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Open Access Introduction

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Chapter Summary

This is the introductory chapter of the book, which describes the secrets of alchemical writing, thought and practice through an investigation of Middle English alchemical poetry. The book identifies and explores a previously unidentified corpus of alchemical verse, a noteworthy part of the extant written record of alchemy hitherto neglected in scholarship. The studies in the book present an alternative, corpus-based approach to the history of alchemy, to complement and intersect with narratives focusing on, for example, individuals and institutions. The book introduces the corpus around the "Verses upon the Elixir" and delivers case studies on particularly interesting aspects of its creation, circulation and reception. Each case study is self-contained and focuses on a different theme of alchemical literature and manuscript production. The chapter presents an overview of how other chapters of the book are organised.

Keywords: manuscript production; Middle English alchemical poetry



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