Bulletin of Hispanic Studies

L. Vinge, "The Narcissus Theme in Western European Literature up to the early 19th Century" (Book Review)

Bulletin of Hispanic Studies (1968), 45, (3), 254

Abstract

254 BHS, XLV (1968) BRIEFER NOTICES definition in method and arrangement mars what would otherwise have been a useful adjunct to the dictionary. Although the authors ostensibly approach their subject through the English, they have evidently culled many examples from Spanish contexts and translated back to the English headword, occasionally with rather strange results, e.g., To Depart: partir de (in the sense of tomar como punto de partida). The headwords are not defined by a sufficient variety of English contexts and the Spanish examples provided are often inadequate. A more rigorous selection of entries with detailed treatment would have been preferable. The typographicallayout lacks clarity. Spanish versions, whether synonymous or not, are always separated by a semi-colon. There is no distinction between parts of speech and no indication of relative frequency of usage. In spite of some good entries, the Guide fails to provide enough material beyond that available in standard dictionaries to justify its publication as an independent volume. J. E. LYON Bristol. In The Narcissus Theme in Western European Literature up to the early Igth Century (Lund, 1967, xv +448 pp., Kr.4S) Miss Louise Vinge outlines the theme in Classical literature, then traces it in modem Western European literature century by century from the twelfth century onwards. The book brings a great deal of material together. The value of such a study is that it shows the transmission of themes from writer to writer and literature to literature and, at the same time, by showing what each age made of the myth it helps to characterize that age. Miss Vinge deals not only with the longer treatments of the theme but also with short poems and even allusions. Her range is impressive. Necessarily (as she herself remarks on occasion) she has to rely a great deal on previous accounts by others; much of her book is therefore a summary of others' opinions with a critical running commentary-often acute-by Miss Vinge herself. This does not make for lively reading but in any case Stoffgeschichte is not for most bedsides. The book will undoubtedly be valuable for reference. Spanish literature is reasonably well represented but does not occupy much of the book. Reference to Cassia shows that a number of Spanish and Portuguese versions of the myth have been ignored; admittedly some of these are of little account. Aldana's sobrecelestial Narciso amante (in the epistle to Arias Montano) is not mentioned; an illuminating account of the background of the image will be found on pp. 189-9°. For the mythological poems by Lope and others, for Calderon's Eco y Narciso and for Sor Juana Ines' El divino Narciso Miss Vinge goes to the well-known literary historians (Cossio, Valbuena Prat, Aubrun etc.). The Spanish scholar will not find much novelty, naturally enough, but there are interesting remarks Copyright (c) 2004 ProQuest Information and Learning Company Copyright (c) Liverpool University Press

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JONES, R. O.