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Anglo-Saxon England.

MICHAEL LAPIDGE, MALCOLM GODDEN, and SIMON KEYNES (eds), 25. Pp. viii + 341. Cambridge, New York, Oakleigh: Cambridge University Press, 1996. [pounds]65.00 (ISBN 0-521-57147-2)

The latest volume of Anglo-Saxon England marks twenty-five years of the periodical's existence. An index of contents to volumes 1-25 increases its scholarly utility beyond that already ensured by the annual bibliography of publications in Anglo-Saxon studies, and enhanced by the customary five-year index to volumes 21-5. A report of the Seventh Conference of the International Society of Anglo-Saxonists, held at Stanford University (6-12 August 1995) is also included. Twelve articles reflect, as usual, the periodical's commitment to interdisciplinarity. The quarter-century milestone further tempts us to read this volume as a carefully weighted representation of current scholarly concerns among Anglo-Saxonists, within their most prestigious forum.

The contributors all share an eagerness to reopen old questions and review evidence already scrutinized exhaustively. This revisionist thread draws together topics as divergent as Philip Pulsiano's 'The Originality of the Old English Gloss of the Vespasian Psalter and Its Relation to the Gloss of the Junius Psalter', Mark Boynton and Susan Reyolds"The Author of the Fonthill Letter', Richard Gameson's 'The Origin of the Exeter Book of Old English Poetry', and Michael Gorman's 'The Glosses on Bede's De Temporum Ratione Attributed to Byrhtferth of Ramsey'. If past assertions are overturned often to be replaced with doubt and uncertainty, we are none the less, in the concluding words of Gameson, 'as Socrates stressed, a little the wiser for that'.

Through such re-readings new, though-provoking cultural connections are proposed. In 'The Blood of Abel and the Branches of Sin: Genesis A, Maxims I and Aldhelm's Carmen De Uirginitate', Charles D. Wright locates AIdhelm's influence on vernacular poetry within the ramifications of a striking image. Frederick M. Biggs and Thomas N. Hall trace, through Old English prose witnesses, the evolution of apocryphal 'Traditions concerning Jamnes and Mambres in Anglo-Saxon England'. Brigitte Langefeld reassesses the Anglo-Saxon influence of Chrodegang's Rule in 'Regula Canonicorum or Regula Monasterialis Uitae? The Rule of Chrodegang and Archbishop Wulfred's Reforms at Canterbury'. In 'Palaces or Ministers? Northampton and Cheddar Reconsidered', John Blair proposes an ecclesiastic rather than secular function for two Anglo-Saxon halls.

The same impatience with received perceptions informs Edward B. Irving's emotional yet nuanced reading, 'The Advent of Poetry: Christ 1'. His classically New Critical approach to the poem's 'plain secular artistry' offsets not only Wright's source-based methodology, but also Audrey L. Meaney's engaging analysis of an Old English riddle's literal level of meaning, in 'Exeter Book Riddle 57 (55) - a Double Solution?' Through this triad of articles we sample different methods of interpreting Old English poetry, although the fare remains, in this volume at least, stoutly traditional.

Amidst the plethora of reinterpretations and revisions, two articles bring forward new primary evidence from Anglo-Saxon England. R. I. Page adds to the corpus of Old English prose by piecing together a new composite anonymous homily in 'An Old English Fragment from Westminster Abbey'. In 'The Limpfield Grange Disc', Elisabeth Okasha and Susan Youngs discuss a recently discovered gold and niello disc, less than on centimetre in diameter, depicting St John as an eagle. Their informed reading of this diminutive ninth-century artefact and its art historical context makes this article one of the most enjoyable in the collection.

ANANYA J. KABIR Trinity College, Cambridge
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Title Annotation:Review
Author:Kabir, Ananya J.
Publication:Notes and Queries
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Mar 1, 1998
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