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Title: A critical edition of Caxton's The Art and Craft to Know Well to Die and Ars Moriendi together with the antecedent manuscript material
Author: Morgan, Gerald Raymond
ISNI:       0000 0001 3420 6435
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 1973
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The following thesis seeks to make available sound critical texts of three fifteenth-century English versions of the 'Ars Moriendi' - 'The Book of the Craft of Dying,' Caxton's 'Art and Craft to Know Well to Die' (1490) and his 'Ars Moriendi' (1491). Of these three versions the fullest, most readable and most significant is 'The Book of the Craft of Dying', so that the balance of the thesis (which began as an edition of the two printed texts) has had to be adjusted somewhat in order to reflect that significance. 'The Book of the Craft of Dying' has been edited twice before, by C. Horstman, 'Yorkshire Writers', ii (London, 1896), 406-20, and by F. M N. Comper, 'The Book of the Craft of Dying' (London, 1917), 1-47. Horstman's edition takes MS. Rawl. C.894 as the copy-text, although that manuscript appears to be itself a direct copy of MS. Royal 17 C.xviii. In the present century at least four (and possibly five) more manuscripts containing 'The Book of the Craft of Dying' have been discovered, and they enable us to reconstruct a text that is a good deal more authoritative than any that Horstman could have envisaged. The present text is based upon a full collation of all the eleven extant manuscripts that are accessible. The copy-text is MS. Bodley 423 (not known to Horstman), and this has been corrected in the light of the whole body of material variation exhibited by the extant manuscripts. A complete record of the material variation is provided in the footnotes to the text, (giving at each point all the substantive evidence for the reading of the archetype). Comper also chose MS. Bodley 423 as copy-text, but simply, it would seem, on palaeographical grounds. It was not her intention, however, to do more than provide a modernised transciption of that manuscript. No modern edition of the two Caxton texts has as yet been produced, apart from the modernised transcriptions in Comper (1917), 53-88, 91-101. For the present edition the four copies of the 'Art and Craft' have been collated and typographical errors corrected. The Bodleian copy of the 'Ars Moriendi' is unique, and it has only been necessary, therefore, to correct clear typographical errors. These three texts, together with Notes and Glossaries, constitute vol. ii of the present work. The Notes aim at clarifying some major ambiguities and obscurities in the texts in the light of the readings of two copies of the Latin original and, in the cace of the 'Art and craft,' of two French translations, Some attempt is also made in the Notes to indicate the sources of the original. Such a description of sources remains to some extent incomplete, although the principal debts of the author of the Latin 'Ars Moriendi' seem to be sufficiently well established. The three glossaries which accompany the respective texts are selective, but attempt to provide a systematic record of all words and meanings that are now obsolete. [Continues in thesis]
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available