Composing, Writing, Preserving

Composing, Writing, Preserving

This section celebrates the variety of romance materials in the Bodleian Library, the evidence they give about medieval writers and audiences, and the ongoing work involved in conserving them for future readers. Some romances present themselves as a minstrel performance, others as a work of scholarly compilation. Either of these scenarios, however, can be part of the genre’s repertoire of framing fictions. The wider evidence that we have points to a rich variety of translation, authorship, oral and memorial transmission, and scribal adaptation, catering for diverse readers or hearers.

Romances did not usually have the cachet of religious or scholarly books. Many manuscripts containing romances were discarded as printed books became the norm, in the destruction of monastic libraries during the Reformation of the sixteenth century, or they simply wore out from repeated use. The fact that we have a body of material that we can study and enjoy today is due to several factors: extraordinary individual collectors, such as Elias Ashmole and Francis Douce (whose books are featured here); chance survivals as unlikely as many romance plots; and to the vision of institutions such as the Bodleian Library, which has bought, acquired and preserved many thousands of manuscripts and early printed books over centuries.

Origin Stories
Origin Stories
Romance and the Medieval World
Romance and the Medieval World
Truth, Deceit and Desire
Truth, Deceit and Desire
Empires of Romance: Arthur
Empires of Romance: Arthur
Empires of Romance: Alexander
Empires of Romance: Alexander
The Objects of Romance
The Objects of Romance
Cities under Siege
Cities under Siege
Strange Encounters
Strange Encounters
The Fortunes of Sir Gawain
The Fortunes of Sir Gawain
Composing, Writing, Preserving
Composing, Writing, Preserving
The Percy Folio
The Percy Folio
Routes of Romance I
Routes of Romance I
Routes of Romance II
Routes of Romance II
Romance and the Modern World
Romance and the Modern World