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“Very Like A Whale”?: Physical Features And The “Whole Book” In Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Laud Misc. 108

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Chapter Summary

Hamlet's dialogue with Polonius about the debatable shapes of clouds can be an apt metaphor for codicological analyses of medieval manuscripts such as Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Laud Misc. 108 (L). The author's interest in this chapter is in layout and decoration at the beginnings and endings of texts in the manuscript, including titles, incipits, large colored initials, display script, contemporary numbering, and blank folios. The chapter lets the physical features of L lead, in an exploration of selected cruces, toward the "unity in multeity" of this manuscript. It proceeds on a third conviction that no one scholar can comprehend the whole collection. After a proposed narrative of the compiling of L, the author begins with attention to the sometimes puzzling variety of individual manuscript features in L. The author discusses particular cruces in the extent and kinds of decoration in relation to the structure of the whole collection.

Keywords: Bodleian library; Laud Misc; Oxford



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