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Communal Creativity in the Making of the 'Beowulf' Manuscript

Towards a History of Reception for the Nowell Codex

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Simon C. Thomson

In Communal Creativity in the Making of the ‘Beowulf’ Manuscript, Simon Thomson analyses details of scribal activity to tell a story about the project that preserved Beowulf as one of a collective, if error-strewn, endeavour and arguing for a date in Cnut’s reign. He presents evidence for the use of more than three exemplars and at least two artists as well as two scribes, making this an intentional and creative re-presentation uniting literature religious and heroic, in poetry and in prose.

He goes on to set it in the broader context of manuscript production in late Anglo-Saxon England as one example among many of communities using old literature in new ways, and of scribes working together, making mistakes, and learning.

Incunabula in Transit

People and Trade

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Lotte Hellinga

Almost half a million books printed in the fifteenth century survive in collections worldwide. In Incunabula in Transit Lotte Hellinga explores how and where they were first disseminated. Propelled by the novel need to market hundreds of books, early printers formed networks with colleagues, engaged agents and traded Latin books over long distances. They adapted presentation to suit the taste of distinct readerships, local and remote. Publishing in vernacular languages required typographical innovations, as the chapter on William Caxton’s Flanders enterprise demonstrates. Eighteenth-century collectors dislodged books from institutions where they had rested since the sales drives of early printers. Erudite and entertaining, Hellinga’s evidence-based approach, linked to historical context, deepens understanding of the trade in early printed books.