Raluca Radulescu

title.none: Wiggins, ed., Stanzaic Guy of Warwick (Raluca Radulescu)

identifier.other: baj9928.0701.016 07.01.16

identifier.issn: 1096-746X

description.statementofresponsibility: Raluca Radulescu, University of Bangor,

publisher.none: .

date.issued: 2007

identifier.citation: Wiggins, Alison, ed. Stanzaic Guy of Warwick. Series: TEAMS Middle English Texts Series. Kalamazoo: Medieval Institute Publications, 2004. Pp. vii, 168. ISBN: 16.00 (pb) 1-58044-088-6.

type.none: Review

relation.ispartof: The Medieval Review

The Medieval Review 07.01.16

Wiggins, Alison, ed. Stanzaic Guy of Warwick. Series: TEAMS Middle English Texts Series. Kalamazoo: Medieval Institute Publications, 2004. Pp. vii, 168. ISBN: 16.00 (pb) 1-58044-088-6.

Reviewed by:

Raluca Radulescu
University of Bangor

Stanzaic Guy of Warwick is part of the TEAMS Middle English Text Series published by the Medieval Institute Publications at Western Michigan University, a series of editions designed for teaching purposes. Wiggins's edition provides a welcome addition to the series, ensuring the availability of a text likely to be more widely used in undergraduate and postgraduate teaching than before.

The Middle English Stanzaic Guy of Warwick (c. 1300) survives in only one copy, now commonly known among specialists as the Auchinleck Manuscript (National Library of Scotland Advocates' Manuscript 19.2.1). The text in Middle English represents only a third of the much longer Anglo-Norman Gui de Warewic (composed in England around 1220). Together with a couplet version of the early years of Guy's life, and the romance Reinbroun, which talks about Guy's son, the Stanzaic Guy forms a complete Middle English version of the legendary figure. The placing of the three romances in the Auchinleck Manuscript has been interpreted by scholars such as Carol Fewster and Laura Hibbard to be intentional, a fact justified by the thematic correlation between the three, as well as circumstances of book production. Wiggins points out that recent scholarship has shown that the Stanzaic Guy was "originally composed and intended to be read as an independent romance" (5), an assertion based on a number of factors, ranging from an analysis of its language (different from the couplet Guy), stanza patterning, and thematic similarities with other romances, all of which she discusses in some detail.

The Introduction to this edition is divided into several sections, which deal, in turn, with a summary of the story, manuscript, language and literary relations, and pilgrimage. The most interesting section is the last, focusing on pilgrimage, and the presentation of various debates around the identity of the knight-pilgrim. As Wiggins points out, the pattern of exile-and-return encountered in Guy of Warwick closely mirrors that of The Life of Saint Alexis, with which it is associated, and whose hero similarly leaves his new wife for a life of pilgrimage to the Holy Land (8). However, despite similarities with popular romances like Sir Isumbras, Sir Gowther, and Robert of Cisyle, the Stanzaic Guy is unique in its protagonist's choice never to return to secular life after his extended pilgrimage. Moreover, Wiggins analyses how Guy's travels are associated with the allegorical understanding of life as a pilgrimage, while the obstacles he encounters are clearly intended to signify the contrast between good and evil. The parallels between the physical, moral and interior pilgrimages are further discussed (pp. 9- 10) in relation to the main character's development in all areas of life, from his initial intention to go to the Holy Land and subsequent desire to travel as far as Greece and Constantinople, to his crusading role, presented against a background of increased interest in the cause of Christian pilgrims to the Holy Land, and finally his higher understanding of pilgrimage and its role in human devotion. There is a further correlation between the length of the journeys undertaken towards the end of the story and Guy's approach to spiritual understanding; in Wiggins' words, this link is evident in "the shift in Guy's role from one who causes to one who cures wandering"--as is the case with his helping Jonas and Tirri to recuperate their previous secular roles and therefore social stability (10).

Wiggins's edition of the rich text of Guy of Warwick is also accompanied by comprehensive endnotes, a glossary, and numerous glosses; to this extent the edition fulfils its purpose, that of offering students and teachers alike a user-friendly text. Particularly useful endnotes contain discussions of the popular romance context (accompanying lines 20, 190-210, 1081-1119, to give just a few examples among many), points of language, and romance conventions generally. Some glossing and endnotes would benefit from supplementary explanations and highlighting, given that the edition is for student use. One would want to see more endnotes illuminating particularly significant passages or difficult ones; however it is very likely this is due to constraints imposed by the format of the series.

The edition brings together not only the text and useful auxiliary tools for its teaching, but also fresh insights into possible avenues for further study, ranging from the role of the knight in returning the community's attention to religious values, to the narrative of travel in the context of romance, to other areas, which will no doubt inspire both teachers and students of Middle English romance.