Academic journal article Medium Aevum

The 'Piers Plowman' Electronic Archive, Vol. I: Corpus Christi College, Oxford MS 201

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

The 'Piers Plowman' Electronic Archive, Vol. I: Corpus Christi College, Oxford MS 201

Article excerpt

The 'Piers Plowman' Electronic Archive, Vol. I: Corpus Christi College, Oxford MS 201 (F), ed. Robert Adams, Hoyt N. Duggan, Eric Eliason, Ralph Hanna III, John Price-Wilkin, and Thorlac Turville-Petre, Society for Early English and Norse Electronic Texts (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2000). CD-ROM. ISBN 0-472-00275-9. $33.00.

Clearly, the project of producing facsimiles of every Piers Plowman manuscript on CD-ROM is a wonderful one, and calls for grateful and enthusiastic support. Equally clearly, the project will become more useful the more facsimiles there are to hand. There seems no special reason for Corpus 201 to be first: it is important enough, an early and eccentric version of the alpha family of B, with sixteen instead of twenty-one passus.

The written accounts offered on screen are generous and informative, and the SGML version allows for many kinds of search of text and manuscript. The program for what the facsimiles should provide seems about right, though doubtless experience will bring further refinements. Crucially, the images of the manuscript leaves are vibrant and clear. Resolution remains perfectly clear even at 200-300 per cent zoom. The transcription does a good job of colouring the text to reflect the use of colour in the manuscript, and the user also gains a good idea of the actual size of the manuscript through the default setting and ruler at the left side of the leaves.

There are, however, difficulties of navigation. Most users will need to follow instructions to download fonts; Macintosh users should not even bother to try using the CD, so laborious and unsuccessful are the processes they must follow. …

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