part of the historian's concerns. Third, it exercised marked influence on the thoughts and behaviour of those who read it. Finally, it is an important contribution to the ideology and mythology which a society inherits. It is difficult to see how it is possible to quarrel with the view that literature has to be studied because, at once timebound and timeless, it gives us 'direct access to the mind of the past'. Sir Keith concludes by examining the role which literary considerations play in the writing of history, contending that, consciously or unconsciously, they loom larger than is often supposed if only because, whether historians like it or not, they are in fact trying to impose literary form upon the shapeless and unmanageable mass of past experience. Underlying this argument there seemed to be a plea that historians should remember that history is a branch of literature and should take immense pains to write as clearly and as effectively as possible, though the author would probably agree that many of them already do that. The text of the lecture appears to be a masterly distillation of profound and extensive reading and thought on its subject. One hopes that it is not too much to suggest that it represents the first outlines of a book in which these reflections might be deployed in greater detail. The trumpet call on behalf of the moral duty' of the 'unending quest to get nearer the past "as it really was"' could not be more timely and it merits as powerful a sounding-board as it can get. GLANMOR WILLIAMS Swansea JOHN OF WALES. A STUDY OF THE WORKS AND IDEAS OF A THIRTEENTH-CENTURY FRIAR. By Jenny Swanson. Cambridge Studies in Medieval Life and Thought, Fourth series, 10. Cambridge University Press, 1989. Pp. xi, 307. £ 32.50. This is the first full-scale study of the works of the thirteenth-century Franciscan friar, John of Wales. Very little is known of his life. His birth is placed between 1210 and 1230. He may not even have been Welsh. Dr. Swanson gives us three facts to suggest that he was: his appellation; that he was attached to the Franciscan custody of Worcester which included north Wales; and that in 1282 he acted as Archbishop Pecham's ambassador to Llywelyn. He taught theology in Oxford and Paris, and was sucked into the conflict with the Spiritual Franciscans in that from 1283 till his death in 1285 he was part of the commission which examined the works of Peter John Olivi. Although Dr. Swanson discusses all of John's works in her first chapter on his career, her book is concerned only with what she considers to be the main part of his oeuvre: his four early encyclopaedic preaching aids-the Breviloquium de virtutibus, Communiloquium, Compendiloquium and Breviloquium de sapientia sanctorum. These were composed between 1265 and 1275 at Oxford and Paris. She gives exhaustive treatment to John's sources and technique; the content of these works; and their spread and influence. The main focus is on the Communiloquium which, in the light of number and spread of surviving manuscripts, must have been one of the most