background. He then turned to anthropology, to understand how oral culture worked in practice. The benefit of anthropology in Richter's case seems less to do with producing a theoretical basis on which to approach oral culture as to make him aware that complex and sophisticated cultures do not require literacy. The theory is in fact weak: Richter does not seem to have clear ideas of what 'oral culture' is (to restrict it largely to song, poetry and other kinds of performance arts seems very narrow), and some modern cultural theory would have helped considerably. The 'Approaches' section concludes with a discussion of the slender evidence for music and for performance of various kinds. Richter then turns to 'The Early Medieval Evidence', looking at secular entertainments in the Carolingian period, at oral culture in earlier Germanic societies and at the origins of the jongleurs in the late- and post-Carolingian period. His final chapters concern 'The Celtic Countries' and 'Oral Culture and Early Vernacular Literature'. 'The Celtic Countries' examines the evidence for oral learning and culture, particularly in Ireland, and will serve as a very useful introduction to the topic for those not well versed in Celtic arcana. The final chapter examines some ideas, such as the Parry-Lord theories on the production of oral literature, which might better have been introduced under 'Approaches'. 'Results' at the end offers a number of conclusions and thoughts about problems, some of which are still debatable, but all of which are worth debate, and must not be ducked just because so many historians have ducked them: that oral culture, particularly sung verse, was an essential part of early medieval culture, participated in by all levels of society, and by both the laity and, despite prohibitions, the clergy; that the presence of an oral tradition, as with the sudden appearance of the Nibelungenlied around 1200, implies continuity; that understanding this oral culture through Latin is hazardous; that Ireland is not exceptional in the strength of its oral culture, only in the amount of material that has survived; that the development of music in the liturgy in the early medieval period suggests the strength of traditional musical culture. The book is quite well produced, although a few grammatical and orthographic errors are uncorrected. It does seem absurd, however, in a book in which there is so much interesting general and theoretical discussion, that the index should list only the names of medieval men (and half a dozen women). Those interested in checking the wealth of comment on ideas, themes or modern scholars or on anonymous texts will have to compile their own index. EDWARD JAMES Reading