Academic journal article Medium Aevum

The 'Romance of the Rose' Illuminated: Manuscripts at the National Library of Wales

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

The 'Romance of the Rose' Illuminated: Manuscripts at the National Library of Wales

Article excerpt

Alcuin Blamires and Gail C. Holian, The 'Romance of the Rose' Illuminated: Manuscripts at the National Library of Wales, Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies 223 (Tempe: Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2002). xxxviii +137 pp. ISBN 0-86698-265-5. $48.00/L42.00.

The National Library of Wales houses seven manuscripts of the Roman de la Rose, five of which are illuminated. This handsome volume provides detailed descriptions of all seven manuscripts along with colour reproductions of all of the miniatures (forty-nine plates in all). An additional sixteen black-and-white plates of miniatures in other manuscripts illustrate the discussion of stylistic and iconographic features. The authors take a suitably cautious approach to the interpretation of the miniatures, recognizing that in some cases artists may have intended to highlight an idiosyncratic reading of the poem, while in others they may simply have reproduced familiar visual models or responded to local cues in the text without concern for the larger context. They acknowledge, however, that whatever the artists' intentions may or may not have been, and whether they had actually read the poem or not, the resulting combination of text and image does work on the reader to foster a particular experience of the poem that may differ considerably from one manuscript to another. …

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