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.
Subjects: Language & Literature
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