Index of Dedications and Commendatory Verses in English Books before 1641

Index of Dedications and Commendatory Verses in English Books before 1641

Index of Dedications and Commendatory Verses in English Books before 1641

Index of Dedications and Commendatory Verses in English Books before 1641

Excerpt

Conceived as an aid to biographical research in the form of a key to the contributors of commendatory verses and the recipients of dedications in British books before 1641, this index has been expanded to cover the other material found in preliminary leaves, such as epistles by editor, printer, or bookseller. The volume should be of use to students of patronage, publishing conditions, bibliography, and literary, social, and political history. As the scope of the index grew, the plan for a comprehensive introduction withered; the following remarks are limited to (i) the historical setting, (ii) the scope and method of the book, (iii) the degree of coverage achieved within this plan, and (iv) acknowledgement of the generous aid that made the work possible.

In short, readers must look elsewhere for a comprehensive survey of Renaissance literary patronage, including such aspects as motives for dedicating books, the grounds for choosing patrons, and the rewards sought or received. The editor refrains without reluctance from discussing the conventions of dedicatory epistles and their contents, all too often hackneyed and monotonous. Nor is there space to treat plagiarism of dedication texts or the instances (noted in the index) of usurpation of epistles by later editors or booksellers. Since this index will necessarily be the basis for future studies of literary patronage, students are cautioned that some instances of patronage--even important ones--are not reflected in it for technical reasons. Thus John Donne's relations with the Drury family are unmentioned for the simple reason that no formal dedication is involved. Other types of material ignored through editorial policy are listed in the second section of this introduction.

I. HISTORICAL SETTING

Since the dedication of Renaissance printed books merely extended the custom of medieval manuscripts, remoter origins may be ignored and attention may focus on evolutionary developments. With the models of the classics before them, the humanists unquestionably stimulated the quantity, if not the quality, of literary patronage. In medieval works the dedication is often embedded in the text or incorporated in a brief foreword or explicit. In the evolution of the formal dedicatory epistle in early printing, an intermediate phase is recognizable in which the epistle is distinct from the text, yet still serves as the critical and editorial preface.

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