Academic journal article Medium Aevum

The Defective Version of Mandeville's 'Travels'

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

The Defective Version of Mandeville's 'Travels'

Article excerpt

The Defective Version of Mandeville's 'Travels', cd. M. C. Seymour, ERTS 319 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002). xxx + 234 pp. ISBN 0-19722322-2. £50.00.

This is the fifth appearance for Mandeville in the EETS list, following M. C. Seymour's earlier editions of the Bodley version (EETS 253) and metrical versions (EETS 269) and Hamelius' editions (EETS 153 and 154). The 'defective' version, so called because of the loss of the second quire in the oldest known English translation of the Insular text, became the dominant form of the work in England. As Seymour points out, both Chaucer and (he Pearl-poet probably encountered the Travels in this form, and it was printed in the editio princeps by Richard Pynson in the mid-i49os. The publication of this important version will thus make a substantial contribution to the field of scholarship, especially for those interested in the circulation of the Travels in England and in the Mandeville manuscript tradition.

Seymour's concise introduction includes a useful 'statement of affiliation', which offers five subgroups into which the thirty-three extant manuscripts and six fragments can be divided. These subgroups are then examined more closely in order to suggest manuscript affiliations. Seymour makes light work of the notoriously knotty problems of the Mandeville manuscripts, bringing economy and clarity to matters of orthography, collation, dialect, omission, and lacunae. …

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