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Insular BooksVernacular manuscript miscellanies in late medieval Britain$
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Margaret Connolly and Raluca Radulescu

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780197265833

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197265833.001.0001

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Towards a Taxonomy of Middle English Manuscript Assemblages

Towards a Taxonomy of Middle English Manuscript Assemblages

Chapter:
(p.263) 15 Towards a Taxonomy of Middle English Manuscript Assemblages
Source:
Insular Books
Author(s):

Julia Boffey

A. S. G. Edwards

Publisher:
British Academy
DOI:10.5871/bacad/9780197265833.003.0015

The terminology for discussing collections of texts in Middle English is generally lacking precision. Terms like ‘anthology’, ‘miscellany’, or ‘commonplace book’ tend to be used interchangeably and anachronistically. This chapter is an attempt to formulate a more precise terminology for discussing the forms of assemblage in which Middle English literary texts survive, and to offer, with appropriate illustrations, indications of the limits of useful attempts at categorisation among collections in this period. The chapter looks at place and chronology as important aspects of a manuscript’s compilation history, and explores the different accretive ways in which texts were assembled together. It signals the important precedent of texts grouped together in commercially produced booklets, and considers the notion of the book as a pragmatically convenient repository for groups of items, especially short texts.

Keywords:   compilation, assemblage, Middle English, late medieval, scribe(s), printer(s), Chaucer, compilers, users, manuscript trade

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