Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Robert Mannyng of Brunne: The Chronicle

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Robert Mannyng of Brunne: The Chronicle

Article excerpt

Robert Mannyng of Brunne: The Chronicle, ed. Idelle Sullens, Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies (Binghamton, New York: Centre for Medieval and Early Renaissance Studies, 1996). x + 912 pp. ISBN 0-86698-137-3. $60.00.

The first part of Robert Mannyng of Brunne's Chronicle was edited by Furnivall in 1887, the second part by Hearne in 1725, so that there is an indisputable need for a new edition. Furnivall based his text on Lambeth Palace, MS 131, Hearne on Petyt, MS 511. Petyt is from the late fourteenth century in the language of Mannyng's south Lincolnshire, but presents a rather careless text; Lambeth, though often more accurate, is later and in a mixed dialect. The publication of a complete and accurate transcription of the text from the Petyt manuscript is therefore of value and represents a considerable achievement, even if aspects of this edition are open to serious criticism.

Idelle Sullens presents editorial policy as a question of morality: `The attempt to reconstruct an authorial text by emending a manuscript which is not a holograph seems to me to be arrogant' (p. 12), and so with becoming modesty she prints scribal paly instead of emending to play (11.1682) and thewe rather than obviously correct threwe (II.2873). Where scribes might have written sense or nonsense, Sullens sternly opts for the latter, perhaps for fear of covertly perpetrating an emendation, as when she curiously comments, `it is possible to interpret the word in both mss. as bascardie' and so prints it (1.3706), even though she recognizes the c/t ambiguity. Such slavish fidelity to the scribes does not extend to other aspects of the transcription, for abbreviations are expanded without notice, the regular page headings and the side notes are omitted, and proper names are capitalized. The scribes' random capitalization of the initial letter of the line is made still more inconsistent by Sullens misinterpreting many of the capitals as small letters and capitalizing letters that begin a sentence. Capital F is printed as ff, a misunderstanding that had seemed to be obsolete. …

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