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The Auchinleck Manuscript: New Perspectives

The Auchinleck Manuscript: New Perspectives

Edited by Susanna Fein
Copyright Date: 2016
Edition: NED - New edition
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 266
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  • Book Info
    The Auchinleck Manuscript: New Perspectives
    Book Description:

    Created in London c. 1340, the Auchinleck manuscript (Edinburgh, National Library of Scotland Advocates MS 19.2.1) is of crucial importance as the first book designed to convey in the English language an ambitious range of secular romance and chronicle. Evidently made in London by professional scribes for a secular patron, this tantalizing volume embodies a massive amount of material evidence as to London commercial book production and the demand for vernacular texts in the early fourteenth century. But its origins are mysterious: who were its makers? its users? how was it made? what end did it serve? The essays in this collection define the parameters of present-day Auchinleck studies. They scrutinize the manuscript's rich and varied contents; reopen theories and controversies regarding the book's making; trace the operations and interworkings of the scribes, compiler, and illuminators; tease out matters of patron and audience; interpret the contested signs of linguistic and national identity; and assess Auchinleck's implied literary values beside those of Chaucer. Geography, politics, international relations and multilingualism become pressing subjects, too, alongside critical analyses of literary substance. Susanna Fein is Professor of English at Kent State University (Kent, Ohio) and editor of The Chaucer Review. Contributors: Venetia Bridges, Patrick Butler, Siobhain Bly Calkin, A. S. G. Edwards, Ralph Hanna, Ann Higgins, Cathy Hume, Marisa Libbon, Derek Pearsall, Helen Phillips, Emily Runde, Timothy A. Shonk, Míceál F. Vaughan.

    eISBN: 978-1-78204-616-5
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vii-vii)
  4. List of Contributors
    (pp. viii-viii)
  5. Acknowledgements
    (pp. ix-ix)
  6. Abbreviations
    (pp. x-xi)
  7. Note on the Presentation of Auchinleck Texts
    (pp. xi-xii)
  8. INTRODUCTION. The Auchinleck Manuscript: New Perspectives
    (pp. 1-10)
    Susanna Fein

    This volume owes much of its genesis to an event sponsored under the aegis of the London Old and Middle English Research Seminars (LOMERS), held at Senate House, University College London, in July 2008. Focused on the Auchinleck manuscript (Edinburgh, NLS, MS Advocates 19. 2. 1), the presentations were, as I recall, meticulous in delivering new ways to perceive the book’s array of tangible clues, often daring in how they used these clues to assess contents and reconstruct new scenarios of the book’s making and purpose, and – more often than not – contentious in knocking down old theories in...

  9. CHAPTER ONE The Auchinleck Manuscript Forty Years On
    (pp. 11-25)
    Derek Pearsall

    The facsimile of the Auchinleck manuscript was published in 1977 on the break of a wave of published facsimiles of manuscripts of Middle English verse.¹ There had been facsimiles published by the Early English Text Society of theGawainmanuscript and the Harley manuscript as ‘one-off’ ventures, a very old facsimile of the Ellesmere manuscript, and a recent one of the Lincoln Thornton manuscript.² But Auchinleck was immediately followed by facsimiles of the Findern manuscript, CUL Ff. 2. 38, Fairfax 16, CUL Gg. 4. 27 and a stream of others, mostly published by either the Scolar Press or D. S....

  10. CHAPTER TWO Codicology and Translation in the Early Sections of the Auchinleck Manuscript
    (pp. 26-35)
    A. S. G. Edwards

    The early sections of the Auchinleck manuscript – that is, roughly the first hundred or so leaves – differ markedly in content from the later, predominantly romance sections that have been the chief focus of the attention the manuscript has received from literary critics.¹ These early sections comprise poems on religious subjects that are assembled in several distinct booklets, differentiated to varying extents by scribal stints and quire boundaries from each other and from the later booklet divisions in the manuscript.² The organization of these booklets, their contents, and what they may signify about the overall conception of the manuscript...

  11. CHAPTER THREE The Auchinleck Adam and Eve: An Exemplary Family Story
    (pp. 36-51)
    Cathy Hume

    The idea that Auchinleck was compiled for a family audience is now well established.¹ Newer scholarship has moved away from Laura Hibbard Loomis’s and P. R. Robinson’s view that the manuscript was produced speculatively, to the belief that it was a bespoke production, which to some extent reflected the preferences of an individual purchaser.² We do not know anything about this individual’s social status or geographical location, much less his or her actual identity, though various possibilities have been suggested.³ But the way in which Auchinleck’s contents are at once varied in terms of genre – including romance, chronicle, hagiography,...

  12. CHAPTER FOUR A Failure to Communicate: Multilingualism in the Prologue to Of Arthour and of Merlin
    (pp. 52-66)
    Patrick Butler

    Scholarship on the French of England has recently explored the relationship between English and French during the Hundred Years War.¹ However, the period of escalating political tension between England and France from the War of Saint-Sardos to the start of the Hundred Years War (1323–37) has received comparatively little attention. The Auchinleck manuscript (Edinburgh, NLS, MS Advocates 19. 2. 1), compiled during this time of strain between France and England, remains notable as a nearly monolingual manuscript. Previous studies have seen its high volume of Middle English texts as indicative of an increased demand for works in English.² Rather...

  13. CHAPTER FIVE Scribe 3’s Literary Project: Pedagogies of Reading in Auchinleck’s Booklet 3
    (pp. 67-87)
    Emily Runde

    In the Prologue to the AuchinleckOf Arthour and of Merlin, English is emphatically not the language of privilege. Addressing the poem’s Englishness in the context of a valorization of education, the writer asserts, ‘Auauntages tai hauen þare / Freynsch & Latin eueraywhare’ (lines 17–18).¹ This preface frames the choice of English as a potentially inclusive move, one that might render ‘auauntages’ accessible to every English person and not just to those with training in Latin or French – it claims, after all, that ‘euerich Jnglische Jnglische can’ (line 24). Although its contents occasionally incorporate some French and Latin themselves,...

  14. CHAPTER SIX Absent Presence: Auchinleck and Kyng Alisaunder
    (pp. 88-107)
    Venetia Bridges

    According to Chaucer’s Monk, Alexander the Great’s presence in the Auchinleck manuscript is unremarkable:

    The storie of Alisaunder is so commune

    That every wight that hath discrecioun

    Hath herd somewhat or al of his fortune.¹

    For the Monk, Alexander’s story is anexemplumof ‘false Fortune’ despite his chivalric glories (‘of knyghthod and of fredom flour’).² The use of Alexander as anexemplumis indeed ‘commune’ in late-fourteenth-century literary culture, as shown by contemporary texts like John Gower’sConfessio Amantis, in which Alexander (educated by Aristotle) is the perfect kingly ruler.³ Gower’s deployment of Alexander in this way is not...

  15. CHAPTER SEVEN Sir Tristrem, a Few Fragments, and the Northern Identity of the Auchinleck Manuscript
    (pp. 108-126)
    Ann Higgins

    There is little mystery about the history and ownership of Edinburgh, NLS, MS Advocates 19. 2. 1, commonly known as the Auchinleck manuscript, from the early eighteenth century onwards – that is, from around 1740, the year in which Alexander Boswell, Lord Auchinleck, wrote his name on a paper flyleaf of the book. That, however, leaves us with a period of approximately four hundred years during which the book apparently lay in a kind of limbo from the 1330s, when it was copied and put together in London, until it fell into Boswell’s hands. In general, the assumption has been...

  16. CHAPTER EIGHT The Invention of King Richard
    (pp. 127-138)
    Marisa Libbon

    On those rare occasions when we talk or write about the text we have come to refer to asRichard Coer de Lion,¹ the Middle English romance depicting England’s late-twelfth-century crusader-king Richard I, we often begin with particular details about it to pique the interests and jog the memories of our listeners or readers. First, Richard’s mother is an Eastern princess and perhaps a fairy, who, when made to watch the Eucharist’s elevation, shoots up through the church roof, never to be heard from again. Next, Richard twice cannibalizes Saracens while on crusade, once with plausible deniability and the second...

  17. CHAPTER NINE Auchinleck and Chaucer
    (pp. 139-155)
    Helen Phillips

    This paper is not about whether Chaucer knew the Auchinleck manuscript.¹ It asks what looking from Auchinleck to Chaucer might reveal about Chaucer, and perhaps about Auchinleck.

    Chaucer’sCanterbury Talesis among other things a manuscript anthology. For both its frame story, with exchanges between pilgrim narrators and listeners, and its sequencing of items, his inspirations surely included manuscript compilation as much as real-life pilgrims’ storytelling and chatting or literary tale-collections. The Auchinleck manuscript (Edinburgh, NLS, MS Advocates 19. 2. 1), and also London, British Library, MS Harley 2253, prefigure Chaucer’sTalesin several aspects of their compilation.² Two such...

  18. CHAPTER TEN Endings in the Auchinleck Manuscript
    (pp. 156-175)
    Siobhain Bly Calkin

    When one consults either the digital or the print facsimile of the Auchinleck manuscript (Edinburgh, NLS, MS Advocates 19. 2. 1), one of the codicological notes encountered most frequently is ‘Ends imperfect’. This statement is true, first, of the whole manuscript. The last item in the codex as it exists today,The Simonie, itself ends imperfect, and, as David Burnley and Alison Wiggins note, ‘has the original item numberlx(60)’, a designation which indicates further ‘imperfection’ in the completeness of the reading experience one can have with the manuscript today.¹ Since only forty-three manuscript items survive, the numbering here...

  19. CHAPTER ELEVEN Paraphs, Piecework, and Presentation: The Production Methods of Auchinleck Revisited
    (pp. 176-194)
    Timothy A. Shonk

    In the years since a probative version of this paper was presented at the LOMERS Conference in London, in July 2008, two important studies in palaeography and in codicological methodology have appeared that may change the way scholars approach the study of manuscript production and of the communities of scribes and artisans who completed those manuscripts in the fourteenth century. The landmark work of Linne Mooney and Estelle Stubbs in their identification of the scribes engaged in the London Guildhall and in the production of literary manuscripts will undoubtedly shape the future of manuscript studies.¹ Having identified by name those...

  20. CHAPTER TWELVE Scribal Corrections in the Auchinleck Manuscript
    (pp. 195-208)
    Míċeál F. Vaughan

    While there is general agreement that Scribe 1 served in a final, compilational role in the construction of the Auchinleck manuscript (Edinburgh, NLS, MS Advocates 19. 2. 1), we have not (so far) succeeded in making entirely clear the chronological order in which the various booklets (or fascicles) came together and how they came to be arranged as they now stand in Auchinleck.¹ Even if we set aside the continuing dispute over whether there were six (A. J. Bliss, Derek Pearsall and Ian Cunningham, Alison Wiggins),² five (Eugen Kölbing, Malcolm Parkes, Ralph Hanna)³ or four (Pamela Robinson)⁴ scribes at work...

  21. CHAPTER THIRTEEN Auchinleck ‘Scribe 6’ and Some Corollary Issues
    (pp. 209-221)
    Ralph Hanna

    I owe my engagement here entirely to the generosity of Kenneth Dunn, head of the Manuscripts Department at the National Library of Scotland, and to the persistence of Ruth Kennedy. Having twice written directly, as best I could, about Auchinleck, I felt, at the time of the LOMERS conference, that I had nothing very useful to say to anyone about the whole book.¹ But Ruth would not let me off the hook, and we finally negotiated what she designated a ‘bonne bouche’, a ten-minute, late-afternoon presentation that would send conference participants to the bar, probably avid for rest and relief....

  22. Bibliography
    (pp. 222-240)
  23. Index of Manuscripts Cited
    (pp. 241-242)
  24. General Index
    (pp. 243-253)
  25. Back Matter
    (pp. 254-255)