Academic journal article Medium Aevum

The St. Albans Psalter: An Anglo-Saxon Song of Faith

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

The St. Albans Psalter: An Anglo-Saxon Song of Faith

Article excerpt

Kristinc Hancy, The Si. Albans Psalter: An Anglo-Saxon Song of faith, Studies in the Humanities: Literature-Politics-Society 60 (New York: Peter Lang Publishing, 2002). 704 pp. ISBN 0-8204-57205. $79.95.

This book sets out primarily to provide a new interpretation of the unique series of historiated initials in the twelfth-century English 'St Albans Psalter', founded, regrettably, on a series of false premisses. One of these is that the iconography of the initials derives from imagery in the ninth-century Utrecht Psalter, which is known to have been at Canterbury when the St Albans Psalter was made, and that this can be taken to demonstrate the 'Canterbury manufacture' (p. 349) and 'design' of the latter. But in no case is it persuasively argued that imagery in the later book is derived from the earlier, rather than (more logically and self-evidently) from the words of the psalms, and from visual motifs available outside Canterbury: the comparisons offered arc unconvincing.

Having persuaded herself, by this and other equally questionable means, of a Canterbury genesis, it proves irresistible to the author to interpret the imagery of the psalm initials as directly influenced by St Anselm (d. …

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