The monolingual Bodleian Library, MS Laud Misc. 108 is unique in assembling, perhaps as early as 1280, a large number of Middle English texts without the inclusion of French and Latin texts. The collation of texts in this early vernacular manuscript suggests a purposeful and deliberate arrangement, revealing a prioritizing, perhaps on the part of an owner or compiler, of certain spiritual and political themes and concerns. An imagined construct of England emerges as an entity of spiritual and political centrality in the manuscript. In resituating texts in their manuscript context, we can recover—to a degree—a medieval understanding of genre and how it was perceived to be less rigid than we view it today. Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Laud Misc. 108 may be an unpretentious, vernacular volume, copied on vellum without illustrations, but it emerges as an eminently useful anthology for understanding early Middle English culture. Summaries of the book’s chapters are included.
|Title of host publication||Introduction: Reading Bodleian Library, MS Laud Misc. 108 as a ‘Whole Book'|
|State||Published - Jan 2011|