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Open Access Authorship, Authority and Alchemical Verse

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Authorship, Authority and Alchemical Verse

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Chapter Summary

Concepts of authorship and attribution practices relating to the corpus around the "Verses upon the Elixir" are distant relatives of the Scriptural tradition in some respects. Authorial attributions for the poem "Verses upon the Elixir" provide a concrete example of motivations and implementations of attribution in Middle English alchemical poetry. While authorship did not equal authority in the late medieval period, and only few names of manuscript users were recorded over time, the genre of Middle offers a different, comparatively consistent approach to the issue of authoritativeness in the history of alchemy. A brief look at the circulation of the "Verses upon the Elixir" and its Latin translation in manuscripts testifies to the fact that, the poem did not depend on an authoritative name for popularity. The tendency to associate a named personality with authority increased in the later periods of the corpus' history.

Keywords: authority; authorship; late medieval period; Latin translation; manuscripts; Middle English alchemical poetry



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