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Poemetti misogini antico-francesi, vol. 1, Le blasme des fames.

Mario Pagani, Universita di Catania, Quaderni del Siculorum Gymnasium, 19 (Catania: Universita di Catania, 1990). ix + 2.36 pp. No price given.

Mario Pagani has chosen, as the first of a corpus of short misogynistic poems, a text extant in eight manuscripts, of which seven were wholly or partly published by 1886. After an interval of a century (broken only by an unpublished dissertation) we now have two new editions, for Pagani was anticipated by Gloria K. Fiero, Wendy Pfeffer and Mathe Allain in their Three Medieval Views of Women (New Haven; London: Yale University Press, 1989). Both the mediaeval popularity of the text and its modern neglect may be attributed to its theme. Pagani is at pains to bring it back into the light by providing a scholarly edition and by arguing for its interest. In every aspect of his work he has been extremely thorough.

The Introduction runs to 110 pages, of which 80 are devoted to the manuscripts and their relationships, illustrated by tables of concordances. The editor concludes that there are two families, [alpha] (continental and |quiescente) and [beta] (insular and |attiva). There follow 26 pages on the text's literary connections, both with later works and with exempla and the bestiary.

The presentation of the text is twofold. A critical edition, based on MS A (Paris, Bibliotheque nationale, MS f. fr. 837), with full critical apparatus and notes, is followed by a synoptic diplomatic edition of aU the manuscripts. The problem of differing line-order is resolved by repeating verses from each manuscript at the place in which they occur in others. Finally there is a full glossary with complete line references, and a lengthy bibliography; in this (as in the notes) proofreading of languages other than Italian has been imperfect.

The diplomatic transcription of MS A cannot be faulted for accuracy of reading. There is inconsistency in the treatment of abbreviations: |.s.' is resolved in line 70 (as |.Saint.) but not in line 91; |.f.' (|fame') is resolved throughout; numerals are left unresolved. Capitalization, too, is inconsistent: |salemon' (line 73), |Sansses' (line 77), where the manuscript has lower case both times. The use of capitals to begin lines is editorial. Conventional word boundaries are indicated (incorrectly in line 80, |qui'l' for |qu'il'). The critical edition faithfully indicates, by italicization and variants, all divergences from the reading of A (but the italics run on too far in line 81, and |XIII.' In line 57 is wrongly capitalized; cf. line 19). Choice of reading is minutely justified in the notes.

In short, this is an exhaustive edition, and leaves the reader with a feeling of overload. The Introduction raises expectations about the scope and significance of the poem which the slightness of the latter (90 lines in the critical edition) disappoints. The variants are redundant given the synoptic texts; had Pagani either combined the two editions (like Rychner) or omitted the variants (like the Nouveau recueil complet des fabliaux), concision would have benefited. The detailed examination of the text's literary context is interesting, but of equal interest would have been some discussion of its social context. In short, the strengths of this edition are its weaknesses: it is a worthwhile enterprise meticulously carried out, whose completeness makes it a useful basis for further research, but which overshoots the mark for the general mediaevalist.
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Author:Cobby, A.E.
Publication:Medium Aevum
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Mar 22, 1993
Words:555
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