Modern Languages and Literatures, Department of


Date of this Version

October 2000


Published in Sixteenth Century Journal 31:3 (Fall 2000), pp. 848–849. Copyright © 2000 Th e Sixteenth Century Journal Publishers, Inc. Used by permission.


Malcolm Smith’s untimely death in 1994 left a serious void in French Renaissance scholarship. This loss to the profession has in part been compensated by a remarkable volume that assembles nearly thirty articles written by Professor Smith over a twenty-eight-year period. The volume also includes an extensive bibliography that lists Professor Smith’s books and critical editions. Professor Smith’s essays, published in journals such as Bibliothèque d’Humanisme et Renaissance, Revue de Littérature Comparée, and The Sixteenth Century Journal, reveal a scholar whose meticulousness and originality remain exemplary for those devoted to research in the humanities. What is particularly striking about early articles such as “Ronsard and Queen Elizabeth I” (1966), and later pieces such as “Paul de Foix and Freedom of Conscience” (1993), is Professor Smith’s ability to situate literary and historical texts in their political and religious contexts while maintaining a New Critical attention to detail as well as a New Historical focus on texts as social documents. The consistency of Professor Smith’s approach is reinforced by a clear and sophisticated writing style that fol lows the Aristotelian method of outline, exposition, and summary. While it may seem rather curious to highlight a scheme so fundamental to academic work, its mention is important because this type of format is often overlooked today. The order and precision with which Professor Smiths arguments unfold is a most refreshing reminder of the advantages classical training brings to literary criticism.