Academic journal article Medium Aevum

The Lily and the Thistle: The French Tradition and the Older Literatim of Scotland - Essays in Criticism

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

The Lily and the Thistle: The French Tradition and the Older Literatim of Scotland - Essays in Criticism

Article excerpt

William Calin, The Lily and the Thistle: The French Tradition and the Older Literatim of Scotland - Essays in Criticism (Toronto, Buffalo, NY, and London: University of Toronto Press, 2014). x + 415 pp. ISBN 978-1-4426-4665-0. $70.00.

That Older Scots literature must owe something to French writing is accepted largely without challenge; quite what that debt might be has not been synoptically assessed since Janet M. Smith's The French Influence on Middle Scots Literature (1934), although Priscilla Bawcutt and others have elucidated the most likely French influences on individual texts. William Calin's The Lily and the Thistle takes on the challenge of the wider picture, discussing poems from The Kingis Quair (c. 1424) to William Drummond's Forth Feasting (1617), and placing them against possible French comparators, models, and sources. The chronological range alone makes the volume impressive, but together with his consideration of familiar figures such as Henryson and Dunbar, Calin also includes a number of under-studied texts, such as King Hart and John Rolland's Court of Venus. Such a breadth is very welcome, not least as a means of encouraging further work.

However, there are limitations to the volume. Firstly, although wide-ranging, the account is not comprehensive: for instance, Alexander Montgomerie is not considered in the discussion of the court of James VI, and yet the influence of French material in his works is clearer than it is for William Alexander. While a fully comprehensive account would be impossible, more obvious criteria for inclusion would have been helpful, perhaps differentiating those texts which have sources (Lancelot of the Laik) from those which have analogues (Ane Satyre of the Thrie Estaitis). …

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