Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Anglo-Norman Verse Prophecies of Merlin

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Anglo-Norman Verse Prophecies of Merlin

Article excerpt

Anglo-Norman Verse Prophecies of Merlin, ed. and trans. Jean Blacker (Dallas: Scriptorium Press, 2005). i + 1 25 pp. ISBN 0-965- 18772- 1. $1 2.00. The relatively large number of Old French prophecy texts - virtually all translations - dating from the twelfth and thirteenth centuries are a witness to the importance of the genre. All the more surprising, then, that the two twelfth-century Anglo-Norman versions or translations of the Prophetia Merlin have never before been edited in their entirety. Jean Blacker has done a good job of editing the texts, picking her way through strange vocabulary and sometimes fractured syntax with her customary competence; even her English translation makes as much sense as could be hoped for from a somewhat bisarre Old French original. The selective glossary is good although, as always seems to happen, one is left wondering why some words (e.g. beneit, Tales sed'; fust, 'wood'; maçon, 'mason') are included; the bibliography is up to date. The edition's introduction covers the historical context, the manuscript tradition, and -perhaps the most difficult part - the Prophetia Merlini as a work of literature; it is perhaps significant that Blacker hardly deals with the Anglo-Norman versions in literary terms, and as the layout of the book positively militates against direct comparison either between the two versions or between them and the Latin original (which is not provided), arguably one of the most interesting angles of approach is left virtually untouched. …

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