This article examines the place of Passion devotion and, in particular, the metaphor of Christ’s blood as ink within the broader context of affective reading practices in late medieval France. Christ’s blood as ink crops up as a recurring theme in the later Middle Ages, especially for women mystics, as relating to the Passion and stigmata of Christ. Although the development of this motif in England—in terms of charters, for example—was not matched on the continent, it nevertheless obtained a place in the devotional experience of laywomen as a way to approach Christ and, more broadly, as a prominent technique of affective devotion. This essay explores these reading practices through a brief summary of English and continental usages of the metaphor and then through two manuscript case studies: BnF fr. 874 and Musée Dobrée XVII. BnF fr. 874, containing Octovien de Saint-Gelais’s translation of Ovid’s Heroides, presents primarily heroines writing fictional letters to their absent male lovers. Musée Dobrée XVII, a collection of biblical, antique, and contemporary female biographies, is a translation/adaptation of Boccaccio’s De mulieribus Claris and Giacomo Filipo Foresti da Bergamo’s De plurimis claris selectisque mulieribus made for Anne de Bretagne. These two manuscripts are examples of secular rather than devotional works that reference the metaphor of Christ’s blood as ink to encourage in their readers both an imagined participation in the narratives and a very real material interaction with the codices themselves.


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pp. 228-250
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