Historical & Editorial Studies in Medieval & Early Modern English for Johan Gerritsen, ed. Mary-Jo Arn and Hanneke Wirtjes with Hans Jansen (Groningen: Wolters-Noordhoff, 1985)

This Festschrift was presented to Professor Gerritsen in 1985 on the occasion of his sixty-fifth birthday and his retirement from the Chair of English Language and Medieval English Literature at the University of Groningen, which he held for over twenty years. Assembled as a tribute to a distinguished philologist and teacher, the volume is made up of fifteen essays written by well-known scholars and friends, both Dutch and foreign, on themes near to Gerritsen's major interests. A mixed bag, therefore, as is in the nature of such volumes, and this at once raises the editorial problem in what order to print the items, whether alphabetically by authors' names, chronologically, thematically, or otherwise. But in the present case sheer good luck has come to the editors' assistance. By arranging the papers in reverse alphabetical order of their authors' names they elegantly managed to give pride of place to the token contribution by Professor R. W. Zandvoort, Gerritsen's predecessor in the Chair and doyen of English studies in the Netherlands, while modestly relegating Mary-Jo Arn's (one of the editors) contribution to the last place.

As everybody knows, Festschriften are notoriously tricky works to review. For one thing the reviewer cannot be expected to be at home in all the subjects of each individual item, so that he can hardly do more than briefly characterize them.

Ranging in time from the late thirteenth to the mid-seventeenth century and occasionally beyond, the papers collected here neatly reflect Gerritsen's dual interests: about half of them deal with linguistic matters, the other half are devoted to literature. To begin with the linguistic papers, Gillis Kristensson is the author of a richly documented article on 'OE [long and short] eo in the West Midlands in Late Middle English'. His study is based on the onomastic material in the Lay Subsidy Rolls of the late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries. In a short note entitled 'Some Features of Syntax in Middle English Main Clauses' Tauno F. Mustanoja concentrates on two particular uses of word-order in a number of Middle English texts, viz. The repetition of the subject and the placing of the infinitive and its object in main clauses. Wolf-Dietrich Bald's paper, 'On the Diachrony of English Linking Verbs', is not a complete study of the subject, but a comparison of the distribution of linking and non-linking constructions of verbs like go, run, turn in Modern and Middle English, especially Chaucer. (By 'linking' the author understands constructions in which the verb-form is used as a copula with the meaning 'change of state'.) Focusing on the treatment of case by Bullokar, Hume, Gill, Butler, Ben Jonson, and other early English grammarians, John Algeo, in 'The Earliest English Grammars', convincingly argues that the chief reason for the early English grammarians' adherence to the patterns of Latin was 'to provide a grammatical description of English that was consonant with the inherited description of Latin, as an aid for English students studying Latin or for educated foreigners learning English'. N. E. Osselton addresses himself to the problem of 'Spelling-Book Rules and the Capitalization of Nouns in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries'. From his analysis of spelling books, grammars, and other manuals on the writing of English, and of specimens of informative prose of the time, it appears that capitals were not only used to indicate word-prominence in context, but also to indicate the general character of particular word categories. W. F. H. Nicolaisen's study, 'Nomen, Noun, and Name: The Lexical Horns of an Onomastic Dilemma', provides a salutary reminder of the need to prune down what he calls 'the labyrinthine terminology' of proper and common names, proper and common nouns, ordinary nouns, substantives, appellatives, and name-words. I have no fault to find with Rene Derolez's 'Queries and Questions', a brief exploration of the words query/question and their analogues as question-marking devices in English, Old Irish, and Flemish. But why does he use that execrable hybrid festschriftee?

Most of the remaining essays have specifically to do with English literature. First in order of time comes Willi Erzgraber's 'Problems of Oral and Written Transmission as Reflected in Chaucer's House of Fame', in which he treats freshly of the poet's critical scepticism of all oral and literary tradition. Next comes Derek Pearsall's 'Middle English Romance and its Audiences', which duly stresses the complexity of the existing evidence, and the difficulties of interpreting it. 'Two Recipes from a Nijmegen Manuscript' by Gerrit Bunt contains the carefully edited text of two recipes for deafness, written in a Tudor secretary hand and preserved in the library of the University of Nijmegen. One of the longest essays in the book, 'Unconformities in The Merchant of Venice', is by Kristian Smidt, who comments on the contradictions and inconsistencies which critics have discovered in this play, such as the nature of Antonio's and Bassanio's friendship, the rivalry between Antonio and Portia for Bassanio's love, the discrepancy between Belmont time and Venice time, and the function of Launcelot. Hans H. Meier's study, 'Love, Law, and Lucre: Images in Rutherfurd's Letters', offers a penetrating analysis of the complex of erotic, legal, and commercial imagery in the work of this seventeenth-century Scottish divine. Comparing Rutherfurd's Letters with the same writer's Ane catachisme, he finds that the distribution of these images is remarkably similar. One of the most original, and also one of the liveliest articles here is T. A. Birrell's 'The Influence of Seventeenth-Century Publishers on the Presentation of English Literature'. By 'presentation' the author means the publisher's role in giving a certain identity to a book by, say, presenting a collection of poetry as a prayer-book (as happened to Herbert's The Temple), a play as an ephemeral pamphlet or chapbook (Q3 of King Lear), by making a work the lead item in a collection of old and new material (Dryden's Macflecknoe), or by transforming a political pamphlet to a bijou gift-book by way of Ana (Selden's Table Talk).

Two fascinating but technical articles remain to be noticed. Johan Gerritsen the textual bibliographer is specially honoured in the contribution of Fredson Bowers entitled 'Notes on Editorial Apparatus', in which he explains in detail that the textual apparatus essential to a critical scholarly edition consists of two major parts, viz. 'The listing of Editorial Emendation of the copy-text both in substantives and in accidentals', and of the Historical Collation, i.e. 'A listing of the readings that have been rejected by the editor and so do not appear in his established text'. Of particular interest to all editors of early manuscript texts is Mary-Jo Arn's 'The Systematic Representation of Early Manuscripts in Computer Form: A Proposal', in which she discusses the advantages of having computer-diplomatic texts of early English literary works, the problems facing the editor using this system, and their solution. She concludes that in The Netherlands and elsewhere a collection of such texts could be of value to scholars in a number of fields.

It remains to congratulate all concerned for the attractive appearance of a book which must have made great demands on the printer. The editing is impeccably done, and it is matched by the book's handsome format. And what is uncommon in these days of trashy academic publishing: the volume is hardbound, and the text is set in beautifully clear type. I spotted only four misprints, all of them in the second half of the book. Altogether the general level of excellence of the papers collected in this Festschrift and the way they have been packaged are a worthy tribute to the high quality and wide-ranging scholarship of the honorand's work. The only thing I regret is that there is no bibliography of his writings.

J. G. Riewald, Haren (Gr.), Netherlands

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