In the second chapter of OEMUM, Romancing the Book, the author spends a lot of time discussing the probable owners of the Aucinleck manuscript. One idea that she throws into the mix of possibilities is the idea that this manuscript was meant for lower class citizens, contrary to the usual high class ownership of manscripts in the Middle Ages. One of her major reasons for this idea is the use of English in the manuscript, which was different than the usual latin or french.
What information does this give you about the English language in the Medieval Period? How did the public look at English compared to French or Latin? Talk about the benefits of English to this time period and why it may have been preferred to the public over French or Latin.
While studying for the midterm, I was re-reading the notes from last week on the way that manuscripts go through rolling revisions. The idea of this really intrigues me because now a days, authors are very hesitant to share their ideas and more importantly, the credit for their work with anybody. If a book is being published, it is very rare to see more than two author names on the cover. Its just the way that culture has become, people do not like sharing especially when it comes to fame. This idea is partly why the concept of a rolling revision and social authorship is crazy to me. Authors of these manuscripts wrote these manuscripts without any want of fame and fortune. They knew going into the manuscript that others were going to take their work and re-write it, make changes, make edits, and in some cases, just turn it into their own work.
I look up to these authors and scribes. This shows that these people were not interested in the glory of the final product, but they genuinely wanted their stories to be shared and read. In most cases, when a manuscript was being re-written by a different scribe this meant that the manuscript was getting a longer lasting life. This to them was way more important than getting fame for maybe a year and then being forgotten. To me, this really put into perspective the way times have changed since the middle ages. Priorities have changed drastically, and maybe this isn’t such a good thing. Rolling revision may not allow one person to get all of the credit, but it would allow the work to get better and be epitomized over years and years to come. Just think about how much more amazing literature would be if this was still the way things were written.
In Chapter one of Opening Up Middle English Manuscripts, the author goes into detail about the different variations that have been made of the Canterbury Tales. Many things stood out to me about this. For instance, the fact that not a lot is known about the original compilation of the tales and why Chaucer did not finish his tales. I thought it was really interesting to see a side by side comparison of the HG and the EL manuscripts and how the scribes decided to order the tales. Many of the tales stay in the same place in both manuscripts, but then some of the tales such as “Man of Law’s Tale” are in completely different places. Did the different scribes find different meaning in this tale? And if so, why did they choose to put it where they did?
Another major mystery that goes along with the Canterbury Tales is the mysterious ending of the tales. The author of OEMUM goes into detail about how each scribe handled the ending of “The Cook’s Tale”. The two manuscripts that the author looked into, HG and EL, both did not try to cover up the ending up the cook’s tale by adding information on Gamelyn, but some of the other manuscripts that were written in this time period did. I thought this was incredible that some scribes actually decided to change the work of Chaucer by adding a complete new ending to the story. Some of the scribes supposedly did this in order to make the story more finished and, supposedly, better. In my opinion, I think leaving Chaucer’s original work is much more satisfying, even if it is not finished.
I was amazed to read about all of the unknown things that surround the Canterbury Tales. As one of the most iconic works in literary history, you would think that they would know much more about it. It was very interesting to me to read about all of the different theories surrounding the manuscripts and all of the scribes. The fact that something with such little information on it is so iconic, even centuries later, just makes the Canterbury Tales even more intriguing to me!
In my readings tonight, one thing that I found very intriguing was the images that were found in the Pearl poem with the man dreaming by the river. One thing that really caught my attention was the “spot” that they kept referring to. Looking at the image, initially I didn’t see any major significance’s of the spot. To me, it just seemed like a darker part of the hill like a river or some sort. I didn’t think that it had any major importance. But after reading through the chapter, it became clear to me what the spot represented in reference to the poem itself. I thought that it was very interesting that something so small and insignificant could have so much importance on the image as a whole. When the writer began to analyze the spot and say that it was a representation of either the grave of the dreamer’s daughter, the portal to heaven, or the place where he initially dropped the Pearl, it made me think how amazing it was for the artist to add in such a small and somewhat insignificant detail, but he created it in a way that made it seem so important.
Another thing about this image that I found very interesting was the idea of the aquamarine color that was supposedly not there in the original. This brings back more interest towards the spot. One question that this posed in my mind was what was the purpose of adding the spot later? If the original artist did not put this small detail into the original piece, then why did another artist find it important to add in later? The spot posed a lot of curiosity in my mind and I would really like to gather more information on it and who drew in the spot and why? Was it just a mistake on the part of the first artist? Or was it something that needed to be added for a different reason. This is definitely something that I want to find out more information on.
While reading through Sir Gawain and the Green Knight in middle English, I began to notice that the language really adds to the overall feel of the text. One thing that you got to see in the middle English version that was not present in the normal version was the rhyming that took place. The lines has a very significant rhyme scheme and this allowed more focus on the meaning of the words and it also made it flow much easier. The language also allowed for the story to seem much more poetic and it all sounded better in my opinion. However, the middle english was difficult to read and it made the story a lot less enjoyable because it took longer to read and comprehend.
Overall, Sir Gawain is one of my favorite pieces of literature, and reading the middle english version allowed me to appreciate it in an entirely new sense. Middle English is still hard to understand and it took a lot of time and effort to decode it all, but reading this version definitely allowed me to learn a lot about the story as a whole and really gives the reader a sense of what time period this actually came from. It gives us some historical context behind the piece, which allowed me to appreciate it more and even get a sense of what these people were like at the time and put more faces into the story. Although it is fictional, reading it in the language that it was first created allowed me to picture the way it was written and appreciate it on a whole separate level.
After reading both of the readings for tonight, I found many different interesting aspects about both “OEMUM” and in Broadview. However, the most interesting part of my readings that really stood out to me was the manuscript of Sir Degrevant. The most interesting part of this that made it really stand out to me was the fact that not only were more than one scribes present in the manuscript, but also the fact that the manuscript is made up of both Anglicana and Secretary forms of script. On page 31, there is an in-depth description of characteristics found in the manuscript that are from both forms of script. This really intrigued me because the two styles seem to be very diverse and the way that they were intertwined into one piece by different scribes made the piece seem unique and allowed it to stand out from the other manuscripts that we read about so far. One major example of this that I remember is the W’s throughout the piece. Also on page 31, it is pointed out to the reader that the w’s throughout the manuscript fluctuate between secretary and Anglicana. Also with this same manuscript, I found it interesting that the handwriting and the form of the manuscript was not professionally done. On page 30, the description of the scribe was that she was “unprofessional” and “loose, sloppy, and untidy”. This stood out to me because up to this point, everything we have looked at has been very sophisticated, beautiful, professional, and flows across the page. This particular manuscript however was botched, corrected, crossed out, uneven, and frankly, unpleasant to the eye. Altogether, this manuscript had many characteristics that allowed the piece to really stand out in my mind. It was very interesting to learn about and I enjoyed looking at it thoroughly.