Academic journal article Medium Aevum

The Mirroure of the Worlde: A Middle English Translation of the Miroir Du Monde

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

The Mirroure of the Worlde: A Middle English Translation of the Miroir Du Monde

Article excerpt

The Mirroure of the Worlde: A Middle English Translation of the Miroir du monde, ed. Robert R. Raymo and Elaine E. Whitaker (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2003). x + 644 pp. ISBN 0-8020-3613-9. $85.00/£55.00. Not to be confused with other late-medieval and early modern 'Mirror' texts is The Mirroure of the Worlde, a fifteenth-century manual of moral instruction for laymen. This substantial piece (13,000 lines) of Middle English prose belongs amongst the legions of vernacular texts produced in response to Pecham's requirement that both clergy and laity should possess at least the rudiments of theological knowledge. It contains an exposition of the Commandments and the Creed, an explanation of the vices, and two treatises on virtue, separate elements which are arranged into a single series of chapters. In its organization the Mirroure resembles other late Middle English texts such as the Orcherd of Syon and Contemplations of the Dread and Love of God, and like these works it seems designed both to promote flexibility of use and to guide the individual, probably inexperienced, reader.

This edition of The Mirroure of the Worlde by Robert R. Raymo and Elaine E. Whitaker is all the more important since its French sources, Le Miroir du monde and La Somme le roi, are not so accessible. Editing such a long text is no mean undertaking. The editors are helped by the fact that the Mirroure exists in a single manuscript, so there are no variant readings to collate and textual notes can be kept to a minimum. Editing from a single witness brings its own challenges, but the editors can rely on the text's origins as a translation and many of their explanatory notes are based on comparisons with the French original, even though they are unable to identify the translator's source manuscript. …

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