Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Bodleian Library Quarto Catalogues IX: Digby Manuscripts

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Bodleian Library Quarto Catalogues IX: Digby Manuscripts

Article excerpt

W. D. Macray, Bodleian Library Quarto Catalogues LV. Digby Manuscripts, rev. R. W. Hunt and A. G. Watson (Oxford: Bodleian Library, 1999). 287 (partly columns) + xiii + 196 pp. ISBN 1-85124-056-X. L60.00.

This is the second of the Bodleian's reprintings of the `Quarto catalogues', the Library's nineteenth-century descriptions of its collections. (W. D. Macray originally published his account of the Digby manuscripts in 1993.) It succeeds the late Richard Hunt's revision of the Laudian catalogue 0973), and it is generally conceived on the same model: a photographic reproduction supplemented by a section of notes to update the original descriptions. Hunt's efforts with Laud remain immensely useful; his notes for Digby, here supplemented and brought to completion by Andrew G. Watson, are of another order of magnitude.

Thus, although having Macray reproduced is important, the Hunt-Watson annotations are what counts. Macray's editors have taken a Victorian document, conceived to meet the needs of that era, and thoroughly transformed it into a book excellent by the standards of the twenty-first century. R. A. B. Mynors's Balliol catalogue (1963) fundamentally revolutionized the conception of an adequate manuscript/collection description. Insofar as it is possible through annotation (rather than complete overhaul), Hunt and Watson have made Macray's work useful in a post-Mynors context. In the presence of these riches, Hunt's earlier effort with Laud appears only cosmetic.

Like other Victorian cataloguers, Macray gave nearly all his attention to listing contents. Of course, he indicated the number of folios, made an assessment of date, and often noted past owners. …

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