Medieval Texts and Their First Appearance in Print

Medieval Texts and Their First Appearance in Print

Medieval Texts and Their First Appearance in Print

Medieval Texts and Their First Appearance in Print

Excerpt

IN the last decades there has been considerable activity in the field of medieval studies. Not only have the relics of early vernacular literature been re-edited and investigated; a study of their sources and background has led inevitably to the recognition of the importance of the great body of medieval Latin literature, which in all countries formed the bulk of the reading-matter current among the educated classes. The undeniable influence of the Gesta Romanorum , of the Historia Alexandri Magni , and of Guido de Columna Historia Trojana on the Chansons de Geste , on Chaucer, and on the Italian novelists, and that of the early Latin drama on the Tudor dramatists have led to wider investigations of this Latin background, such as Owst's studies on the medieval preachers and the traces they left in early English literature, and Emile Mâle's demonstrations of the value of medieval texts for the understanding of symbolism and allegory in medieval art. Hence we have received within the last thirty years or so not only a number of new editions and reprints of medieval Latin texts but an even greater mass of studies and articles based on the long-neglected perusal of these old books in manuscript.

During the same period the bibliographers have devoted themselves to the research and descriptive enumeration of the products of the early printers and we now possess a very much fuller knowledge of the extant printed matter of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries than we had before Bradshaw and Proctor began their labours. It is, however, quite striking to observe how little notice the historians of literature seem to have taken of the bibliographical material made accessible to . . .

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