Charles d'Orléans in England (1415–1440). Edited by M. J. Arn. Cambridge, D. S. Brewer, 2000. x + 231 pp.
This anthology of twelve essays treats the political manoeuvres into which Charles was drawn, social relationships (especially with his keepers), manuscripts he saw or may have seen, others in which his poems appear, some of the main characteristics of that poetry, and its reception. Arn's introduction astutely surveys the skilfully arranged contents and also offers valuable suggestions for further research. Her concluding bibliography (the only section not focused on Charles's years in England) completes and updates Nelson's 1990 bibliography, Jones opens with a compellingly new assessment of the reasons for Charles's long captivity. Askins breaks new ground in his study of manuscripts which were, or may have been, available to Charles and his captive brother in the cultural circles of their keepers. Ouy extends our knowledge of the brothers' religious and philosophical studies, and in particular their interest in Gerson. Arn's analysis of two anthologies which the Duke had made, the one in French, the other in English, reveals much about his way of thinking about his poetry. Galderisi writes sensitively about poetic time and the ultimate effects, especially in the rondeaux, of the tensions between the Duke's native French and his competence in English. Fox offers a rich four-part essay of which the first part, an interpretation of the foreign and strange words in three macaronic rondeaux is especially convincing and entertaining. Cholakian's careful exploration of the poetry finds no significant change in its introspective nature after 1440. Spearing's examination of The Kingis Quair and Charles's poems in MS Harley 682 brings out the more playful and artificial modes of the Duke's poetry. With many an illuminating observation on it, Pearsall shifts discussion about the attribution of poetry to Suffolk to the poetry in question. Backhouse's succinct description of BL, Royal MS 16 F ii links each of three full-page miniatures to a specific poem, and the manuscript to Calais. Muhlethaler magisterially demonstrates how the allegorical mode sometimes combines with, sometimes conflicts with, the autobiographical elements, and how the Verard 1509 edition favours the allegorical over the autobiographical. Coldiron concludes with a fascinating history of the reception of Charles's English poetry in the English-speaking world. So rich in its diversity and originality, researchers into Charles d'Orléans will find this a most valuable tool and point of reference.
University of Glasgow Kenneth Varty
French Studies, 56 (2002), 83–84.