The Romance of the Rose Illuminated: Manuscripts at the National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth

The Romance of the Rose Illuminated: Manuscripts at the National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth

The Romance of the Rose Illuminated: Manuscripts at the National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth

The Romance of the Rose Illuminated: Manuscripts at the National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth

Synopsis

A central work in medieval and modern scholarship, the Romance of the Rose was among the most consistently illustrated of medieval secular texts. Consequently, interpretation of the visual evidence has played a significant part in elucidating the poem and its derivatives. This volume reproduces in color, with commentary and full contextual discussion, all the manuscripts of Le Roman de la Rose in the National Library of Wales. This book is a "must" for those who teach and study medieval literature in most European languages and especially for those who study Chauce--a poet who absorbed the Romance of the Rose to the core by translating it.

Excerpt

Our book primarily discusses the illuminations in a collection of Roman de la Rose manuscripts made by Francis Bourdillon, now in the Department of Manuscripts and Records at the National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth. In an ideal world many other Rose manuscripts around the globe would have an equal or even prior claim to be the subjects of such a book, so a word of explanation about the inception of this project may be appropriate.

The origin of the book can be traced to the “Medieval Illuminated Manuscripts in Wales” project developed and co-directed by C. W. Marx and Alcuin Blamires, with the assistance of Flora Lewis, in the Department of English at the University of Wales, Lampeter. The aim of that project (pursued with the help of research funding from the University and then, very substantially, from the Leverhulme Trust) was to create reproductions of the miniatures in every illuminated manuscript housed in Wales, and in the longer term to produce a catalogue making the materials more generally known.

When the “MIMW” directors introduced their project to colleagues at a Warburg Institute conference, they were energetically urged that it is always a major priority to get little-known miniatures into circulation through publication in whatever way possible. The prospect of achieving independent publication specifically of the Roman de la Rose miniatures in the Welsh holdings was first recognized at the suggestion of Gail Holian of Georgian Court College, New Jersey. But prospect was converted into reality by the enlightened interest of the Florence Gould Foundation in fostering Anglo-American research into French culture. Particular goals of the Gould Foundation are to promote French-American understanding and to provide support for education and the arts in the United States and France. Florence Gould was a tremendous patron of literature—and especially French literature—in the post-World War II years. It happens that she was also linked by marriage to the New Jersey estate which is now the site of Georgian Court College. Since Francis Bourdillon’s family was of French extraction and since he was particularly dedicated to collecting manuscripts and early editions of French romances, there seems a special appropriateness in aligning the Gould Foundation with the present analysis of his illuminated Roman de la Rose manuscripts.

The book will serve one of its primary objectives if it makes the existence and interest of the illuminations in the manuscripts at Aberystwyth better known.

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