Dr. Fritz Kemmler

title.none: Edwards, ed., John Lydgate's Troy Book (Kemmler)

identifier.other: baj9928.9906.013 99.06.13

identifier.issn: 1096-746X

description.statementofresponsibility: Dr. Fritz Kemmler , Universitaet Tuebingen,

publisher.none: .

date.issued: 1999

identifier.citation: Edwards, Robert R., ed. Troy Book: Selections. TEAMS Middle English Texts Series. Kalamazoo: Medieval Institute Publications, 1998. Pp. x, 430. $20.00. ISBN: 1-879-28899-0.

type.none: Review

relation.ispartof: The Medieval Review

The Medieval Review 99.06.13

Edwards, Robert R., ed. Troy Book: Selections. TEAMS Middle English Texts Series. Kalamazoo: Medieval Institute Publications, 1998. Pp. x, 430. $20.00. ISBN: 1-879-28899-0.

Reviewed by:

Dr. Fritz Kemmler
Universitaet Tuebingen

In July last year, John Marlin, reviewing the TEAMS edition of The Poems of Robert Henryson for TMR deplored that "[t]he anthologies exposing most English majors to early literature present little from the [fifteenth] century outside of some anonymous lyrics, some excerpts from Malory, and a few specimens of religious drama. Chaucer's immediate poetic successors -- Hoccleve, Lydgate, Dunbar, [...] Robert Henryson [...] -- are largely ignored. Moreover, many of these poets' works are difficult to find except in out-of-print scholarly editions or in the editions of the Early English and Scottish Text Societies." With the appearance of the TEAMS selections from Lydgate's Troy Book, edited by Robert R. Edwards, substantial portions from one of the major works of the learned Benedictine monk of Bury St. Edmunds are now easily available.

The entire poem, "one of the most ambitious attempts in medieval vernacular poetry to recount the story of the Trojan war" (p. 1), composed between 1412 and 1420 and extending over a total of 30117 lines, consists of a Prologue, Books I to V, and an Envoy.

In Edwards' new edition, consisting of "Preface" (pp. ix-x) "Introduction" (pp. 1-25), including "Select Bibliography" (pp. 17-25) "Envoy" (pp. 335-338) "Notes" (pp. 339-428) "Glossary" (pp. 429-430); with only 103 entries - some with double, treble and even quadruple glosses [cf. "wer(r)e"] - the glossary is totally inadequate, considering Lydgate's generally difficult lexicon the "Prologue" (384 lines; pp. 27-36) and the "Envoy" (pp. 335-338; 107 lines divided into thirteen rhymed royal stanzas; and two eight-line stanzas) are printed in full.

Book I, pp. 28-86 (4436 ll.; Expedition of the Argonauts) is represented by lines 0001-0249: King Peleus of Thessaly 0723-1196: Jason lands near Troy 1823-2147: Jason and Medea 2813-2986: Jason and Medea 3201-3430: Jason and the Golden Fleece 4020-4436 (end): Peleus and Lamedon Book II, pp. 87-145 (8706 ll.: Events leading to the Trojan War) is represented by lines 0001-0006 0134-0202: Remarks on Guido 0479-1066: Priam builds New Troy 1797-1902: Priam contemplating Antenor's message 2183-2809: Hector's and Paris's speeches 3435-3749: Paris and Helen 4337-4427: Agamemnon comforts Menelaus 4677-4762: Lydgate's praise of Chaucer 4861-4895: Description of Troilus 6517-6719: Agamemnon's speech 8703-8706 (end) Book III, pp. 146-217 (5764 ll.: The Siege of Troy) is represented by lines 0001-0036 0536-0620: Agamemnon arranges the Greeks 0744-0899: Fight between Hector and Patroclus 0976-1105: Troilus captured and freed 1889-2157: Hector's deeds and fatal mistake 2238-2318: Cassandra's warning 2667-2744: Plan to kill Hector 3103-3254: Priam's advice to kill King Thoas 3664-4448: Cressid exchanged for Antenor; Meeting of Achilles and Hector; Troilus's sorrow for Cressid; Remarks on Chaucer's Troilus; Guido's rebuke of Troilus 4820-4869: Diomedes longs for Cressid's love 4889-5764 (end): Hector and Andromeda; Hector's death and burial Book IV, pp. 218-300 (7108 ll.: The Siege and Capture of Troy) is represented by lines 0001-0008 0153-0323: Agamemnon and Palamides 0551-1222: Achilles and Polyxena 2029-2177: Troilus's battles; Cressid and Diomede 2647-2855: Achilles kills Troilus 3098-3235: Paris kills Achilles 3758-3973: The Amazons (Penthesilea) 4281-4439: Penthesilea killed by Pyrrhus 5099-5314: Antenor sues for peace 5552-5832: Antenor sues for peace 6021-6214: The Trojan Horse 6276-6559: The destruction of Troy 6731-7108 (end): Pyrrhus kills Polyxena; Hecuba goes mad; Lydgate moralizes on the Fate of Troy Book V, pp. 301-334 (3612 ll.: The Fate of the Surviving Greeks and Trojans) is represented by lines 0001-0044 1781-2314: Menelaus and Orestes; Orestes weds Hermione; The Adventures of Ulysses 2937-3612 (end): Ulysses's dream, death, and burial Lydgate's remarks on his work Prose summaries are provided for the sections omitted in Books I to V.

The base manuscript used by Edwards for his new edition is BL MS Cotton Augustus A. iv. (one of the four early manuscripts). Reading the text printed on the large format pages used in the series is a somewhat trying job; it would have been helpful indeed had Edwards supplied the descriptive headlines added in one of the later manuscripts (BL MS Royal 18. D. ii.) and printed in Henry Bergen's full edition of Lydgate's Troy Book for the Early English Text Society (EETS, E.S. 97, 103, 106 [text] and 126 [commentary and glossary]).

Some random checks of Edwards' text against that printed in Bergen's full edition showed that the text of the new edition is highly accurate and reliable. Deviations from Bergen's readings of the manuscripts as well as emendations of the readings in the base manuscript are meticulously recorded in the "Notes."

While I have no objections to Edwards' selections from Troy Book, I do have problems with some of the marginal glosses; e.g.

Prologue, 4: the god armypotent = "omnipotent" (better: mighty in arms).

Prologue, 26, 42: byyownd Cirrea = "beyond Cirra (near Delphi)" In Cirrea = "Syria" (recte: Cirr(h)a, a seaport near Delphi)

Bk. IV,6969-6970: Nysus and Cirra = without gloss! beside Cirrea = without gloss!

Prologue, 197: tho dawes = "those days"

Bk. I,9: tho dawes = "those" ("days" omitted) "dawes" (n.) with only one occurrence in the Canterbury Tales, V.1180, should have been included in the glossary.

In addition, I have noted a few inconsistencies and errors in the "Notes", e. g.:

ad Prologue, 377 (p. 347): text: "Of hym for whom I have undertake" note: "whom. Lydgate uses this syntactic device [which device?] again at 2.1038, 3.3829, and 5.1916." This note should be ad Prol., 375, Whom; the "syntactic device" is an oblique case pronoun ("demonstrative/relative") functioning as the direct object and positioned at the beginning (emphasis!) of a new sentence.

ad I,3217 (p. 357): text: "He schope him forthe and wente a knyghtly pas" note: "Lydgate breaks the syntax of this sentence by inserting He as the subject of schope." If him is taken as a reflexive pronoun, there is no break "in the syntax of this sentence."

ad II,861 (p. 368): text: "Of tragedies, as bokis make mynde;" note: "Against Bergen [who used a comma], I punctuate with a full stop [sic!] here because line 862 begins another independent clause."

ad II,924 (p. 369): text: "And thus the ryyt of tragedies olde" note: "ryht [recte: ryyt] of tragedies olde. The of is Bergen's addition."

The section "Notes", in general, is a somewhat uneven mixture of (sometimes rather long) explanatory and (usually short) textual notes, especially in the longish sections on pp. 342-342 (recording the addition of final "-e to regularize the meter of Lydgate's verse") and on pp. 344-345 (addition of medial vowels and inflectional endings). Both undergraduate readers and the general reader with an interest in English medieval literature, I think, would profit from a separate section with only textual notes.

Summing up: this new edition of substantial portions from Lydgate's Troy Book can be used as a highly reliable course book (in both undergraduate and graduate classes) and can also be recommended to general readers with an interest in the "Matter of Troy" (with many moralizations and digressions on the subject) and in fifteenth-century English narrative verse.