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Welsh History Review


Vol. 11, nos. 1-4 1982-83

Gerald of Wales : Gerald of Wales, 1146-1223 : Book review.

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of editing Anglo-Saxon glosses, one geared to more than mere lexi-
Llafar a Llyfr yn yr Hen Gyfnod, Professor Simon Evans's G. J. Williams
Memorial Lecture, could, translated into English, easily have been a
contribution to Dr. Brooks's volume. Primarily it is a compact and
convenient survey of the sources of Old Welsh, manuscript and monu-
mental. It does, however, lead us to two interesting suggestions. The
beginnings of written Welsh Professor Evans associates with what he sees
as a slump in Latin learning in Wales in the ninth and tenth centuries. It
is a suggestion which ignores both Asser and the manuscript evidence
that it was partly from Wales that Latin learning regained its foothold in
England in the tenth century.
A few years ago Dr. David Dumville demonstrated that one cannot,
on palaeographical grounds, prove that the written tradition of the main
body of the Welsh Hengerdd began before about 1100. Professor Evans
now ventures the opinion that this cannot be proved either on linguistic
or orthographical grounds. He suggests that the tradition may have been
oral until the twelfth century. It is a suggestion which should make news
and which deserves a longer airing.
National Library of Wales DANIEL HUWS
GERALD OF WALES. By Brynley F. Roberts. University of Wales Press,
1982. Pp. 107. £ 2.50.
GERALD OF WALES, 1146-1223. By Robert Bartlett. Oxford University
Press, 1982. Pp. 246. £ 19.50.
A prolific, skilful and self-conscious writer, Gerald of Wales more than
made up for the indifference of contemporary chroniclers towards him.
Indeed, so detailed and colourful are the images which he projected of
himself to posterity, and so fond have historians been of quoting him,
that Gerald has been in danger of appearing so familiar as to foreclose
any further evaluation of his achievement. That there is in fact a lot more
to Gerald than immediately meets the eye has been amply demonstrated
over the last decade or so in the important studies of Dr. Michael Richter,
as well as by the new editions of the Speculum Duorum and the Expugnatio
Hibernica, and to this renewed scholarly interest in Gerald's writings the
two books under review are a welcome and valuable addition.
In his concise and perceptive introduction to Gerald of Wales, Professcr r
Brynley Roberts succeeds in conveying the rich diversity of his subject's
life and writings. All of Gerald's major works receive discussion and are
set against both their twelfth-century cultural background and the
changing fortunes of their author's career. Particular attention is given
to Gerald's literary models and techniques: immensely well read, Gerald
was a gifted stylist who practised the rhetorical conventions of the Latin
auctores whom he admired so much. Professor Roberts suggests, for
example, that the celebrated account of Manorbier 'fulfils the function
of the type of digression known in the rhetorical handbooks as amplification
and rightly points to the difficulties of interpretation posed by the
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