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REVIEWS Bailly, who interrupted the Monk's tragedies because they were not well told, would probably have found the Troilus "to be well told" (p. 141). These issues are mentioned here simply to indicate the outer limits ofKelly's study, which is not to be faulted for its avoidance ofproblems clearly excluded by his introduction. The book gives its readers every­ thing its author promises, and because Kelly, as usual, remains a per­ fectionist, it represents a very rewarding and satisfying contribution to the scholarship on an important aspect of Chaucer studies. We can be very grateful for the years of thought and research that Kelly has de­ voted to the study of tragedy and to the production of this volume on Chaucerian tragedy. NOEL HAROLD KAYLOR, JR. University of Northern Iowa BuRT KIMMELMAN. The Poetics ofAuthorship in the Later Middle Ages: The Emergence of the Modern Literary Persona. Studies in the Humanities, vol. 21. New York: Peter Lang, 1996. Pp. 288. $49.95. In this ambitious and often insightful study, Burt Kimmelman has an enormous field to plow. His project is twofold, as indicated in the title; his argument, however, has many strands. His main aim is to show how through autocitations the twelfth-century troubadour Marcabru, Dante, Chaucer, and Langland inscribed themselves, not merely a con­ ventional poetic voice, into their poems. Autocitations, also referred to as "the art of fictional self-inclusion" (p. 2), take various forms, includ­ ing self-references; explicit naming; conventional, fictionalized versions of the author; and, most important for Kimmelman, discussions by a poem's narrator about the nature of poetry (p. 3). The autocitations shared by the authors above are each poet's attempt to grapple with con­ temporary theories oflanguage and knowledge and to contribute to the poetic and philosophic tradition to which each is indebted. Identifying the important philosophical and theological ideas and the develop­ ments in rhetoric and grammar that shaped how poets conceived of their poetry, Kimmelman discusses each poet in relation to the princi­ pal thinkers who influenced him: Marcabru's poetry is discussed in relation to the ideas of Augustine and Anselm, Dante's to those of 283 STUDIES IN THE AGE OF CHAUCER Augustine and Thomas Aquinas, and both Chaucer's and Langland's to those of Ockham and other nominalists. Kimmelman's second aim is to push back to the twelfth century and to detect in the authorship tropes of each of these poets the beginning of modern self-consciousness, and even postmodernism: "Ironically, perhaps, it has taken the urgency and vocabulary of a post-structuralist critique to reveal the very seeds of its epistemological approach in the philosophy of the Middle Ages" (p. 21). Kimmelman frequently insists on the autonomy of language and poetry from language users and the world the poem may only seem to be invoking. He finds Anselm to be the forerunner of postmodernism in Anselm's recognition of "the sepa­ rateness of language"; that is, the ability of "statements" to "have a 'nat­ ural' cogency despite their lack of objective reference" (p. 6). Anselm's ideas about referential and grammatical truth have different functions in Kimmelman's argument, figuring most directly in his discussion of the poems of Marcabru and Guillem IX. But Kimmelman returns to Anselm in each of his chapters, seeing his contributions as "the ground of individual poetic identity" (p. 6). The first two chapters, "Introduction: Alterity and History" and "Chapter One: Text and Word, History and Fiction," establish the two main critical frameworks that will guide Kimmelman's study: 1) a syn­ thesis of traditional and postmodernist approaches to literature and 2) important developments in medieval language theory, rhetoric, and grammar. While never leaving these discussions behind and also fre­ quently comparing the four different poets, the remaining three chap­ ters focus on poems by Marcabru ("Chapter Two: The Poetics of the 'I"'), Dante ("Chapter Three: The Poet as Text, the Text as Name"), and Chaucer and Langland ("Chapter Four: Poetic Voice, Poetic Text, Thematics and the Individual"). The book also includes an afterword and three brief appendices that examine three different tropes. Kimmelman is most persuasive and insightful when he is doing close textual...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1949-0755
Print ISSN
0190-2407
Pages
pp. 283-288
Launched on MUSE
2018-01-03
Open Access
No
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