The Medieval Review 13.01.03

Snow, Joseph T. . The Poetry of Alfonso X: An Annotated Critical Bibliography (1278-2010). Research Bibliographies and Checklists: New Series. Rochester, NY: Tamesis, 2012. Pp. xiv, 448. 115. ISBN: 978-1-85566-231-1. . .

Reviewed by:

Connie L. Scarborough
Texas Tech University

This is the long anticipated sequel to Snow's The Poetry of Alfonso X, El Sabio, published by Grant and Cutler in 1977. The updated bibliography adds 1,603 annotated entries to the 1977 volume, bringing the total number of entries to 1,987. In the 2010 bibliography, Snow maintains the chronological scheme of the original 1977 bibliography. He explains his rationale for this arrangement, stating that "it situates our knowledge about Alfonso's poetry on a historical continuum and it permits us to follow the gradual development of a crescendo of interest in the poetry" (viii). Snow's annotations for the books and articles are succinct but thorough. He comments on content, any errors, and specific poems treated. Also, the annotations contain particularly useful cross references to other entries as, for example, when a book or article is written in response to work by another scholar or one or more scholars reach similar conclusions.

The first entry dates from 1278 with a citation attributed to Gil De Zamora who mentions contemporary troubadour's praise of Alfonso's Marian poems and alludes to the king's direct intervention in the texts and music. After this initial entry from one of Alfonso X's contemporaries, the bibliography contains 21 references that date from the fifteenth to the eighteenth centuries. Scholarly interest in Alfonso's poetry significantly increased in the nineteenth century as evidenced by 93 entries. As we would expect, the bibliography catalogues all the major pioneering studies from the early twentieth century, including Higinio Anglés' work on the music of the Cantigas de Santa Maria, José Guerrero Lovillo's work on the miniatures, and Dorothy Clotelle Clarke's studies on versification. There is a notable surge in studies in the second half of the twentieth century and first decade of the twenty-first. Among those who have published most broadly on Alfonsine poetry, the bibliography includes works published by Ana Domínguez Rodríguez, Elvira Fidalgo, Valeria Bertolucci Pizzorusso, Stephen Parkinson, Martha Schaffer, and Snow himself. But it also includes scholars who have published only one or two articles on the topic. Snow includes journal articles, chapters in homenaje volumes, published papers from conference proceedings, monographs, article from electronic journals, and dissertations. In his introduction to the bibliography, Snow particularly notes the growing scholarly interest in the artistic and musical components of the Cantigas de Santa Maria. Another trend that he observes in the most recent entries is increased interest in Alfonso X's secular poetry. Since there is no one standard edition for the Cantigas profanes as there is for the Cantigas de Santa Maria--that of Walter Mettmann--Snow provides a very helpful appendix that organizes the different numbering systems in editions of the secular poetry. To that end, Snow collates the numbering in the Colocci-Brancuti manuscript, the Cancionero da Vaticana, Rodrigues Lapa's edition of the cantigas d'escarnho e de mal dizer, and Travini's 1967 volume, Repertorio metrico della lirica galego-portghese. He also gives the incipit for each of the secular poems for quick recognition. Another useful appendix B, divided into subsection, one for the Cantigas de Santa Maria and another for the Cantigas profanes, lists the poems by number, followed by entry numbers of bibliographic items that contain a references in the title or annotations to a particular poem. With this information, one can quickly identify all references that relate to the study of one or more individual poems. A "General Index" is also provided and classifies information in the titles and annotations of the entries. It is alphabetized and subdivided into three categories identified by bold capitals: Alfonso X, Cantigas de Santa Maria, and Cantigas profanes. There is also an index of authors.

Snow includes articles and other publications written in Spanish, English, French, Italian, German, Portuguese, and Galician. This is especially helpful since one can readily identify the relevance of an article in a language he/she may not read well. Snow's bibliography is essential for scholars of Alfonso X, especially as regards the relevance of hard-to-locate items that may be long of out print or owned by very few libraries worldwide. While Snow admits that no bibliographic project can assume to be exhaustive, he has spent many years locating, compiling and annotating as nearly a complete collection of scholarly work related to Alfonso's poetry as possible. He has consulted materials in libraries in Spain, England, Argentina, and the USA as well as relying on a network of researchers worldwide who facilitated his access to certain items. This bibliography should be a standard reference tool in any research library and in the private library of any serious scholar of the poetry of Alfonso. All who work on Alfonso X's poetry are deeply indebted to Snow for taking on this mammoth project and producing a meticulously detailed bibliography.