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Unnoticed Extracts from Chaucer and Hoccleve: Huntington MS HM 144, Trinity College, Oxford MS D 29 and The Canterbury Tales Kate Harris Longleat House Bastd on tht ,;mplt pttm;st that all w;tntssts (tvtn arrant false witnesses) to the text of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales should be avail­ able to textual scholars and literary historians alike, the following study seeks also to contribute to the understanding of the reception of Chaucer's work at the close of the Middle Ages. The two manuscripts under consideration here may be viewed against the background of late-medieval monastic book production and particularly monastic history writing of this period: in fact, the unique, bizarre, composite history in one of the volumes concerned could with justice be described as belonging both to the close and the nadir of the latter proud tradi­ tion. This article will thus focus not so much on the alterity of the medieval text but on the alterity of one late-medieval monastic reader of Chaucer. It will also show incidentally the effect in these two manuscripts of the infiltration of Chaucer's discourse by that of the reader's preferred genre, the fifth columnist in this case being the preachment or sermon. Trinity College, Oxford MS D 29 and the much better known San Marino, Huntington Library HM 144 are written in the same idio­ syncratic, late fifteenth-century hybrida and seem to derive from an Augustinian house in southeast England. As might be expected, they have a number of further features in common: in their layout, size, rul­ ing, irregularity of quiring (irregularity involving the reconciliation of quarto and folio formats), multiplicity of watermarks, and simplicity of programs of decoration, the two manuscripts mirror each other. (The fact that they do not share any of their many watermarks is suggestive 167 STUDIES IN THE AGE OF CHAUCER of some separation in their dates of production.) As was remarked in the preliminary account of the Trinity manuscript in my essay "John Gower's Confessio Amantis: The Virtues of Bad Texts,"1 the two volumes share two sources, Caxton's edition of the Polychronicon and, as it is the purpose of this article to describe, Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. 2 (Caxton's edition of Trevisa dates after 2 July 1482 and thus provides a terminus post quem for the two collections.3) The pair of manuscripts differ widely, however, in that the Huntington volume, which is fascicular in its structure, presents a sequence of distinct short items, while the Trinity volume contains a complex (and rebarbative) prose cento, an agglomer­ ation of extracts from many sources assembled to form a prose history beginning with the time of Adam and now ending defectively with that 1 Derek Pearsall, ed., Manuscripts and Readers in Fifteenth-Century England: The Literary Implications of Manuscript Studies (Woodbridge: D. S. Brewer, 1983), pp. 27--40 (see pp. 31-33; the essay was based on a paper read at the first York Manuscript Conference, held in 1981). For further notice ofthe Trinity manuscript see pp. 67-75 in my D.Phil. thesis, "Ownership and Readership: Studies in the Provenance of Gower's Confessio Amantis" (University ofYork, 1993). I have completed a full description ofthe Trinity manuscript (including a full breakdown ofthe sources used) scheduled to appear in Jeremy Griffiths, Kate Harris, and Derek Pearsall, A Descriptive Catalogue of the Manuscripts ofthe Works ofjohn Gower, forthcoming. 2 For HM 144 see J. M. Manly and Edith Rickert, The Text ofthe Canterbury Tales, 8 vols. (Chicago: University ofChicago Press, 1940), 1:289-94 (a minor correction to this description appears in Daniel W. Mosser, "Manly and Rickert's Collation ofHuntington Library Manuscript HM 144 (Hn)," Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America 79 (1985): 235--40); see furtherJoseph Lauritis et al., eds.,A Critical Edition of John Lydgate's "Life of Our Lady" (Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press, 1961), pp. 42--43; Ralph Hanna III,A Handlist of Middle English Prose in the Henry E. Huntington Library, The Index ofMiddle English Prose, Handlist I (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 1984), pp. 17-20; C. W. Dutschke, Guide to Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the Huntington Library, (San Marino, Calif.: The...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1949-0755
Print ISSN
0190-2407
Pages
pp. 167-199
Launched on MUSE
2018-01-03
Open Access
No
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