With Martin Camargo’s excellent edition and translation of the text known as the Tria sunt, medievalists, and anyone interested in the history of language study, can now appreciate the scope of this late fourteenth-century manual of composition. It is a comprehensive and ambitious writing course, compiling teaching from the twelfth- and thirteenth-century manuals by Matthew of Vendôme, Geoffrey of Vinsauf, Gervase of Melkley, John of Garland, and others, while also adding further materials. In sixteen chapters of uneven length it covers how to begin, sustain, and end a composition in poetry or prose; stylistic embellishment; writing a letter; finding a subject through the topics of invention; aspects of literary theory including genres; and the faults to be avoided in writing.
Camargo’s English translation of his Latin text is supple, lucid, and extremely responsive to the nuance of the Latin, conveying both the technical thought and the poetic enterprise of the original. The volume is beautifully laid out, eminently readable, and user-friendly. Through this superb edition, we can now reckon properly with the importance of the Tria sunt for the history of rhetoric, the teaching of composition, and the relationship between academic and professional cultures in the late Middle Ages.