Author Attributions in Medieval Text Collections: An Exploration

In: Amsterdamer Beiträge zur älteren Germanistik
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  • 1 Utrecht Centre for Medieval Studies, Utrecht University, Utrecht, the Netherlands
  • 2 Department of English, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK
  • 3 Institut für Germanistik, Universität Wien, Vienna, Austria
  • 4 Department of French, King’s College London, London, UK

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This article examines the role and function of author attributions in multi-text manuscripts containing Dutch, English, French or German short verse narratives. The findings represent one strand of the investigations undertaken by the cross-European project ‘The Dynamics of the Medieval Manuscript’, which analysed the dissemination of short verse narratives and the principles of organisation underlying the compilation of text collections. Whilst short verse narratives are more commonly disseminated anonymously, there are manuscripts in which authorship is repeatedly attributed to a text or corpus. Through six case studies, this article explores medieval concepts of authorship and how they relate to constructions of authority, whether regarding an empirical figure or a literary construction. In addition, it looks at how authorship plays a role in manuscript compilation, and at the effects of attributions (by author and/or compiler) on reception. The case studies include manuscripts from the thirteenth to fifteenth centuries, produced in a range of social and cultural contexts, and featuring some of the most important European authors of short verse narratives: Rutebeuf, Baudouin de Condé, Der Stricker, Konrad von Würzburg, Willem of Hildegaersberch, and Geoffrey Chaucer. The preliminary findings contribute to our understanding of author attributions in text collections from across northern Europe and point towards future lines of enquiry into the role of authorship in medieval textual dissemination.

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  • 54

    See Deschamps 1972: 125–25; Meder 1991: 15–16. The codex consists of two parts: the second part, copied by another scribe on folios 137–201, preserves Dirc Potter’s Der minnen loep.

  • 59

    Meder 1991: 28. Text 50, Van sempelen ghelove [Of sincere faith], is an adaptation, in all probability by Willem, of another part of Boendale’s Lekenspiegel.

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