Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Sidrak and Bokkus: A Parallel-Text Edition from Bodleian Library, MS Laud Misc. 559 and British Library, MS Landsdowne 793

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Sidrak and Bokkus: A Parallel-Text Edition from Bodleian Library, MS Laud Misc. 559 and British Library, MS Landsdowne 793

Article excerpt

Sidrak and Bokkus: A Parallel-Text Edition from Bodleian Library, MS Laud Misc. 559 and British Library, MS Lansdowne 793, ed. T. L. Burton, Early English Text Society, OS 311, 312 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998, 1999). xcv + 941 pp.; 4 plates. ISBN 0-19-722315-X and 0-19-722316-8. L100.00 (both vols).

Heat and moisture in the grass create snails. One thousand years elapsed between the fall of Lucifer and the creation of Adam. Mankind's fairest limb is the nose. The womb consists of seven chambers, each of which may carry a foetus at the same time. Cold food stultifies the brain. There is a minimum of nine ways in which a man may become a fool. War will be with us until Doomsday. Not many people know these things, but such ignorance as may exist is easily mended by consulting Sidrak and Bokkus, a late fifteenth-century translation of a French original, available for the first time in T. L. Burton's admirable edition.

The edition consists of evidently flawless transcriptions of two complete manuscripts, representing two different versions of the text, the Laud text over 10,000 lines, the Lansdowne over 12,000. The introduction is laconic and satisfying, describing the origin, sources, and reception of the work and the English rhymed and prose translations in relation to each other and to the French original. The English translator, Hugh of Campedene, is mentioned in three manuscripts, but Burton did not find further identifying details. The introduction concludes with some apt observations on the language of the two texts and a note on editorial procedure. The commentary (pp. …

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