Academic journal article Medium Aevum

The Egerton Version of Mandeville's Travels

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

The Egerton Version of Mandeville's Travels

Article excerpt

The Egerton Version of Mandeville's Travels, ed. M. C. Seymour, Early English Text Society 336 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010). xxx + 230 pp. ISBN 978-0-19-959106o. £60.00. For centuries after it first appeared r.13 56, Mandeville's Travels had an extraordinary Europe-wide authority. Translated from its original French into every European language by the late 1500s, some 300 pre-1500 MSS survive. This argues huge demand. The three major English translations - 'Defective', with some 3 3 MSS, and single MSS of Egerton and Cotton - all date from around 1400. Defective, after Pynson's printing of 1495/6, became the parent of all subsequent English versions to 1725. Michael Seymour has published magisterial editions of the Cotton, Bodley, Metrical, and Defective versions, and his Egerton - perhaps the most interesting of all English versions - has long been awaited. The only previous seriously scholarly edition was Sir George Warner's limited Roxburghe Club edition in 1889. This volume gives as complete a genealogy of Egerton, and, given Seymour's earlier work over many years, of the English versions, as we are likely to get.

The translations must be seen in the context of that late 1300s surge in translating authoritative works from French and Latin into English. Translation influences vocabulary and style in the destination language, and the Mandeville translations are significant in how a resourceful, secular, English prose developed. …

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