Academic journal article Medium Aevum

The Myrour of Recluses: A Middle English Translation of 'Speculum Inclusorum'

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

The Myrour of Recluses: A Middle English Translation of 'Speculum Inclusorum'

Article excerpt

The Myrour of Recluse.rs A Middle English Translation of `Speculum Inclusorum', ed. Marta Powell Harley (Madison and Teaneck: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press; London and Toronto: Associated University Presses, 1995). xxxiii + 90 pp. ISBN o-8386-3589-x. L20.00.

Speculum inclusorum, a Latin treatise for male recluses, was composed in England, probably by a Carthusian, in the mid-fourteenth century; the incomplete text of an English translation, adapted for women, survives in a fifteenth-century manuscript, London, British Library, MS Harley z372. The only previous edition of the English version, in a 1933 thesis by Lillian E. Rogers, remains unpublished, so Marta Powell Harley's edition fills a genuine need.

The first problem that faces the editor of a close translation of a Latin source is the purpose of the edition: should it concentrate on the translation qua translation or treat it as a particular version of a work which requires commentary in its own right? Harley does not confront this question direct, and there is some uncertainty of focus in her edition as a result, particularly evident on p. xxi, where Latin author and English translator are silently conflated as `the author'; but in general her editorial approach maintains a successful balance between attention to the work itself and to the translated text. The introduction gives an excellent short account of the relationship of the translation to its Latin source, and of its place in the broader tradition of medieval English prose. …

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