Cambrensis and medieval Ireland) has given him an essential insular perspective on the question of the importance of oral culture in the barbarian West. He has already published widely on the use of Latin and on problems of communication in the Middle Ages. This study covers the Frankish world, Italy, Britain and Ireland; Spain is excluded because of its Arabic heritage, and Scandinavia because of the lateness of its surviving evidence. Oddly, despite the wealth of material, England is fairly summarily discussed, although it is obviously welcome that Ireland (and, to a lesser extent, Wales) is so fully treated, since it is so often neglected in general studies of medieval history and literature, above all by continental scholars. It is unclear precisely what audience Richter is intending this book for. The fact that one cannot understand his arguments without being able to read medieval Latin and Old High German texts in the original shows that he is certainly not expecting this book to reach a wide undergraduate audience in the English-speaking world (which is regrettable). Yet the fact that he starts with a chapter outlining the political demise of the Roman Empire, in which he inevitably compresses and distorts, hardly provides the necessary captatio benevolentiae for scholars. Although there is much of interest in the book, too often the analysis lacks rigour and gives the impression of randomness. However, as the title says, it is 'Studies in' rather than an attempt to provide a rounded synthesis, and perhaps its intent will be clearer upon the appearance of the companion volume, Language and Culture in Early Medieval Europe, from the same publishers, in 1995. The book is divided into three sections: 'The Transformation of the Roman World', 'Approaches to Oral Culture' and 'The Early Medieval Evidence'. The first chapter looks at the settlement of the barbarians in the Roman Empire, arguing that the nature of their settlement meant that 'important aspects of their previous culture' (p. 26) would have survived. Chapter 2, on religion, argues that the Christianization of the Roman Empire and of Europe was not as uncontested or as complete as historians have suggested, and that conversion did not mean the abandonment of 'traditional culture'. The first section ends with a discussion of literacy, both theoretically and historically, ending with. a detailed discussion of the early Carolingians and a denial of McKitterick's argument that they created a 'society to which the written word was central'. After building up an awareness of the importance of oral culture, Richter confronts it head on in the second section. He began his studies, he admits, 'with a vague notion of orality having to do with heroic poetry', until he realized that these (written) texts told one little of the possible oral
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