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Further info for the friends of scribes: The hermit in Royal 14 E III is not just copying “an older text,” he’s copying a book that Christ himself had written and personally delivered to the hermit. Christ provided the parchment and writing gear, and told the hermit to hurry up because he (Christ) was going to take his book back to heaven with him on Ascension Day. In the story, the book Christ wrote is the Estoire del Saint Graal (the text of which follows directly on this introduction), but the words the hermit is copying—“Quoniam hic est cristus” (That this is the Christ)—come from the Acts of the Apostles.
The text you provided reads "Ce livre contient Co et lxviii ff et xliiij ystoires." I googled "ce livre contient" and "ystoires" and got the Catalogue of Illuminated Mss. entry for Royal 20 A XVII, with the note that the text comes off a "fragment of an old parchment cover." It's a Roman de la Rose ms. OK, now back to real work ...
In the Vie du Prince Noir, written in the later 14th century, the author includes snail-imitation among the frivolous forms of entertainment he condemns (Chandos Herald, La Vie du Prince Noir, ed. Diana B. Tyson [Tübingen: Niemeyer, 1975]): Car combien qe homme n'en face compte Et qe homme tiendroit plus grant acompte D'un jangelour ou d'un faux menteur, D'un jogelour ou d'un bourdeur Qui voudroit faire une grimache Ou contreferoit le lymache Dount homme purroit faire un risée Qe homme ne ferroit sanz demoerée D'un autre qui saveroit bien dire! (ll. 15-24) For how much store men set And how much more heed they take Of a jangler or a false liar, Of a jongleur or a jester Who would willingly make a face Or imitate a snail, At which men can laugh, As they'll do without delay Than of someone who knows how to speak well! Does this apparently hilarious snail-imitating relate to the combats in the ms. marginalia?
Toggle Commented Sep 26, 2013 on Knight v Snail at Medieval manuscripts blog
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Sep 26, 2013