Medieval miscellanies are multi-text manuscripts, made up of varied contents, often in a mixture of languages. They might be the work of one compiler or several, and might have been put together over a short period of time or over many years (even over several generations). Such mixed manuscripts are much more common that we might imagine and indeed are a typical environment for the survival of medieval texts. Two novel and ambitious avenues for investigation form the core of the present volume. First, how can we define the miscellany and best engage with and exploit the complex questions that it raises? Second - though of no lesser importance - is the cultural significance of this type of manuscript: how may the miscellany reveal processes and interactions that are otherwise obscured in modern editions or critical studies of individual texts? The essays in this volume discuss a great number of manuscript miscellanies produced in Britain in the 14th, 15th, and 16th centuries. Some of the essays offer new insights into very well-known miscellanies, whilst others draw attention to little-known volumes.
Whilst previous studies of the miscellany have restricted themselves to disciplinary or linguistic boundaries, this collection uniquely draws on the expertise of specialists in the rich range of vernacular languages used in Britain in the later Middle Ages (Anglo-French, Middle English, Older Scots, Middle Welsh). As a result it has been possible to draw illuminating comparisons between miscellany manuscripts that were the products of different geographical areas and cultures. Collectively the essays in Insular Books explore the wide range of heterogeneous manuscripts that may be defined as miscellanies, and model approaches to their study that will permit a deeper and more nuanced understanding of the production of these assemblages, as well as their circulation and reception in their own age and beyond
Margaret Connolly, Honorary Research Fellow, School of English, University of St Andrews, Raluca Radulescu, Reader in Medieval Literature Co-Director of the Institute for medieval and Early Modern Studies, Bangor University and Aberystwyth University, Bangor University
1. Introduction ; 2. Texts in Conversation: Charlemagne Epics and Romances in Insular Plural-Text Codices ; 3. Multilingualism, the Harley Scribe, and Johannes Jacobi ; 4. Literary Scribes: The Harley Scribe and Robert Thornton as Case Studies ; 5. The Organisation of Multilingual Miscellanies: the Contrasting Fortunes of Middle English Lyrics and Romances ; 6. John Northwood's Miscellany Revisited ; 7. Vying for Attention: the Contents of Trinity College Dublin MS 432 ; 8. The Chivalric Miscellany: Classifying John Paston's 'Grete Boke' ; 9. Amateur Book Production and the Miscellany in Late-Medieval East Anglia: Tanner 407 and Beinecke 365 ; 10. Writing Without Borders: Multilingual Content in Welsh Miscellanies from Wales, the Marches and Beyond ; 11. Welsh Bardic Miscellanies ; 12. Lancelot of the Laik and the Literary Manuscript Miscellany in Fifteenth- and Sixteenth-Century Scotland ; 13. Entertainment Networks, Reading Communities, and the Early Tudor Anthology: Bodliean Library, MS Rawlinson C. 813 ; 14. Aberystwyth, National Library of Wales, MS Peniarth 12: The Development of a Bilingual Miscellany - Welsh and English ; 15. Towards a Taxonomy of Middle English Manuscript Assemblages ; 16. The Whole Book and the Whole Picture: Editions and Facsimiles of Medieval Miscellanies and their Influence ; 17. Afterword