Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Writing the Future: Lazamon's Prophetic History

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Writing the Future: Lazamon's Prophetic History

Article excerpt

Kelley M. Wickham-Crowley, Writing the Future: Lazamon's Prophetic History (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 2002). x + 182 pp. ISBN 0-7083-1714-6. £37.50.

In Writing the Future: Lazamon's Prophetic History, Kelley M. Wickham-Crowley urges us to recognize the Brut as an innovative and revolutionary text, and seeks to invigorate Lazamon studies through the incorporation of Bakhtinian theories of dialogue and the novel form. Wickham-Crowley's introduction makes bold and ambitious assertions about the scope of the study and its interrogation of concepts which include the interrelationships of orality and literacy in Lazamon's work, the recurrent question of Lazamon's 'ambivalence' or 'fatalism', and the emphasis on truth and individual responsibility in the Brut. Most importantly Wickham-Crowlcy tells us that Writing the Future will focus on the ways Lazamon draws his audience into his text and on his uses of dialogue and prophecy to connect past and future through the experience of the individual reader. These are indeed exciting areas for re-examination and exploration, but Wickham-Crowley's initial claims do not always seem adequately or convincingly supported in the main body of the study.

Much of the content of Writing the Future seems to be a development or expansion of Wickham-Crowley's earlier article Lazamon's narrative innovations and Bakhtin's theories' in the 1994 volume on Lazamon edited by Francoise Le Saux (The Text and Tradition of Lazamon's 'Brut' (Cambridge, 1994), pp. 207-26). A reading of Lazamon based on Bakhtinian theory certainly has potential beyond the scope of this short article, and Writing the Future allows Wickham-Crowley the opportunity to explore and support her arguments more fully. However, Writing the Future remains a very short monograph, and perhaps fails to do justice to its broad subject matter.

Certainly, Writing the Future contains much which is challenging and refreshing. Wickham-Crowley rejects readings of Lazamon as 'ambivalent' in his attitudes to the diverse peoples of his narrative, his literary heritage, and his own historical context and identity. As she notes, this is reductive of Lazamon's achievement in producing a unifying history, and crucially overlooks the consistent and unifying moral framework through which Lazamon views disparate peoples and episodes. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.