE AGE OF CHAUCER Richmond's interpretive focus appears at times to override introductory considerations. For example, she treats The Pardoner's Tale as a sermon; she includes his Prologue in her discussion because he there speaks about his preaching (pp. 118-23). By contrast, The Wife ofBath's Tale, placed among the secular romances, is treated in total isolation from its Prologue (pp. 7279 ). Richmond several times alludes to a "Marriage Debate, initiated by the Wife ofBath" (p. 125), but she never deals directly with the substance of this "debate" or of the Wife's Prologue. It appears that Richmond does not wish to discuss material that, as she indicates in a footnote (p. 201 n. 5), she has treated elsewhere. Thus she presents the Wife ofBath's Tale as if it had nothing to do with its Prologue; it is a romance, "an argument for a virtuous life, especially difficult in a world of chivalry" (p. 73), centered upon the moral education of its (nameless!) knight. In an introductory book on Chaucer, one might reasonably expect more coherently presented attention to be paid to the Wife of Bath's Prologue and the "Marriage De­ bate" than we find here. One doubts that scholars or advanced students of Chaucer will find much of interest in this book. The interpretive material is scarcely devel­ oped and seldom original, while large areas of critical interest are often slighted or ignored. On the other hand, it seems to this reviewer too advanced and eccentric a study to be of much use to a novice reader or introductory student as a sort of companion to a first reading of Chaucer's poetry. Who, then, would or should read this book? "I kan nat seye." MICHAEL D. CHERNISS University of Kansas A.G. RIGG. A History ofAnglo-Latin Literature,1066-1422. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992. Pp. ix, 414. $95.00. A.G. Rigg's A History ofAnglo-Latin Literature, 1066-1422, as its title suggests, is a broad historical survey of the Latin literature written in England between the Norman Conquest and the death of Henry V. Rigg modestly describes his study as being "scarcely more than an outline," a "rough sketch map" of this variegated and largely uncharted literary land­ scape. His modesty is appropriate, for it would hardly be possible for any one scholar to do much more than that in a single volume, considering the 254 REVIEWS amount of literary material there is to contend with. Nevertheless, despite the author's humility in the face of what seems a daunting undertaking, the book is remarkable for what it attempts and for what it achieves. Rigg's stated purpose is to fill in an important gap in our knowledge of the literature of medieval England, and his study does that admirably. Anglo-Latin Literature is divided into four sections, each of which corre­ sponds to a major political-historical division: (1) William I to Stephen, (2) Henry II toJohn, (3) Henry III to Edward I, and (4) Edward II to Henry V. These sections are treated as discrete units, for the most part, with intro­ ductions that lay out the historical background and conclusions that gen­ eralize about the literary currents of the subperiod just discussed in its particulars. In each section Rigg situates authors and works firmly within their historical· context. Throughout the work the twin emphases are on chronology and historical contextualization, both of which are necessary. One cannot help feeling, however, that they are emphasized at the expense of other important considerations such as genre, the evolution of literary traditions, and the literary relationships between authors, which receive far less attention. In each of his four subperiods Rigg identifies and discusses every major author and work, makes brief mention of many minor authors and their works, and sometimes focuses on anonymous pieces that might otherwise escape our notice. In addition he occasionally puts forward a neglected writer whose work, he believes, deserves greater consideration. On the whole, his study reads much like a handbook or an encyclopedia, and that is one of its chief virtues, since many scholars will use it primarily as a reference work...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1949-0755
Print ISSN
0190-2407
Pages
pp. 254-256
Launched on MUSE
2018-01-03
Open Access
N
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