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Christianity and Literature 536 Although Franke’s argument is insightful, some of the terms he uses and their relationships to one another are unclear. For example, Franke states that part 1 and part 2 are connected by Dante’s use of theological language to transgress human authority, but he does not provide a clear definition of theological language. In the preface, Franke refers to inner experience as a consequence of his argument about transgression, but at the beginning of part 3, he describes it as, for Bataille and Blanchot, a type of transgression that does not defy any specific authority but rather denies “any positive attempt to establish order” at all (133). Franke does not clarify how inner experience relates to transcendence. Though Franke informs the reader at the beginning that his approach is theoretical and that a more analytical book will follow, I found myself wishing for greater textual analysis. Even Franke admits that his argument about Paradiso is incomplete without this second volume. Despite these shortcomings, Franke’s argument for Dante’s boldness as a poet and a Christian serves as an important contribution to Dante scholarship. In his reading of Paradiso, Franke takes Dante’s insistence of inexpressibility seriously, an insistence that even as insightful a critic as Robert Hollander, whom Franke references, has found tiresome. By joining medieval apophatism and postmodern deconstructionism, Franke shows that the topos of inexpressibility and the understanding of God it entails are integral to Dante’s purpose in the Paradiso. Dante, one of the most cataphatic of poets, ultimately shows that even the most daring linguistic ventures cannot express the utterly transcendent and infinite God. Tiffany Niebuhr Institute of Philosophic Studies, University of Dallas Medieval Autographies: The “I” of the Text. By A. C. Spearing. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 2012. ISBN 0-268-01782-4. Pp. viii + 347. $32.00. In his most recent book, A. C. Spearing essentially argues that in medieval literature the first-person singular possessive pronoun, “I,” is merely grammatical (or, more accurately, deictic). Put another way, he suggests that one should not assume that the narrator of a medieval poem has a persona— particularly of a Jamesian variety. Some readers might be inclined to dismiss this thesis prima facie (especially as presented in the first formulation above). Others may deem it self-evident (especially as presented in the second). Still others may presume that Spearing is more concerned with being interesting than truthful. But when one returns to Spearing’s other work, one realizes that (as Spearing claims) such a thesis has been fermenting in his mind for some time, and it has arguably led him to valuable insights into medieval poetry. 537 Book Reviews Therefore, this is not a book to be set aside; it is, rather, one that merits serious consideration. In the opening sentence of his first chapter, “The Textual First Person,” Spearing asserts that in this book he will discuss “a category of medieval English writing that has not previously been recognized” (1). In the second, he names this category “autography,” explaining that “it consists of extended, non-lyrical, fictional writings in and of the first person” (1). After defining his terms and scope, Spearing briefly discusses how this book relates to another of his books, Textual Subjectivity: The Encoding of Subjectivity in Medieval Narratives and Lyrics (2005). He then explains that the basic argument of that book “underlies the present book” (5) but that, in this book, his focus is not on lyric or narrative, per se, but another genre (or supergenre [1]). Autography, Spearing argues, “began to emerge in French in the thirteenth century but in English not till the fourteenth” (5-6). French scholars, he says, call this supergenre the dit. Admitting that his approach may be a bit circuitous at times, Spearing hopes his reader will accept his invitation to “share in the experiment of seeing texts of a certain kind … as constituting a significant cluster or family, and thus … [interpret] them in a different way” (6). He is quick to warn that he is not “purporting to offer a comprehensive theory” but “only offering an invitation to try out a different kind of reading...


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pp. 536-540
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