Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Essays on Richadian Literature: In Honour of John Burrow

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Essays on Richadian Literature: In Honour of John Burrow

Article excerpt

Essays on Ricardian Literature: In Honour of John Burrow, ed. A. J. Minnis, Charlotte C. Morse, and Thorlac Turville-Petre (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997). xv + 358 pp. ISBN 0-19--8182821. L45.00.

This important collection of essays written in homage to J. A. Burrow is to be recommended as a survey of state-of-the-art studies in the literary production of late medieval England. It is striking to notice the range in areas of expertise cultivated by his students and colleagues; geographically, too, they hail from Ireland, North America, and all over England. The exceptionally high quality of the scholarship and judgement in the essays is a tribute indeed.

My advice to the reader is to draw upon the essays as they are needed, but to turn to the last essay by Charlotte Morse first. It is a judicious assessment of the fate of Burrow's 1971 argument for a `Ricardian poetry', but it is also a frank, well-informed intellectual history of the field. Morse's essay generates substantial authority, successfully mutes the volume of some of the (merely) louder voices of the past thirty years, and invites us to look at scholarship in the context of our shifting landscape of professional institutions. One wishes she would continue this thoughtful work in yearly instalments.

The other essays are arranged in groups: Chaucer (Spearing, Pearsall, Meale, Havely), cultural and linguistic environment (Butterfield, Rigg), comparatist surveys on topics (Minnis on nominalism, Green on legal 'trouthe', Jacobs on romance), Usk (Medcalf), and the Pearl-poet (Morgan, Turville-Petre, Scattergood). Among many excellent scholarly efforts, two in particular are noteworthy. By means of exact observations on the `unstable first person' (p. …

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