The Rationale for a Copy of a Text: Constructing the Exemplar for British Library Additional MS. 10574
The three B-text manuscripts collectively known under the siglum B (Bm, Bo, and Cot) witness to a mode of manuscript production increasingly geared toward standardization and mass production of texts. The similarities in plan and execution of Bm and Bo demonstrate that their production was organized by the same stationer. The incomplete execution of Bo at the stage of correction and decoration indicates the priority of Bm. The producer of the exemplar for Bm constructed a recension of A and C text materials to patch the lacuna at the beginning of his B exemplar, basing his choice between A and C material on the conception of PPl’s form and text that by the 1400 had become standardized. Accordingly, he favors the C prologue, since it includes the belling of the cat episode, and edits a composite AC passus 2, preserving A’s reference to Luke 10:7 (A.2.134-37) in favor of C’s substitution of the story of St. Lawrence (C.2.134-42). Bm’s closest relations among the A and C texts are also the products of scribal reconstruction. The process of editing PPl witnessed by Bm argues that stationers operated as editors of the poem who routinely reproduced texts with whatever materials they could obtain most easily in accordance to a publicly available concept of what PPl should be.