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Thesis University of Iceland > Hugvísindasvið > Meistaraprófsritgerðir - Hugvísindasvið >

Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1946/6060

Title: 
  • Footnotes on life. Marginalia in three medieval Icelandic manuscripts
Submitted: 
  • September 2010
Abstract: 
  • This project investigates what paratextual material—specifically marginalia—
    can tell us about the way medieval Icelandic readers felt about their books, and how
    they participated in the creation of the reading experience for future readers through the
    marks they left on the page. This branch of Material Philology is shedding light on
    reading and literary practices across medieval Europe, but within the realm of Icelandic
    literature much still remains to be uncovered.
    This thesis discusses and provides a transcription of the marginalia in three
    particular medieval Icelandic manuscripts, focusing first and foremost on a little-noted
    Jónsbók manuscript: Rask 72a. This book contains a fairly extensive collection of
    comments by the scribe on his environment and equipment, all written into the margins.
    I argue that the scribe was led to record such comments in the margins because of the
    specifically written (and therefore specifically physical) nature of the Jónsbók law
    code, which is quite different from the sagas or eddas that had at least some roots in the
    oral history tradition.
    As a supplement to this discussion of the Jónsbók manuscript, I also examine
    AM 604 4to (a manuscript of rímur) and AM 433a 12mo (Margrétar saga). This
    secondary investigation provides a broader basis for the discussion of Icelandic book
    culture. I argue, for instance, that the extensive recording of proverbs in AM 604
    indicates a certain awareness of the manuscript as an archival force—a lasting physical
    artifact instead of simply a record to prompt oral performance in reading. The presence
    of such collections of deliberately-formulated marginalia in all three manuscripts
    indicates a certain consonance of attitude toward these three very different kinds of
    books: on some level conscious or unconscious, the scribes were aware of the physical,
    enduring nature of their material as much as they were of the value of the text, and at
    the same time they participated in the creation of future reading experiences by
    inscribing themselves on the page.

Accepted: 
  • Feb 1, 2011
URI: 
  • http://hdl.handle.net/1946/7463


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