Modern to Middle English translation

March 9, 2014
Early English Bible

The unique Middle English prose life of Alexander the Great (the prose Alexander) is the first item in Lincoln Cathedral Library MS. 91 (Lincoln Thornton), a miscellany of religious, historical, pragmatic, and romantic pieces. Although the "control" of the hand varies, sometimes from leaf to leaf, the prose Alexander is written in the same hand as the rest of the manuscript. This hand was also responsible for what is now British Library MS. Additional 31042 (London Thornton). The London Thornton and the Lincoln Thornton preserve our only extant versions of a number of texts. In the Lincoln Thornton are the prose Alexander and the alliterative Morte while the London Thornton contains the Quatrefoil of Love, the Parlement of the Thre Ages, and Wynnere and Wastoure.My intention in producing an edition of the text of the prose Alexander was to use the technology available to me to produce a clean, diplomatic, lightly emended printed version of a handwritten work. In producing a reasonable representation of the scribal artifact, I hope to further understanding of the production of this particular manuscript book, of manuscript-book production in late medieval England, of the education of English society in the later Middle Ages, and of textual transmission that accounts for the scribal form and defers the authorial form to scholarly, but still speculative, interpretation. My interpretation of the text, in the form of a Modern English translation, has been subordinated to the representation of the Middle English text.One of my primary concerns in reproducing Thornton's manuscript was manipulability. By this, I mean the ability of a text to be used confidently to: create different versions (interpretations) of this text, collect language usage data and/or linguistic data, compile codicological data, make comparative studies, ad infinitum. Therefore, I have tried to maintain a low profile as an editor and with few exceptions to reproduce the notations-alphabet, abbreviations, punctuation, and spacing-as carefully as possible for future research as well as for the preservation of a scribal and literary artifact.

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