Scribes and the (re)making of books (1)

In Bodley 264, there is a fascinating example of how scribes (?) could interact with the material they were copying, showing us their thought processes at work. The scribe (or the new owner of the original manuscript from Tournai) believed that there was a gap in the French poem, because an episode that he knew from the story of Alexander the Great wasn’t included in it.  So the English poem, which recounts the story of Alexander’s exchange of letters with King Dindimus was added to the manuscript to fill the perceived lacuna.

By comparing all the surviving copies of the Roman d’Alexandre, we now know that the French poem never contained this episode in the first place.  It was nevertheless important for the scribe or the new owner of Bodley 264 that it should be as complete as possible in its account of the great King.

Oxford, Bodleian Library MS. Bodl. 264, fol. 67r (detail)

The scribe directs the reader how to read…

So how did the scribe join these texts together?  Click here to find out.

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(Images reproduced by kind permission of the Bodleian Library, University of Oxford

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