Bryn Mawr Classical Review 02.04.03


Shelley Arlen, The Cambridge Ritualists: An Annotated Bibliography of the Works by and about Jane Ellen Harrison, Gilbert Murray, Francis M. Cornford, and Arthur Bernard Cook. N. J. & London: The Scarecrow Press, 1990. Pp. x, 414;ills. 4. ISBN 0-8108-2373-X. $40.00.


Reviewed by William M. Calder III, University of Illinois.

We have had since 1934 a bibliography of J. G. Frazer, godfather of the Cambridge Ritualists: see Theodore Besterman, A Bibliography of Sir James George Frazer O. M. (London 1934; repr. 1968) with addenda at Robert Ackerman, J. G. Frazer: His Life an d Work (Cambridge 1987) 309-310. It is scarcely to be believed that no Englishman has thought it worth his while to produce a comprehensive bibliography of Gilbert Murray, arguably the most famous English Hellenist of the twentieth century and comparable to Jowett in the nineteenth; nor a comprehensive bibliography of Jane Harrison, surely the most brilliant woman in the history of classical studies and a pioneer feminist. Cornford and Cook are certainly not Murray or Harrison. But their work is not negligible and has exerted considerable influence on subsequent research.1 Yet the two booklength lives of Murray, the two of Harrison, and the one of Frazer have all been written by non-classicists, two of them by Americans and one by an Australian.

As B. L. Gildersleeve remarked in despair some 140 years ago (Brief Mention, 367) of Britain's classical scholars: "It is sad ... to reflect upon the uniform fate of all those great men who have been sent to those ungrateful people."

Now a reference librarian at the University of Oklahoma Libraries in Norman, Oklahoma, Shelley A(rlen), has gathered 2019 items, interspersed with informative essays on each ritualist and the ritualists in general, into an enormously valuable volume that deserves wide circulation here and in Europe. Rather than the sixty-first general book in English on Euripides, this is a tool that makes important earlier work easily available and that will not grow old. The book is not just a list of titles and dates. That would certainly have been welcome. A. summarizes each entry in several lines. This is of particular value where the title does not reveal immediately the article's content and when dealing with the many letters written by Murray to The Times and elsewhere. She also does what every intelligent bibliographer must do and what the recent bibliographers of the two knights, Kenneth J. Dover and Hugh Lloyd-Jones, never thought to do. She lists the reviews of books. That is the best guide to contemporary reception. Not only books. She has gathered reviews of the performances of Murray's translations. With the new interest, under the aegis of Professor Hellmut Flashar, in "Inszenierung als Rezeption," the value of such elusive reactions, often the only surviving evidence for revivals, has greatly increased. One may add to A. for the famous production of Murray's The Trojan Women at the Chicago Little Theater in 1915: Paul A. Edwards, "Putting on the Greeks": Euripidean Tragedy and the Twentieth Century American Theater, (Diss. Colorado 1987) 39-99.

There is a further admirable contribution of this book. The English long condoned the pernicious habit of anonymous reviewing. A. has been able to identify the authors of a number of items that until her book have have had to be cited as Anonymous. These are both reviews of books written by the ritualists and contributions by the ritualists themselves. Let me give two examples of considerable importance. A. has identified the lengthy review article "Scriptured Tombs of Hellas," Edinburgh Review 185 (19 87) 441-64 as written by Jane Harrison. Some dozen unsigned reviews of major publications in the Spectator are now attributed to her on the basis of her unpublished correspondence with Lytton Strachey and the Cornford papers. Knowledge of the author considerably raises our opinion of the reviews.

Further A. has identified the most detailed review of any book by Harrison written before 1896 to be by the most competent authority in England on the subject. I mean Percy Gardner's review of Harrison-Verrall, Mythology and Monuments of Ancient Athens in Quarterly Review 171 (1890) 122-149. This becomes the most authoritative public evaluation of Harrison before her failed candidacies for the Yates Chair. Often A. fills out signatures of reviews signed only by initials. I should add: at No. 408 (p. 87) and No. 430 (p. 100) K. J. M. is K. J. Maidment; at No. 471 (p. 116) W. F. J. K. is W. F. Jackson Knight; at No. 485 (p. 124) F. E. A. is Frank Ezra Adcock; at No. 488 (p. 127) W. R. M. L. is Walter R. M. Lamb.

A.'s coverage is beyond praise. Wilamowitz himself could not find Murray's reviews of his Recollections: see HSCP 83 (1979) 394-395. Nor could I. She has both (No. 1320)! I have detected only one serious omission, the four letters of Murray to Yeats: see Letters to W. B. Yeats I, edited by Richard J. Finneran, George Mills Harper and William M. Murphy (New York 1977) 115-116 (10 January 1903); 116-117 (24 January 1903); 130-131 (12 November 1903); 145-146 (27 January 1905). The last contains Murray's disparagement of OT ("it is all construction and no spirit") and discusses the Censor's forbidding its performance in London.

There is one major defect in the volume which it would be dishonest for me to pass over in silence. The material is divided under each figure into books and pamphlets, collaborations, translations and critical editions, articles, contributions to books, published letters, reviews, works about the subject. Under each section material is presented alphabetically by title. Published letters are found under "L" among articles and within the rubric letters they are arranged alphabetically by title of the publication in which the letter appeared (in Murray's case from Classical Review to "Letter to the Registrar" including 190 letters to The Times). there are three comprehensive and accurate indices at the end of the volume (Author, Title, Subject). The Kardinalfehler was not to arrange all four bibliographies chronologically with one index of subject matter at the end. It takes an afternoon to find what Murray wrote 1914-1919. It should take a moment.

Note

1. See 'The Cambridge Ritualists Reconsidered', edited by W.M. Calder III, Illinois Studies in the History of Classical Scholarship (1989), where 14 specialists consider the history, contributions, and influence of the group.