Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Le Jeu d'Adam

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Le Jeu d'Adam

Article excerpt

Le Jeu d'Adam, ed. Wolfgang van Emden, British Rencesvals Publications i (Edinburgh: Societe Rencesvals British Branch, I996). xix + 83 pp. ISBN -9 5 19791-2-4. No price given.

Wolfgang van Emden's new edition of the Anglo-Norman Adam play is particularly welcome since the previous edition by Noomen is now out of print. Intended especially for students, the volume also includes a facing translation, closely following the French original and based on a performance text used frequently by van Emden over a number of years. With so much potentially in its favour, it seems a pity, however, that van Emden should choose (especially in a printed text) not to translate the Latin prophecies, in order to place the modern audience `in the same position as the listeners of the twelfth century' (p. x), whose knowledge of Latin, especially of such wellknown quotations, would surely be greater than he suggests. At the same time he deliberately introduces archaisms such as 'tillage' (in a stage direction moreover), because the play is so medieval it must not be in modern idiomatic English for aesthetic reasons (p. x)! This might be justifiable in performance but is rather unhelpful in a student text. Instead of all the talk about modern audiences, it would have been useful to have some indication given of who might have been the actors and the audience for this play in the twelfth century. The opening paragraph of the introduction claims that Adam is the `first extant European play to be written almost wholly in the vernacular' - yet the twelfth-century Castilian Auto de los reyes magor dates from the same period, is wholly in vernacular, and is also a dramatic masterpiece. …

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