Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Of Shrifte and Penance: The ME Prose Translation of the 'Manuel Des Peches'

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Of Shrifte and Penance: The ME Prose Translation of the 'Manuel Des Peches'

Article excerpt

Klaus Bitterling, Of Sb?ifte and Penance: The ME Prose Translation of the `Manuel derpeches', Middle English Texts 29 (Heidelberg: Winter, 1998). 232 pp. ISBN 3-8253-0586-4. DM ioS.oo. Of Shrifte and Penance, a Middle English prose translation of the anonymous Anglo-Norman Manuel des peches (12 50-70), is here published for the first time (there are two unpublished Ph.D. dissertation editions of the text; see bibliography). Of Shrifte and Penance survives in a unique fifteenth-century manuscript: Cambridge, St John's College, G.3o, in which the text is entitled he Manuel of Zynnes. The translator, who also remains anonymous, was clearly unaware of Robert Mannyng's own verse translation, Handlyng Synne.

The translation itself (1380-1400?) closely renders the French text Bitterling calls it a `stencil translation' (p. 20) - but lacks book vi (the Petit Sermun) of the Anglo-Norman, and inserts the epilogue before the last book. (In discussing the Petit Sermun's sources, Bitterling falsely assimilates the Liber de modo bene vivendi to the Meditationes piissimae de cognitione humanae conditionis (P. 13). Both works were wrongly attributed to St Bernard.) Nevertheless, Of Shrifte and Penance is a much more complete version than Handlyng Synne, which represents only half of the original work. Our text considers the Articles of the Faith, the Ten Commandments, the Seven Deadly Sins, the Sin of Sacrilege, the Seven Sacraments, the Points of Shrift, the Power of Prayer, and concludes with Prayers to Christ and the Virgin. …

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