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Revisiting the Manuscripts of Perceval and the Continuations: Publishing practices and authorial transition

journal contribution
posted on 2023-07-26, 13:34 authored by Leah Tether
This article revisits the manuscripts of Chrétien de Troyes’s Perceval and its Continuations with a view to reassessing the nature of the visible demarcations of authorial transition between the texts. First, it opens with an examination of the question as to whether it is justifiable to talk of a publishing trade in the Middle Ages. Through a discussion of existing scholarship on publishing prior to the print age, as well as a series of specific examples from medieval texts, the first section of the study puts forward an argument in favour of the term’s adoption in relation to medieval literature. Second, by then applying publishing and paratextual theory to the manuscripts of Perceval and the Continuations, using a theoretical framework influenced by Gérard Genette and others, it provides a re-evaluation of the current understanding of the relationships between these texts, as well as a reconsideration of how we might now perceive their reception amongst medieval audiences. Methodologically, it does this by means of a detailed analysis of the various ways in which all of the boundaries of authorship within the entire corpus of extant manuscripts were demarcated as part of the process of publication, considering the form, function and purpose of each example. Finally, given the new light shed on these texts by the analysis, and the resulting enrichment of our insights into their contemporary reception, the article argues for the benefit of utilising approaches to medieval literature such as this more broadly, such that the focus is no longer solely on the reader, but also on the publisher.



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Journal of the International Arthurian Society




De Gruyter


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ARCHIVED Faculty of Arts, Law & Social Sciences (until September 2018)

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