Bounté des Femmes – Edition by Davide Battagliola

Edition by Davide Battagliola

Development by Elisa Nury

The Manuscript

The Anglo-Norman dit known as Bounté des femmes (end of XIII century) is a poem in favour of women, where the author presents himself as a lawyer trying to persuade a hypothetical judge. This work is transmitted by two manuscripts: Cambridge, University Library, Gg.1.1. (U) and Cambridge, St John’s College Library, G.5 (J). Previous studies regarded U as the most reliable witness, in opposition to J. In my Master dissertation, I have shown that in fact the scribe of U has massively altered the text of his model: that’s why we can find a huge number of interpolations in this version of the poem; on the other hand, J appears to be a far more reliable witness, despite its late dating. Furthermore, I have studied the relationship between the Bounté des femmes and another pro-women work, De un vaslet qui soutint dames e dammaiseles, transmitted by the manuscript Digby 86 of the Bodleian Library in Oxford. Charity Meier-Ewert, who studied this codex for her PhD dissertation, affirmed that some 60 verses of the Vaslet had been incorporated in the Bounté des femmes. In my dissertation I explain that the poem transmitted by the Oxford manuscript is actually a shorter (and probably slightly earlier) redaction of the same work.

The Digital Edition

First of all, this project have given me the opportunity of showing that it was possibile to provide a reconstructive edition of Bounté des femmes despite the remarkable differences between the witnesses. I have decided to focus myself on the longer redaction of the work, without taking into account the Oxford version.

For the reasons given above, the base for my edition was J; yet the reader can easily appreciate the complex (and maybe more interesting) version of U. Indeed, a parallel texts view will allow the reader to pinpoint where the scribe of U has more more blatantly intervened on the text.

The complete digital reproductions of both manuscripts are also available by clicking on the page break links: thanks to this tool, the reader can compare U’s elegant decorations with the plain setup of J.

When it comes to the insular poetical production, a particular attention for prosody aspects is strictly needed. That’s why hypo- and hyper-metric verses have been highlighted in red in the critical text view; feminine eptasyllables, considered one of the prominent feature of the “notorious” Anglo-Norman prosody, were marked in a different way.

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