Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Medieval and Renaissance Letter Treatises and Form Letters: A Census of Manuscripts Found in Part of Western Europe, Japan, and the United States of America

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Medieval and Renaissance Letter Treatises and Form Letters: A Census of Manuscripts Found in Part of Western Europe, Japan, and the United States of America

Article excerpt

Emil J. Polak, Medieval and Renaissance Letter Treatises and Form Letters: A Census of Manuscripts found in Part of Western Europe, Japan, and the United States of America (Leiden [etc.]: Brill, I994). xviii + 475 pp.; ISBNs0169-7994; 90-04-09915-8. L60.00.

This is the second part of Polak's comprehensive collection of letter treatises. Volume I (Leiden, 1993) covered Eastern Europe and the former GDR; at least two more volumes, covering Austria, France, Italy and Western Germany, look set to follow. The volume is testimony to immense and careful detective work, clearly laid out, with good bibliographies for each manuscript. Usefully, manuscripts which have been discovered to be irrelevant or spurious are also listed. Polak offers the material as a research tool, noting how much work remains to be done on these texts, and providing a sketch-map of the terrain.

Obviously, it is presumptuous of a reviewer who has not used the book `in the field' to quibble with one or two omissions. And I must declare an interest here, being in the midst of such a census of manuscripts myself. …

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