Title Background

Divisions Collaboration and Other Topics: The Table of Contents in Cambridge, Collaboration and Other Topics: The Table of Contents in Cambridge, University Library, MS Gg.4.31

Divisions Collaboration and Other Topics: The Table of Contents in Cambridge, Collaboration and Other Topics: The Table of Contents in Cambridge, University Library, MS Gg.4.31

Cambridge, University Library, MS Gg.4.31 is a sixteenth-century manuscript of the B version of PPl (sigil G), unique in that the text of the poem is followed by a table of contents. This essay examines the way this table divides up the text, and further considers what the form and emphases of the table can suggest about its compilation and authorship. The divisions of the poem recorded in the table include not only the familiar passus breaks and the Visio and Vita sections, but also divisions into chapters. These additional breaks appear to reflect a wish to draw the reader’s attention to transitional points in the narrative which the more traditional divisions fail to highlight, points of transition involving not just changes in subject matter, or important moments of plot development, but also changes in the mode of literary discourse. Each new chapter has a heading in the table, but the compiler of the table, nevertheless, unlike Crowley, does not attempt to provide a summary. Only particular topics are recorded and the choice of these is not straightforward. The table shows evidence, in fact, of being a work in progress, with the result that the degree of attention paid to certain topics (e.g., prophecy) decreases as the table progresses. Further evidence of the compiler’s second thoughts is found in the unstable relationship between marginal annotations and folio numbers on the one hand and the material in the body of the table on the other. The matter is further complicated by the fact that the table’s compilation may well have involved more than one person. There is no evidence that table topics such as the unquestionable goodness of God and the problem of personal salvation were anything other than concerns of the main scribe, but the inclusion of material on prophecy and clerical wrong-doing may well have been influenced by WH, an annotator involved in the preparation of the manuscript who adds marginal comments on these topics to the main text and, once, to the table. G’s table of contents is thus a complex creation, a work in progress, influenced by more than one person. (JAJ)

Volume

in Burrow and Duggan, Medieval Alliterative Poetry, pp. 140-52.

Author

Jefferson, Judith A.