Tuesday, July 08, 2008

TLS, July 4, 2007

from Seth Lerer's review of Alastair Minnis's Fallible Authors: Chaucer's Pardoner and Wife of Bath:

From the so-called "academic prologues" to canonical Latin texts, Minnis recovered a critical idiom that could explain the nature of authorial intention, the quality of reader response, and the relations of form and rhetoric that would inform not just the reading of classical and religious writers, but the writing of imaginative, vernacular fiction. Compilatio and ordinatio were the governing prinicples of literary structure: the first, an activity of reading, bringing source materials and previous authorities together; the second, an act of writing, organizing this material into structures that would give voice to an argument. 

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from Then and Now, a 1922 review of Isaac Rosenberg's poems by Ernest de Selincourt:

His definition of "simple poetry," in a letter to Mr. Gordon Bottomley, is itself an indication of the difficulty of his approach to it: "simple poetry--that is, where an interesting complexity of thought is kept in tone and right value to the dominating idea so that it is understandable and still ungraspable. . . ."

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from Richard P. Novick's review of Cynthia Fox's Cell of Cells: The global race to capture and control the stem cell:

It is interesting that religions are far from unified on "ensoulment". According to Thomas Aquinas (following Aristotle and St. Augustine), ensoulment of males occurs at forty days and of females at ninety days. Many modern Catholic theologians would allow research before the development of the "primitive streak" (the brain primordium) at fourteen days. Jewish views hold that hES [human embryonic stem] cell research entails no moral issue since genetic (ie, embryonic) materials are not even part of a human being until implanted in a womb. Islamic views generally place ensoulment at the 120th day and hold that a very early embryo has no moral status. And some US Protestant denominations have expressed support for embryonic stem-cell research, including the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church and the United Church of Christ.

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from Frances Wood's review of T. H. Barrett's The Woman Who Discovered Printing:

The Chinese technology [of woodblock printing] is frequently misunderstood and dismissed as primitive and impractical. yet, as Joseph Mcdermott showed in his Social History of the Chinese Book (2006), the Protestant missionary William Milne reported n 1820 that traditional Chinese woodblock printing was the most economical and efficient method for the publication of translations of the Bible, more efficient and cost-effective than European-style movable-type printing.

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Our heroine, the Empress Wu (628-705), herself comissioned a set of 3,000 manuscript copies of the Lotus sutra, totalling 21,000 paper scrolls, "for the posthumous karmic benefit of her parents", and at least one set of the entire Taoist corpus, in about 2,000 scrolls, in memory of a son who died. Despite her manuscript commissions, she may also have made the order that started China's printing industry.

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from Linne R. Mooney's review of Kathleen L. Scott's Tradition and Innovation in Later Medieval English Manuscripts

The third essay examines the complicated two-page illustration following the text of The Abbey of the Holy Ghost in a British Library manuscript, dated to the second quarter of the fifteenth century. The text offers "spiritual guidance for those living in a mixed life--in the world and of the spirit";  . . . Scott concludes that the images therein are intended to lead the user through a series of meditations on the allegorical meaning of the Abbey text. A splendid diagram laid over the two-page image illustrates this beautifully.

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