Marvel and Artefact

The 'Wonders of the East' in its manuscript contexts


Marvel and Artefact examines the three surviving manuscripts of Wonders of the East (London, BL, Cotton Vitellius A. xv; London, BL, Cotton Tiberius B. v; and Oxford, Bodleian Library, Bodley 614). After outlining the learned tradition of writing on monsters and marvels and the family of texts of which the Wonders of the East is part, A. J. Ford offers a forensic reading of each manuscript in which codex, text and image are studied together as a single artefact. By focussing on the materiality of manuscripts whose origin can only be hypothesized, this innovative and challenging work opens new vistas for the study and interpretation of medieval manuscripts and the cultures that produced them.
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Biographical Note

A. J. Ford, Ph.D. (2009), University of Manchester, is the Vicar of Holy Saviour, Sugley, in the Diocese of Newcastle.

Table of contents

List of Illustrations List of Figures Abbreviations Acknowledgements Chapter 1 'The Manifold uses of Things': The Early Medieval Book as Artefact Chapter 2 The Wonders of the East and the Learned Tradition of Marvels Introduction A Brief Overview of the Learned Tradition The Wonders of the East and the Letter of Pharasmenes to Hadrian Chapter 3 The Wonders in a Manuscript of Unknown Origin: London, British Library, Cotton Vitellius A. XV Introduction Illustration Homodubii Cynocephali and Donestre Other similarities Conclusion Palaeography Anglo-Saxon Square Minuscule: Scribe 2 Style-I English Vernacular Minuscule: Scribe 1 The Significance of Distinct Scripts in Vitellius A. xv Codicology The Consensus Quires The Contested Quires The Wonders in Vitellius A. xv: ‘Speaking Beyond the Light’ Chapter 4 The Wonders and the Computus Manuscript: London, British Library, Cotton Tiberius B. V Introduction The Origin and Audience of Tiberius B. v Reading Books and the Monastic Library The Materiality of Tiberius B. v Page Design in Tiberius B. v The Wonders of the East The Calendar Tiberius B. v: the Semiotics of the Computus Manuscript The Wonders of the East as Semiotic The Land of Vineyards and the Ivory Couch The Mountain of Adamant and the Griffin The Phoenix and its Nest of Cinnamon The Unnamed Fiery Mountain and its Black Inhabitants Jamnes and Mambres Conclusion Chapter 5 The Wonders and the Schools: Oxford, Bodleian Library, Bodley 614 Introduction The Problem of Dating Bodley 614 Codicological Considerations Art-Historical Considerations Palaeographical Considerations Textual Considerations Summary The Origin and Sources of Bodley 614 A Palaeographical Comparandum? The Calendar The Additions from William of Conches’s De philosophia mundi De miraculis beati Thomae apostoli St Urri and the Folklore of Megalithic Monuments Evidence Concerning Opusculum de ratione spere Summary The Social Relations of the ‘Twelfth-Century Renaissance’ Bodley 614 and the Practice of the Schools Selection and Compilation Self-Aware Commentary An Illustrative Tradition The Mythographic Mode The Fighting Brothers The Dancing Women Conclusion Chapter 6 The Materiality of Marvels Appendix Bibliography


All those interested in book history and manuscript culture, Anglo-Saxon manuscripts, palaeography, art history or codicology; the literature of the Anglo-Saxons; and the materiality of artefacts