Symbolic Caxton : Literary Culture and Print Capitalism [1 ed.] 9780268084561, 9780268033170

Explores the introduction of printing in symbolic terms. This book presents literary history in which the fifteenth cent

223 32 7MB

English Pages 417 Year 2008

Report DMCA / Copyright

DOWNLOAD FILE

Polecaj historie

Symbolic Caxton : Literary Culture and Print Capitalism [1 ed.]
 9780268084561, 9780268033170

Citation preview

Kuskin FM

11/15/07

9:18 AM

Page i

Symbolic Caxton

Kuskin FM

11/15/07

9:18 AM

Page ii

Kuskin FM

11/15/07

9:18 AM

Page iii

Symbolic

AXTON Literary Culture and Print Capitalism

WILLIAM KUSKIN

University of Notre Dame Press Notre Dame, Indiana

Kuskin FM

11/15/07

9:18 AM

Page iv

Copyright © 2007 by University of Notre Dame Notre Dame, Indiana 46556 www.undpress.nd.edu All Rights Reserved Manufactured in the United States of America

Frontispiece. Caxton’s device. The Eneydos, L7v. Printed by William Caxton, Westminster, 1490 (STC 24796). British Library IB.55135. By permission of the British Library.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Kuskin, William. Symbolic Caxton : literary culture and print capitalism / William Kuskin. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. isbn-13: 978-0-268-03317-0 (pbk. : alk. paper) isbn-10: 0-268-03317-x (pbk. : alk. paper) 1. Caxton, William, ca. 1422–1491. 2. Printing—England—History— Origin and antecedents. 3. Book industries and trade—England— History—To 1500. 4. Books and reading—England—History—To 1500. 5. England—Civilization—1066–1485. I. Title. z232.c38k88 2007 686.209—dc22 2007033007 This book is printed on recycled paper.

Kuskin FM

11/15/07

9:18 AM

Page v

Contents

List of Illustrations

vii

Acknowledgments

xi

Works Cited in Short Form

xv

Introduction A Theory of Literary Reproduction

PA RT I

1

Capital and Literary Form

Chapter One Affixing Value: The Bibliography of Material Culture

29

Book Buying: Consumption in the (Post)modern Library Book Selling: Production in Caxton’s Chamber The Printer’s Mark: The Bibliography of Material Culture

Chapter Two Reading Caxton: Capital and the Alchemical Logic of the Press The Fourmes of Commerce The Besynes of Patronage Posting Bills: Multiplying the Signs of Capital

81

Kuskin FM

11/15/07

9:18 AM

PA RT I I

Page vi

Authorship and the Chaucerian Inheritance

Chapter Three Chaucerian Inheritances: The Transformation of Lancastrian Literary Culture into the English Canon

117

Beginning at the End: Chaucer’s Retraction and the Cycle of Reproduction Profitable Impressions: Literary Reproduction as Social Reproduction Caxton’s 1483 Prologue to Chaucer and the History of the Book

Chapter Four Uninhabitable Chaucer: Patronage and the Commerce in the Self

155

Anthony Woodville and the Problem with Patronage Christine de Pizan and the Demand for Gender Patronage as Mass Production

PA RT I I I

Print and Social Organization

Chapter Five Caxton’s Worthies Series: Fifteenth-Century Imagined Communities

193

The Structure of Spontaneity The Production of Literary Authority Reading the Subject of Desire

Chapter Six Vernacular Humanism: Fifteenth-Century Self-Fashioning and the State-Crowned Laureates 236 Dido Overdetermined The Laureate System

Epilogue The Archival Imagination (or What Goodes Has to Say)

284

Notes

299

Index

368

vi c o n t e n t s

Kuskin FM

11/15/07

9:18 AM

Page vii

Illustrations

Frontispiece Caxton’s device. The Eneydos, L7 v. Printed by William Caxton, Westminster, 1490 (STC 24796). British Library IB.55135. By permission of the British Library. ii Figure 1.1 “Chaucer Fetches £4.6m,” The Times, Thursday, July 9, 1998, Home News, 3. By permission of the News International Syndication Ltd. 40 Figure 1.2 The print shop. La grante danse macabre des homes et des femmes, b. Printed by Matthias Hus, Lyons, 1499. British Library IB. 41735. By permission of the British Library. 45 Figure 1.3 Johannes Fust and Peter Schoeffer’s device. Justinian I, Institutiones. Printed by Peter Schoeffer, Mainz, 1476 (ISTC ij00512000). Bridwell Library Special Collections 06418a. By permission of the Bridwell Library Special Collections, Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University. 51 Figure 1.4 The Schoolmaster’s device. St. Albans Chronicle, K9. Printed by the St. Albans Schoolmaster Printer, St. Albans, c. 1485 (STC 9995). By permission of University of Chicago Library, Special Collections Research Center. 57 Figure 1.5 The “tractys in armys.” Boke of St. Albans, 2e6v. Printed by the St. Albans Schoolmaster Printer, St. Albans, c. 1485 (STC 3308). British Library IB.55712. By permission of the British Library. 63

vii

Kuskin FM

11/15/07

9:18 AM

Page viii

Figure 1.6 The “Saltori a maner of a cros.” Boke of St. Albans, 2f4 v. Printed by the St. Albans Schoolmaster Printer, St. Albans, c. 1485 (STC 3308). British Library IB.55712. By permission of the British Library. 64 Figure 1.7 Johannes de Colonia’s and Nicolas Jenson’s device. Lectura super Clementinas. Printed by Johannes de Colonia and Nicolas Jenson, Venice, 1481. British Library IC.20368. By permission of the British Library. 66 Figure 1.8 Wynkyn de Worde’s device. Robert Whittington, Syntaxis, G4v. Printed by Wynkyn de Worde, London, 1520 (STC 25547). British Library C.40.e.1.(5.). By permission of the British Library. 68 Figure 1.9 Johannes Froben’s device ( by Ambrosius Holbein). Desiderius Erasmus, Moriae Encomium. Printed by Johannes Froben, Basle, 1519. British Library 1080.k.3. By permission of the British Library. 69 Figure 1.10 Guillaume Le Tailleur’s device. Nicholas Statham, Abridgment des libres annales, z7v. Printed by Guillaume Le Tailleur (for Richard Pynson), Rouen, 1490 (STC 23238). British Library IB.43928. By permission of the British Library. 71 Figure 1.11 Richard Pynson’s device. Geoffrey Chaucer, Canterbury Tales, k5v. Printed by Richard Pynson, St. Clement Danes, c. 1492 (STC 5084). British Library G.11588. By permission of the British Library. 72 Figure 1.12 Robert Redman’s device. The Boke of Magna Carta with Diuers other Statues, f. 200v. Printed by Robert Redman, London, 1534 (STC 9272). British Library C.112.a.6. By permission of the British Library. 73 Figure 2.1 London merchants’ export trade in wool and broadcloths from 1459 through 1471 as recorded in enrolled customs and subsidy accounts. 84

viii i l l u s t r at i o n s

Kuskin FM

11/15/07

9:18 AM

Page ix

Figure 2.2 Total English export trade in wool and broadcloths as recorded in enrolled customs and subsidy accounts in three-year averages from 1453 through 1479. 89 Figure 2.3 Dedicatory engraving. Raoul Le Fèvre, Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye, frontispiece. Translated and printed by William Caxton, Bruges, 1473/74 (STC 15375). H. E. Huntington Library, San Marino, RB 62222. By permission of the Huntington Library, San Marino, California. 98 Figure 2.4 Miniature by the Master of Mary of Burgundy. Jena De consolatione, Jena MS El.F.85. By permission of Thüringer Universitäts und Landesbibliothek. 101 Figure 2.5 The Monkey Cup. Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Cloisters Collection, 1952. 52.50. Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 103 Figure 2.6 Caxton’s Advertisement. Printed by William Caxton, Westminster, c. 1477 (STC 4890). Douce, frag.e.I. By permission of the Bodleian Library, University of Oxford. 104 Figure 3.1 The Retraction. Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales, f. 372v. Printed by William Caxton, Westminster, 1476/77 (STC 5082). British Library IB.55009. By permission of the British Library. 128 Figure 3.2 The General Prologue. Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales, C3v. Printed by William Caxton, Westminster, 1483 (STC 5083). IB.55094. By permission of the British Library. 141 Figure 4.1 Miniature, Dictes and Sayings of the Philosophers, Lambeth Palace Library, MS 265, 1v. By permission of Lambeth Palace Library, London/ Bridgeman Art Library. 170

i l l u s t r at i o n s ix

Kuskin FM

11/15/07

9:18 AM

Page x

Figure 6.1 John Skelton, “Upon the Dolorus Dethe.” British Library MS Royal 18.D.ii., 166. By permission of the British Library. 271 Figure 6.2 John Skelton, “Upon the Dolorus Dethe.” British Library MS Royal 18.D.ii., 166v. By permission of the British Library. 273 Figure 6.3 John Skelton, “Upon the Dolorus Dethe.” British Library MS Royal 18.D.ii., 165. By permission of the British Library. 274 Figure 6.4 The Eneydos, A1. Translated and printed by William Caxton, Westminster, 1490 (STC 24796). British Library IB.55135. By permission of the British Library. 280 Figure E.1 John Skot’s device. Everyman, D4v. Printed by John Skot, London, 1535 (STC 10606.5). By permission of the British Library. 291 Figure E.2 Pynson’s device. The Boke of John Maunduyle, kivv. Printed by Richard Pynson, London, 1496 (STC 17246). British Library G.6713. By permission of the British Library. 292 Figure E.3 Everyman, pa.i. Printed by John Skot, London, 1535 (STC 10606.5). By permission of the British Library. 294

x i l l u s t r at i o n s

Kuskin FM

11/15/07

9:18 AM

Page xi

Acknowledgments

Symbolic Caxton is meant to accompany Caxton’s Trace: Studies in the History of English Printing, a collection of essays on the impact of fifteenthcentury printing including pieces by David R. Carlson, Mark Addison Amos, Jennifer F. Goodman, A. E. B. Coldiron, Alexandra Gillespie, William N. West, Patricia Clare Ingham, Tim William Machan, and Seth Lerer, also published by the University of Notre Dame Press. If Caxton’s Trace sought to articulate some of the implications of fifteenthcentury printing, Symbolic Caxton is my own attempt to think through the dynamic nature of fifteenth-century culture at the last quarter of the century, a period I believe is underexplored in comparison with other literary periods. The experience of working with the contributors to Caxton’s Trace and studying their ideas makes me indebted to them in this, my solo effort. It is to them that I give my first thanks. I would also like to thank the Oxford University Press for allowing me to reprint sections of chapter 2, which first appeared as “Reading Caxton: Transformations in Capital, Print and Persona in the Late Fifteenth Century,” New Medieval Literatures 3 (1999): 149–83, and the Johns Hopkins University Press for sections of chapter 5, which was originally printed as “Caxton’s Worthies Series: The Production of Literary Culture,” ELH 66 (1999): 511–51. This book could not have been written without the work of a number of scholars before me and without the generous support of a number of institutions and individuals. Foremost, I should very much like to thank the Bodleian, Bridwell, British, Huntington, and Stanford Libraries, as well as the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Special Collections Research Center at the University of Chicago Library. I thank the Stanford Humanities Center for a generous year-long research grant, and particularly Susan Dunn, who helped me make that year a success.

xi

Kuskin FM

11/15/07

9:18 AM

Page xii

The University of Colorado provided a last-minute grant to cover the cost of images, and I also thank John Goldfinch of the British Library for helping me assemble the various images that that library contributed to the project, as well as Lotte Hellinga, who is an inspiration. A number of scholars commented on the text, contributing both ideas and support. Bruce Holsinger has been an unflagging ally, expecting the best from me at all points and freely giving of his very limited time and unlimited knowledge. I thank him for his exceptional generosity and wonderful spirit most of all. Jennifer Summit, perhaps the critic who shares my approach most closely, helped me with long hours of conversation. Her work powerfully shaped my thinking for chapter 4. The writings and teachings of Larry Scanlon and David Lawton brought me to the study of the fifteenth century and launched my interest in fifteenthcentury literary culture. Stephen Orgel provided sage encouragement at crucial moments. At the University of Southern Mississippi a number of graduate students suffered through my thinking about Caxton as I worked it out; Leah Holmes deserves particular mention, as does one undergraduate, Melanee Slade. At the University of Colorado at Boulder, Katarzyna Rutkowski suggested an exacting finishing touch, and Theresa Cecot helped me prepare the final manuscript. Notre Dame’s two anonymous readers gave the manuscript extraordinary careful readings at a crucial stage in the book’s development, and I thank them for that. Again, I thank my editor at the University of Notre Dame Press, Barbara Hanrahan, and the production staff, Margaret A. Gloster, Wendy McMillen, Rebecca DeBoer, Katie Lehman, and Margo Shearman for seeing the book through to print. Two scholarly works stand out as shaping my thinking in powerful ways, and I would like to acknowledge my intellectual debit to them in particular. Seth Lerer’s Chaucer and His Readers and Paul Needham’s The Printer and the Pardoner come to Caxton quite differently, and both have fundamentally reshaped the field. Together they demonstrate the conceptual diversity and intellectual richness possible in the study of old books, and I have been fortunate to have had the opportunity to learn from Professor Lerer and Dr. Needham directly. They are both uncannily sharp intellectuals gifted with wonderful eloquence and powerful humor, exactly the sort of humanist bibliophiles Caxton would have wanted pestering him about some old evidences.

xii a c k n ow l e d g m e n t s

Kuskin FM

11/15/07

9:18 AM

Page xiii

Ultimately, however, two individuals shaped this book most of all: Richelle Munkhoff and Helen Kuskin. I have learned tremendously from Dr. Munkhoff’s rich feel for critical theory, deep archival sensibility, and intense understanding of how language works. At this point, Helen Kuskin is somewhat less of a scholar, but for sheer joie de vivre she cannot be beat. It is to them that I dedicate Symbolic Caxton.

William Kuskin Boulder, Colorado, 2006

a c k n ow l e d g m e n t s xiii

Kuskin FM

11/15/07

9:18 AM

Page xiv

Kuskin FM

11/15/07

9:18 AM

Page xv

Works Cited in Short Form

Althusser, “Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses.” Althusser, Louis. “Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses ( Notes Towards an Investigation).” In Lenin and Philosophy and Other Essays, translated by Ben Brewster, 127–86. New York: Monthly Review Press, 1971. Anderson, Imagined Communities. Anderson, Benedict. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. Rev. ed. London: Verso, 1991. Backhouse, et al., William Caxton: An Exhibition. Backhouse, Janet, Mirjam Foot, John Barr, and Nicolas Barker, eds. William Caxton: An Exhibition to Commemorate the Quincentenary of the Introduction of Printing to England. London: British Library, 1976. Barker, “Caxton’s Typography.” Barker, Nicolas. “Caxton’s Typography.” Journal of the Printing Historical Society 11 (1976–77): 114 –33. Bennett, English Books & Readers. Bennett, H. S. English Books & Readers 1475 to 1557. 2nd ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1969. Blades, The Life and Typography. Blades, William. The Life and Typography of William Caxton: England’s First Printer, with Evidence of his Typographical Connection with Colard Mansion. 2 vols. London: Lilly, 1861, 1863. Reprint, New York: Burt Franklin, 1965. Blake, Caxton and His World. Blake, N. F. Caxton and His World. London: André Deutsch, 1969. Blake, “Wynkyn de Worde: The Early Years.” Blake, N. F. “Wynkyn de Worde: The Early Years.” Gutenberg Jahrbuch (1971): 62–69. Blake, “Wynkyn de Worde: The Later Years.” Blake, N. F. “Wynkyn de Worde: The Later Years.” Gutenberg Jahrbuch (1972): 128–38.

xv

Kuskin FM

11/15/07

9:18 AM

Page xvi

Blake, Prose. Blake, N. F. Caxton’s Own Prose. London: André Deutsch, 1973. Blake, A Bibliographical Guide. Blake, N. F. William Caxton: A Bibliographical Guide. New York: Garland, 1985. Blake, “Lydgate and Caxton.” Blake, N. F. “John Lydgate and William Caxton.” Leeds Studies in English 16 (1985): 272–89. Blake, “The Spread of Printing.” Blake, N. F. “The Spread of Printing in English During the Fifteenth Century.” Gutenberg Jahrbuch (1987): 26–36. Reprinted in Blake, English Literary Culture, 60–63. Blake, “Aftermath.” Blake, N. F. “Aftermath: Manuscript to Print.” In Griffiths and Pearsall, Book Production, 403–32. Blake, English Literary Culture. Blake, N. F. William Caxton and English Literary Culture. London: Hambledon, 1991. Blake, Authors of the Middle Ages. Blake, N. F. William Caxton. Aldershot: Variorum, 1996. Anthologized as Authors of the Middle Ages: English Writers of the Late Middle Ages, vol. 3, nos. 7–11, edited by M. C. Seymour, 1-67. London and Brookfield, Vt.: Ashgate, 1996. Blayney, The Stationers’ Company. Blayney, Peter W. M. The Stationers’ Company Before the Charter, 1403–1557. London: The Worshipful Company of Stationers, 2003. Boffey, “Pynson’s Book of Fame.” Boffey, Julia. “Richard Pynson’s Book of Fame and the Letter to Dido.” Viator 19 (1988): 339–53. Bone, “Extant Manuscripts.” Bone, Gavin. “Extant Manuscripts of Books Printed by Wynkyn de Worde, with Notes on the Owner, Roger Thorney.” The Library ser. 4, 12 (1932): 284–306. Bornstein, “Caxton’s Chivalric Romances.” Bornstein, Diane. “William Caxton’s Chivalric Romances and the Burgundian Renaissance in England.” English Studies 57 (1976): 1–10. Brusendorff, The Chaucer Tradition. Brusendorff, Aage. The Chaucer Tradition. London: Oxford University Press, 1925.

xvi wo r k s c i t e d i n s h o rt f o r m

Kuskin FM

11/15/07

9:18 AM

Page xvii

Carlson, “King Arthur and the Court Poems.” Carlson, David R. “King Arthur and Court Poems for the Birth of Arthur Tudor in 1486.” Humanistica Lovaniensia 36–37 (1987– 88): 147–83. Carlson, English Humanist Books. Carlson, David R. English Humanist Books: Writers and Patrons, Manuscript and Print, 1475–1525. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1993. Carlson, “A Theory of the Early English Printing Firm.” Carlson, David R. “A Theory of the Early English Printing Firm: Jobbing, Book Publishing, and the Problem of Productive Capacity in Caxton’s Work.” In Kuskin, Caxton’s Trace, 35–68. Carus-Wilson, Medieval Merchant Venturers. Carus-Wilson, E. M. Medieval Merchant Venturers: Collected Studies. London: Methuen, 1954. Chartier, The Order of Books. Chartier, Roger. The Order of Books. Translated by Lydia G. Cochrane. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1994. Chaucer, The Riverside Chaucer. Chaucer, Geoffrey. The Riverside Chaucer. Edited by Larry D. Benson. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1987. Christianson, “Community.” Christianson, C. Paul. “A Community of Book Artisans in Chaucer’s London.” Viator 20 (1989): 207–18. Christianson, “Evidence.” Christianson, C. Paul. “Evidence for the Study of London’s Late Medieval Manuscript-Book Trade.” In Griffiths and Pearsall, Book Production, 87–108. Christianson, Directory. Christianson, C. Paul. A Directory of London Stationers and Book Artisans, 1300 –1500. New York: Bibliographical Society, 1990. Christianson, “The Rise of London’s Book Trade.” Christianson, C. Paul. “The Rise of London’s Book Trade.” In Hellinga and Trapp, The Cambridge History of the Book, 128–47. Connolly, John Shirley. Connolly, Margaret. John Shirley: Book Production and the Noble Household in Fifteenth-Century England. Aldershot and Brookfield, Vt.: Ashgate, 1998. Copeland, Rhetoric, Hermeneutics, and Translation. Copeland, Rita. Rhetoric, Hermeneutics, and Translation in the Middle Ages: Academic Traditions and Vernacular Texts. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991.

wo r k s c i t e d i n s h o rt f o r m xvii

Kuskin FM

11/15/07

9:18 AM

Page xviii

Corsten, “Caxton in Cologne.” Corsten, Severin. “Caxton in Cologne.” Journal of the Printing Historical Society 11 (1976–77): 1–18. Coss, “Bastard Feudalism Revised.” Coss, P. R. “Bastard Feudalism Revised.” Past and Present 125 (1989): 27–64. Coss, “The Formation of the English Gentry.” Coss, P. R. “The Formation of the English Gentry.” Past and Present 147 (1995): 38–64. Costomiris, “Sharing Chaucer’s Authority.” Costomiris, Robert. “Sharing Chaucer’s Authority in Prefaces of Chaucer’s Works from William Caxton to William Thynne.” Journal of the Early Book Society 5 (2002): 1–13. Crotch, The Prologues and Epilogues. Crotch, W. J. B. The Prologues and Epilogues of William Caxton. EETS o.s. 176. 1928. Reprint, New York: Burt Franklin, 1971. Dane, Who Is Buried in Chaucer’s Tomb? Dane, Joseph A. Who Is Buried in Chaucer’s Tomb? Studies in the Reception of Chaucer’s Book. East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 1998. Dane, The Myth of Print Culture. Dane, Joseph A. The Myth of Print Culture: Essays on Evidence, Textuality, and Bibliographical Method. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2003. Davies, Devices of the Early Printers. Davies, Hugh William. Devices of the Early Printers, 1457–1560: Their History and Development with a Chapter on Portrait Figures of Printers. 1935. Reprint, Kent: William Dawson & Sons, 1974. Desmond, Reading Dido. Desmond, Marilynn. Reading Dido: Gender, Textuality, and the Medieval Aeneid. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1994. Doyle, “William Ebesham.” Doyle, A. I. “The Work of a Late Fifteenth-Century English Scribe, William Ebesham.” Bulletin of the John Rylands Library 39 (1956–57): 298–325. Doyle and Parkes, “The Production of Copies of the Canterbury Tales.” Doyle, A. I., and M. B. Parkes. “The Production of Copies of the Canterbury Tales and the Confessio Amantis in the Early Fifteenth Century.” In Medieval Scribes, Manuscripts and Libraries: Essays Presented to N. R. Ker, edited by M. B. Parkes and A. G. Watson, 163–210. London: Scolar Press, 1978.

xviii wo r k s c i t e d i n s h o rt f o r m

Kuskin FM

11/15/07

9:18 AM

Page xix

Duff, Century. Duff, E. Gordon. A Century of the English Book Trade. 1905. Reprint, London: Bibliographical Society, 1948. Duff, The Printers, Stationers, and Bookbinders. Duff, E. Gordon. The Printers, Stationers, and Bookbinders of Westminster and London from 1476 to 1535. Cambridge: University of Cambridge, 1906. Duff, Fifteenth Century English Books. Duff, E. Gordon. Fifteenth Century English Books. London: Bibliographical Society, 1917. Duffy, The Stripping of the Altars. Duffy, Eamon. The Stripping of the Altars: Traditional Religion in England, 1400–1580. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1992. Duggan, “Reading Liturgical Books.” Duggan, Mary Kay. “Reading Liturgical Books.” In Jensen, Incunabula, 71–81. Edwards, “Continental Influences.” Edwards, A. S. G. “Continental Influences on London Printing and Reading in the Fifteenth and Early Sixteenth Centuries.” In London and Europe in the Later Middle Ages, edited by Julia Boffey and Pamela M. King, 229–56. London: University of London Queen Mary and Westfield College Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 1995. Edwards and Meale, “Marketing.” Edwards, A. S. G., and Carol M. Meale. “The Marketing of Printed Books in Late Medieval England.” The Library 6th ser., 15 (1993): 95 –124. Eisenstein, The Printing Press. Eisenstein, Elizabeth L. The Printing Press as an Agent of Change: Communications and Cultural Transformations in Early-Modern Europe. 1979. Reprint, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991. Erler, “Devotional Literature.” Erler, Mary C. “Devotional Literature.” In Hellinga and Trapp, The Cambridge History of the Book, 495–525. Febvre and Martin, The Coming of the Book. Febvre, Lucien, and Henri-Jean Martin. The Coming of the Book: The Impact of Printing 1450–1800. Translated by David Gerard. Edited by Geoffrey Nowell-Smith and David Wootton. 1976. Reprint, London and New York: Verso, 2000. Fisher, “Standard Written English.” Fisher, John H. “Chancery and the Emergence of Standard Written English in the Fifteenth Century.” Speculum 52 (1977): 870–99.

wo r k s c i t e d i n s h o rt f o r m xix

Kuskin FM

11/15/07

9:18 AM

Page xx

Fisher, “Caxton and Chancery English.” Fisher, John H. “Caxton and Chancery English.” In Fifteenth Century Studies: Recent Essays, edited by R. F. Yeager, 161–85. Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books, 1984. Fisher, “Language Policy.” Fisher, John H. “A Language Policy for Lancastrian England.” PMLA 107 (1992): 1168–80. Gairdner, The Paston Letters. Gairdner, James. The Paston Letters, A.D. 1422–1509. 1905. Reprint, New York: AMS Press, 1965. Gaskell, A New Introduction to Bibliography. Gaskell, Philip. A New Introduction to Bibliography. New York: Oxford University Press, 1972. Gill, “William Caxton and the Rebellion of 1483.” Gill, Louise. “William Caxton and the Rebellion of 1483.” English Historical Review 112 (1997): 105–18. Goodman, “Malory and Caxton’s Chivalric Series.” Goodman, Jennifer R. “Malory and Caxton’s Chivalric Series, 1481–85.” In Spisak, Studies in Malory, 257–75. Goodman, Malory and William Caxton’s Prose Romances of 1485. Goodman, Jennifer R. Malory and William Caxton’s Prose Romances of 1485. New York: Garland, 1987. Greenblatt, Renaissance Self-Fashioning. Greenblatt, Stephen. Renaissance Self-Fashioning: From More to Shakespeare. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1984. Griffith, “The Early Years of William Caxton.” Griffith, Richard R. “The Early Years of William Caxton.” In Caxton: An American Contribution to the Quincentenary Celebration, edited by Susan Otis Thomson, 20–54, New York: Typophiles, 1976. Griffiths and Pearsall, Book Production. Griffiths, Jeremy, and Derek Pearsall, eds. Book Production and Publishing in Britain, 1375–1475. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989. Guillory, Poetic Authority. Guillory, John. Poetic Authority: Spenser, Milton, and Literary History. New York: Columbia University Press, 1983. Guillory, Cultural Capital. Guillory, John. Cultural Capital: The Problem of Literary Canon Formation. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993. Hanna, Pursuing History. Hanna, Ralph, III. Pursuing History: Middle English Manuscripts and Their Texts. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1996.

xx wo r k s c i t e d i n s h o rt f o r m

Kuskin FM

11/15/07

9:18 AM

Page xxi

Harris, “The Evidence for Ownership.” Harris, Kate. “Patrons, Buyers and Owners: The Evidence for Ownership, and the Role of Book Owners in Book Production and the Book Trade.” In Griffiths and Pearsall, Book Production, 163–99. Helgerson, Self-Crowned Laureates. Helgerson, Richard. Self-Crowned Laureates: Spenser, Jonson, Milton, and the Literary System. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983. Hellinga, Caxton in Focus. Hellinga, Lotte. Caxton in Focus: The Beginning of Printing in England. London: British Library, 1982. Hellinga, “Importation of Books Printed on the Continent.” Hellinga, Lotte. “Importation of Books Printed on the Continent into England and Scotland Before c. 1520.” In Hindman, Printing the Written Word, 205–24. Hellinga, “Printing.” Hellinga, Lotte. “Printing.” In Hellinga and Trapp, The Cambridge History of the Book, 65–108. Hellinga, “Tradition and Renewal.” Hellinga, Lotte. “Tradition and Renewal: Establishing the Chronology of Wynkyn de Worde’s Early Work.” In Jensen, Incunabula, 13–30. Hellinga and Trapp, “Introduction.” Hellinga, Lotte, and J. B. Trapp. “Introduction.” In Hellinga and Trapp, The Cambridge History of the Book, 1–30. Hellinga and Trapp, The Cambridge History of the Book. Hellinga, Lotte, and J. B. Trapp, eds. The Cambridge History of the Book in Britain. Vol. 3, 1400–1557. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999. Hindman, Printing the Written Word. Hindman, Sandra L., ed. Printing the Written Word: The Social History of Books Circa 1450–1520. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1991. Hirsch, Printing, Selling and Reading. Hirsch, Rudolf. Printing, Selling and Reading, 1450–1550. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 1967. Imray, “Les Bones Gentes de la Mercerye de Londres.” Imray, J. M. “‘Les Bones Gentes de la Mercerye de Londres’: A Study of the Membership of the Medieval Mercers’ Company.” In Studies in London History, Presented to Philip Edmund Jones, edited by A. E. Hollaender and W. Kellaway, 155–78. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1969.

wo r k s c i t e d i n s h o rt f o r m xxi

Kuskin FM

11/15/07

9:18 AM

Page xxii

Jensen, Incunabula. Jensen, Kristian, ed. Incunabula and Their Readers: Printing, Selling and Using Books in the Fifteenth Century. London: British Library, 2003. Johns, The Nature of the Book. Johns, Adrian. The Nature of the Book: Print and Knowledge in the Making. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998. Keen, England in the Later Middle Ages. Keen, Maurice. England in the Later Middle Ages: A Political History. London: Methuen, 1973. Kelliher, “The Early History of the Malory Manuscript.” Kelliher, Hilton. “The Early History of the Malory Manuscript.” In Takamiya and Brewer, Aspects of Malory, 143–58. Kipling, “John Skelton and Burgundian Letters.” Kipling, Gordon. “John Skelton and Burgundian Letters.” In Ten Studies in Anglo-Dutch Relations, edited by Jan Van Dorsten, 1–29. Leiden and London: Leiden University Press and Oxford University Press, 1974. Kipling, The Triumph of Honour. Kipling, Gordon. The Triumph of Honour: Burgundian Origins of the Elizabethan Renaissance. Leiden: Leiden University Press, 1977. Kuskin, Caxton’s Trace. Kuskin, William, ed. Caxton’s Trace: Studies in the History of English Printing. Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 2006. Kuskin, “Onely imagined.” Kuskin, William. “‘Onely imagined’: Vernacular Community and the English Press.” In Kuskin, Caxton’s Trace, 199–240. Lawton, “Dullness.” Lawton, David. “Dullness and the Fifteenth Century.” ELH 54 (1987): 761–99. Lerer, Chaucer and His Readers. Lerer, Seth. Chaucer and His Readers: Imagining the Author in LateMedieval England. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993. Lerer, “William Caxton.” Lerer, Seth. “William Caxton.” In Wallace, The Cambridge History of Medieval English Literature, 720–38. Lerer, “Caxton in the Nineteenth Century.” Lerer, Seth. “Caxton in the Nineteenth Century.” In Kuskin, Caxton’s Trace, 325–70. Lowry, “Diplomacy and the Spread of Printing.” Lowry, Martin J. C. “Diplomacy and the Spread of Printing.” In Bibliography and the Study of 15th-Century Civilisation, edited by

xxii wo r k s c i t e d i n s h o rt f o r m

Kuskin FM

11/15/07

9:18 AM

Page xxiii

Lotte Hellinga and John Goldfinch, 124–37. London: British Library, 1987. Lowry, “The Arrival and Use of Continental Printed Books in Yorkist England.” Lowry, Martin J. C. “The Arrival and Use of Continental Printed Books in Yorkist England.” In Le livre dans l’Europe de la renaissance: Actes du XXVIIIe Colloque International d’Etudes Humanistes de Tours, edited by Pierre Aquilon and Henri-Jean Martin, 449–59. Paris: Promodis, 1988. Marotti, Manuscript, Print, and the English Renaissance Lyric. Marotti, Arthur F. Manuscript, Print, and the English Renaissance Lyric. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1995. Matheson, “Printer and Scribe.” Matheson, Lister M. “Printer and Scribe: Caxton, the Polychronicon, and the Brut.” Speculum 60 (1985): 593–614. Marx, Critique of Political Economy. Marx, Karl. Introduction to the Critique of Political Economy in The German Ideology, 1–23. New York: Prometheus Books, 1998. McKenzie, Bibliography. McKenzie, D. F. Bibliography and the Sociology of Texts. 1986. Reprint, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999. McKerrow, Printers’ & Publishers’ Devices. McKerrow, R. B. Printers’ & Publishers’ Devices in England & Scotland, 1485–1640. 1913. Reprint, London: Bibliographical Society, Oxford University Press, 1949. Miller, The Poem’s Two Bodies. Miller, David Lee. The Poem’s Two Bodies: The Poetics of the 1590 Faerie Queene. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1988. Minnis, Medieval Theory of Authorship. Minnis, A. J. Medieval Theory of Authorship: Scholastic Literary Attitudes in the Later Middle Ages. London: Scolar Press, 1984. Needham, The Printer and the Pardoner. Needham, Paul. The Printer and the Pardoner: An Unrecorded Indulgence Printed by William Caxton for the Hospital of St. Mary Rounceval, Charing Cross. Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, 1986. Needham, “The Customs Rolls.” Needham, Paul. “The Customs Rolls as Documents for the PrintedBook Trade in England.” In Hellinga and Trapp, The Cambridge History of the Book, 148–63.

wo r k s c i t e d i n s h o rt f o r m xxiii

Kuskin FM

11/15/07

9:18 AM

Page xxiv

Painter, William Caxton. Painter, George D. William Caxton: A Quincentenary Biography of England’s First Printer. London: Chatto & Windus, 1976. Pask, The Emergence of the English Author. Pask, Kevin. The Emergence of the English Author: Scripting the Life of the Poet in Early Modern England. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1996. Pearsall, John Lydgate. Pearsall, Derek. John Lydgate. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1970. Pearsall, “The English Romance in the Fifteenth Century.” Pearsall, Derek. “The English Romance in the Fifteenth Century.” Essays and Studies n.s. 29 (1976): 56–83. Plomer, “Pynson’s Dealings.” Plomer, H. R. “Pynson’s Dealings with John Russhe.” The Library 3rd ser., 9 (1918): 151–52. Plomer, Wynkyn de Worde. Plomer, H. R. Wynkyn de Worde & His Contemporaries from the Death of Caxton to 1535. London: Grafton, 1925. Pollard, “The English Market.” Pollard, Graham. “The English Market for Printed Books ( The Sandars Lectures, 1959).” Publishing History 4 (1978): 7– 48. Richardson, “Chancery English.” Richardson, Malcolm. “Henry V, the English Chancery, and Chancery English.” Speculum 55 (1980): 726–50. Rutter, “William Caxton and Literary Patronage.” Rutter, Russell. “William Caxton and Literary Patronage.” Studies in Philology 84 (1987): 440–70. Scanlon, Narrative, Authority, and Power. Scanlon, Larry. Narrative, Authority, and Power: The Medieval Exemplum and the Chaucerian Tradition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994. Scott, The Caxton Master. Scott, Kathleen. The Caxton Master and His Patrons. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1976. Simpson, Oxford English Literary History. Simpson, James. Reform and Cultural Revolution: The Oxford English Literary History, 1350–1557. Vol. 3. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002. Smith and Taylor, Women, the Book and the Worldly. Smith, Lesley, and Jane H. M. Taylor, eds. Women, the Book and the Worldly: Selected Proceedings of the St. Hilda’s Conference, 1993. Vol. 2. Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 1995.

xxiv wo r k s c i t e d i n s h o rt f o r m

Kuskin FM

11/15/07

9:18 AM

Page xxv

Spearing, Medieval to Renaissance. Spearing, A. C. Medieval to Renaissance in English Poetry. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985. Spisak, Studies in Malory. Spisak, James W., ed. Studies in Malory. Kalamazoo: Medieval Institute Publications, Western Michigan University, 1985. STC Pollard, A. W., and G.R. Redgrave. A Short-Title Catalogue of Books Printed in England, Scotland, and Ireland, and of English Books Printed Abroad, 1475–1640. 2nd ed. 3 vols. Revised and enlarged by W. A. Jackson, F. S. Ferguson, and Katherine F. Pantzer. London: Bibliographical Society, 1976–91. Strohm, “The Narrowing.” Strohm, Paul. “Chaucer’s Fifteenth-Century Audience and the Narrowing of the ‘Chaucer Tradition.’” Studies in the Age of Chaucer 4 (1982): 3–32. Strohm, “Writers and Readers of Chaucer.” Strohm, Paul. “Fourteenth- and Fifteenth-Century Writers and Readers of Chaucer.” In Genres, Themes, and Images in English Literature from the Fourteenth to the Fifteenth Century, edited by Piero Boitani and Anna Torti, 90–104. Tübingen: Gunter Narr, 1988. Strohm, Social Chaucer. Strohm, Paul. Social Chaucer. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1994. Strohm, England’s Empty Throne. Strohm, Paul. England’s Empty Throne: Usurpation and the Language of Legitimation, 1399–1422. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998. Summit, “William Caxton, Margaret Beaufort and the Romance of Female Patronage.” Summit, Jennifer. “William Caxton, Margaret Beaufort and the Romance of Female Patronage.” In Smith and Taylor, Women, the Book and the Worldly, 151–65. Summit, Lost Property. Summit, Jennifer. Lost Property: The Woman Writer and English Literary History, 1380–1589. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000. Sutton, “Caxton Was a Mercer.” Sutton, Anne F. “Caxton Was a Mercer: His Social Milieu and Friends.” In England in the Fifteenth Century: Proceedings of the 1992 Harlaxton Symposium, edited by Nicholas Rogers, 118–48. Stamford, Lincolnshire: Paul Watkins, 1992.

wo r k s c i t e d i n s h o rt f o r m xxv

Kuskin FM

11/15/07

9:18 AM

Page xxvi

Sutton and Visser-Fuchs, Richard III’s Books. Sutton, Anne F., and Livia Visser-Fuchs. Richard III’s Books: Ideals and Reality in the Life and Library of a Medieval Prince. Stroud, Gloucester: Sutton Publishing, 1997. Takamiya and Brewer, Aspects of Malory. Takamiya, Toshiyuki, and Derek Brewer, eds. Aspects of Malory. Cambridge: Brewer, 1981. Thrupp, “The Problem of Conservation.” Thrupp, Sylvia. “The Problem of Conservation in Fifteenth Century England.” Speculum 18 (1943): 363–68. Thrupp, The Merchant Class of Medieval London. Thrupp, Sylvia. The Merchant Class of Medieval London. 1948. Reprint, with new introduction, Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1962. Wall, The Imprint of Gender. Wall, Wendy. The Imprint of Gender: Authorship and Publication in the English Renaissance. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1993. Wallace, The Cambridge History of Medieval English Literature. Wallace, David, ed. The Cambridge History of Medieval English Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999. Watson, “Censorship.” Watson, Nicholas. “Censorship and Cultural Change in Late-Medieval England: Vernacular Theology, the Oxford Translation Debate, and Arundel’s Constitutions of 1409.” Speculum 70 (1995): 822–64. Weiss, Humanism in England. Weiss, Roberto. Humanism in England During the Fifteenth Century. 1941. Reprint, Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1967. Wellek, The Rise of English Literary History. Wellek, René. The Rise of English Literary History. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1941. Workman, “Versions by Skelton, Caxton and Berners of a Prologue by Diodorus Siculus.” Workman, Samuel K. “Versions by Skelton, Caxton and Berners of a Prologue by Diodorus Siculus.” Modern Language Notes 56 (1941): 252–58. Yeager, “Literary Theory at the Close of the Middle Ages.” Yeager, Robert F. “Literary Theory at the Close of the Middle Ages: William Caxton and William Thynne.” Studies in the Age of Chaucer 6 (1984): 135–64.

xxvi wo r k s c i t e d i n s h o rt f o r m

Kuskin Intro

11/15/07

9:19 AM

Page 1

Introduction

A Theory of Literary Reproduction

Assuming an average print run to be no greater than 500, then about 20 million books were printed before 1500. — Lucien Febvre and Henri-Jean Martin, The Coming of the Book Before 1501, in the incunabular period, some 402 items, 364 excluding broadsides, were printed in four English centres: Westminster, London, Oxford and St Albans, all but 20 or so in the two first named. Those in Latin (120) account for about 33%, in English (214) 59%; in Law French (30) 8%. This compares with an overall figure for European incunabula of something over 70% in Latin and under 30% in the various vernacular languages. — Lotte Hellinga and J. B. Trapp, The Cambridge History of the Book 1

The book is a symbolic object. Taken in the abstract, a book’s material nature seems ancillary to this truth, a side e±ect of the spirit’s unfortunate need for corporeality. Materiality has a representative function too, however; and in the case of the book it reveals the historical processes by which it was made as well as its passage through the hands of various readers and owners. The relationship between these two trajectories, between what a book says and what it is, is easily masked by the seeming unity of the form overall, one that invites its possessor to rationalize it into a single sense: the name of the author, the meaning of the 1

Kuskin Intro

11/15/07

9:19 AM

Page 2

contents, the character of a historical period, the evocation of an emotion. We should not overlook this process of rationalization, for in it a book stops being a static object, and begins to participate in the process of symbolic production: faced with the incoherence of a book’s various representations, readers write an imaginative connection between themselves and the book, and so the book comes to stand for something greater than itself. This process of imaginative production is inherent in a book and reaches beyond its reader or owner, for books are social commodities—even an unread book, one admired by the solitary user, displayed for sale or curiosity, organized on a shelf, carried in a bag, or stored in a box, is symbolic of social meanings beyond the individual statements written on the pages within its covers. Given the compounded nature of this relationship—that a book’s contents merge with its form; that its material organization implies a greater social organization—it is naive to consider literary production without also considering the reproductive function inherent in the book itself. Invested with a self-reflective quality, books are symbolic machines of social reproduction. The involute nature of books—the way their layers of intellectual and physical representation conspire to a dynamic form of symbolic reproduction—is true for manuscript and print. During the mid-fifteenth century the introduction of metal type fostered a significant transformation of the mode of literary production overall. For England, two central facts stand out. First, by any estimate, millions of books were printed between 1450 and 1500, and, as opposed to the situation on the Continent, the substantial majority of these books were in the vernacular. Second, William Caxton defined the English print market. Historians of print, as well as Caxton’s biographers, have tended to take Caxton’s success for granted, reading it as part of the inevitable replacement of an obsolete mode of production with a more sophisticated technology, and the emergence of a national hero over a handful of anonymous also-rans. On the most superficial level, however, these two facts suggest not the automated advance of technology, but that Caxton successfully negotiated a series of problems concerning the reproduction of books—the power of vernacular literature to formulate its audience, the relationship between rhetorical and political authority, the intimacy of capital and communication, the closeness of commodities and identity—specific to English culture in a way that other entrepreneurs could not. If we accept a generalized view

2 symbolic caxton

Kuskin Intro

11/15/07

9:19 AM

Page 3

of technological progression, we allow both the specific relationship between printing, vernacular literature, and Caxton’s particular agenda to appear as the natural fall of events. If we instead return to the premodern past and recognize the symbolic complexity inherent in the introduction of printing, we can better understand the way cultural, financial, and technological instruments intersect in a process of symbolic reproduction that occurred in the past and still occurs today. Symbolic Caxton: Literary Culture and Print Capitalism explores the introduction of printing in symbolic terms. Its central argument is that by the first half of the fifteenth century English literary production had articulated a number of intellectual structures for vernacular writing: the formation of the mystery of stationers in 1403 represented a coordinated and consolidated institution for London textual production; the definition of Lollardy as the English heresy and its programmatic censorship through Arundel’s Constitutions of 1409 mandated the orthodox nature of English writing; Henry V ’s Chancery apparatus after 1417 defined English as the language of the state; and the writings of Thomas Hoccleve, John Shirley, and John Lydgate formalized Chaucer’s historical role as a vernacular poet of authority.2 Print infused these structures for manuscript production, orthodoxy, authority, and authorship with volume, expanding the pre-existing social economy from within the process of textual production itself. Given the symbolic nature of the book, this material increase in volume simultaneously created an imaginative change. Thus I argue that the manufacture of thousands of English books in Westminster, Oxford, St. Albans, and London, let alone the influx of thousands of books from the Continent, implies a corresponding transformation in English public and private life, in what human beings did for a living and for leisure, in the way they organized their rooms, in what they read, heard, thought, and imagined about the world around them, not because of the revolutionary nature of technology but because of the internal alignment of English culture prior to print. Caxton facilitated this transformation by introducing the printed book according to a critical program in which his press operates as a material vehicle for abstracting the symbolic nature of the book from the more personal context of manuscript circulation, delivering it up to the communities in which he lived: the increasingly literate upper and lower landed gentry, the mercantile and bureaucratic professionals of the

introduction 3

Kuskin Intro

11/15/07

9:19 AM

Page 4

period, and the nobility. Early printing operates neither by slow progression nor radical break; it inhabits the existing structures of vernacular production to force a collateral shift interior to English culture. More broadly, then, Symbolic Caxton argues for a reassessment of the English fifteenth century. It is a commonplace assumption that the fifteenth century has little direct influence on the formation of the modern vernacular canon or the expansion of print culture.3 Medievalists describe the period as one of repression, for which there are various explanations: the generation of readers familiar with Chaucer simply died away; the Lancastrian usurpation of the throne at the turn of the century demanded such propagandistic writing from its main poets that there was little room left for creativity; Church o¤cials in the early decades of the century suppressed vernacular intellectual exploration.4 Scholars of the early modern period tend to view Lancastrian and Yorkist literary cultures as remote from Tudor concerns and are thus comfortable attributing tremendous originality to sixteenth-century poets and editors.5 Fixated on the transition from manuscript to print culture, book historians are no less invested in the notion of an intellectual break in the sixteenth century.6 And though the past fifteen years tell of a newfound scholarly interest in fifteenth-century writing, the fundamental sense that a rupture between modernity and its medieval past occurred in the fifteenth century remains an accepted truth.7 So considered, the story of the fifteenth century is told as an interlude between greater acts, a contrast to Chaucer’s isolated genius and foil for Renaissance originality, a transition marking time before the dramatic break that defines modernity.8 Amazingly, a literary history of connection remains to be told. This book asks whether the current view essentially misrecognizes the logic and importance of the fifteenth century and argues that the latter third of the period is better understood as an age of reproduction than of waning, a culture interested in, if not obsessed with, how the received symbols of authority are manipulated and reproduced. Its thesis is one of transformation, and this is also print’s di±erence: summoned forth by the pre-existing modes of social production, print simultaneously expresses and renovates the culture from which it came. The significance of print is less that it signals a fundamental break with the past than that it reasserts this past by transforming it, restating the symbolic basis for ver-

4 symbolic caxton

Kuskin Intro

11/15/07

9:19 AM

Page 5

nacular literary authority through material reproduction. In short, Symbolic Caxton argues that the major features of modernity—capitalism, printing, and the vernacular canon—are fundamental to, and transformed out of, fifteenth-century literary culture. The medieval past and the (post)modern present are less comfortably separated than the easy nomenclature of historical period implies. In Symbolic Caxton I argue four main points. First, that fifteenthcentury English literary culture is understudied. I identify two significant ways in which this period matters for English literary history as the Chaucerian inheritance and the laureate system of vernacular humanism, but beyond these I suggest that because William Caxton was involved in both the intellectual contents and material forms of literary reproduction— in the translation and editing of his sources, and in the manufacture of and commerce in books—he o±ers an excellent illustration of the English fifteenth century’s engagement with, rather than absence from, literary history. So comes a second major point in Symbolic Caxton: no literary study is complete without considering how the di±erent aspects of a text coalesce into symbolic meaning. Fifteenth-century English literary culture is self-reflective in the extreme, I will argue, but books are so by nature: setting out ideas in a material form, they present a unified statement greater than the sum of their parts. We often take this arrangement for granted—that an author’s separate compositions can be collected on a shelf, that short verse pieces should be anthologized, that long prose tracts conform to a freestanding hardcover or paperback standard; that the authority of literature inheres throughout these variations—but it is far better that we acknowledge it as a process jointly material and intellectual and in doing so seek to understand the historical reasons for any one particular construction. I term such a methodology for reading symbolic bibliography. Following on this point is a third: texts are simultaneously marked by time and are transcendent of it; scarred into being by their very manufacture, they await an intimate conversation with the future. I find, therefore, the category of the ideal literary work as untouched by editors and in some way separate from the literal vessel, as existing only by abstractions—“authorial intention,” “original state,” “ur-text”—profoundly less interesting than the actual objects, the time travelers, that have come into our hands. Reading the self-reflective symbolic object of the text as

introduction 5

Kuskin Intro

11/15/07

9:19 AM

Page 6

historically significant without recourse to hyperbolic claims to newness or origins demands what I call the archival imagination. Thus, my fourth point: theories of literary production reliant on an instance of authorial or historical origins are fundamentally insu¤cient to explain either the genesis of the text or the development of literary history. Literary history occurs not by break but by a series of fractured developments. Writers and text makers reproduce the historical circumstances they know—either by working intellectually with the sources and traditions at hand or by physically implementing the craft techniques of their practice—with a di±erence; this di±erence, their labor, produces a specific object, call it a text of art, for future consumption. Yet such consumption is never innocent, for it too is a reproduction of pre-existing reading patterns— patterns of ownership, of coterie identity, of reading, of listening, of marketing—which, in turn, produces a new statement. I do not believe the point can be distilled down to some chicken-or-egg koan: any engagement with literary history demands that a theory of literary reproduction subsumes the production and consumption cycle. One bold example of the nature of the scholarly misrecognition surrounding print, not of my own derivation at all, will have to su¤ce for the many I produce within the book. Paul Needham and Blaise Agüera y Arcas have recently reviewed Gutenberg’s early type using high-definition computer imaging.9 By digitally filtering for the spread of ink, Needham and Agüera y Arcas have been able to measure the type on the 1456 Bulla Thurcorum. The Bulla is printed in Gutenberg’s DK type, the same as the 1450 Sibyllenbuch and the 27-line Donatus fragments, the first pieces of printing, and Needham and Agüera y Arcas have demonstrated that the individual letterforms on these texts fail to match a uniform pattern. “But the earliest characters were di±erent,” Needham writes. “We are therefore led to the conclusion that these earliest European characters were not derived from metal matrices marked with a punch. They were realized by the aid of another procedure in which the contours of the letter were reconstituted within a malleable material like fine sand.”10 So, Needham suggests that the individual letters were drawn in a plastic material such as sand with a device like a stylus, a process he calls “Cuneiform Typography.” The argument is one of distinction: both sand- and punch-casting produce movable type. Sand-casting is a one-time process, for once the individual letter is cast in sand the matrix must be disturbed if the letter is

6 symbolic caxton

Kuskin Intro

11/15/07

9:19 AM

Page 7

to be released and thus must be recreated again and again with each casting, resulting in a sort of fundamentally unique type. Punch-casting involves the making of a metal matrix that can be used repeatedly in a mold to create identical letterforms; punch-casting creates uniform type, but relies upon the precise knowledge of alloys so that the molten mixture of lead, tin, and antimony does not melt the matrix or mold in the casting process. By 1475 punch-matrix fonts appear in Italy and are explicitly recorded in Nicolas Jenson’s will of September 1480, and so Needham has tentatively proposed a broad dividing line for the transition between the two technologies, suggesting that type prior to 1470 should be considered of this manufacture, while type made after 1480 is produced through a punch-matrix.11 According to Needham and Agüera y Arcas’s account, technology has a powerful hindsight: ever perfected in the present, it reveals new secrets about its own past. Though dramatic, Needham and Agüera y Arcas’s observation about early type is not new; indeed, it was duly noted in nineteenth-century Caxton scholarship: Joseph Ames first classified Caxton’s types in his 1749 Typographical Antiquities, which presents “A Specimen of Caxton’s Letter.” A century later, G. I. F. Tupper expanded upon this greatly with the first type synopsis, made for printer-scholar William Blades’s 1863 two-volume edition William Caxton: England’s First Printer, a study heavily influenced by Henry Bradshaw, one of the founders of modern English bibliography. Here Blades writes “that Caxton’s types were indeed cast is evident from identity in the face of the same letter, where even a flaw may be noticed as occurring and recurring continuously; but of what material the matrices were formed must be to a great extent conjectural,” concluding, “we find the conclusion inevitable that hard-metal punches were not used, and that even types themselves were used either as punches, or in some analogous way for the production of new founts. The use of large types to form matrices in sand (as in the case at Messrs. Caslon’s foundry, above alluded to), was not uncommon in bygone years.”12 While Tupper, Bradshaw, and Blades could not measure with the precision of Needham and Agüera y Arcas’s computer process, they apparently came to the same conclusion almost a century and a half earlier. Yet their observations were slowly forgotten, the actual historical practice folded into a popular simplified claim: Gutenberg invented movable type and this invention marks a major historical

introduction 7

Kuskin Intro

11/15/07

9:19 AM

Page 8

shift.13 The claim is true, but it is also hyperbolic; it misrecognizes Caxton’s period to suggest a unity of purpose and technique for what was a hybrid and experimental practice. The simplified understanding of early print has fostered a series of collateral misrecognitions concerning the relationship of print to culture. For example, recent scholarship has framed the debate about early print as between oppositions: fixity versus variation, manuscript scarcity versus print abundance, and sudden versus progressive change. I have reviewed these arguments at length in the introduction to Caxton’s Trace: Studies in the History of English Printing; here it is enough to note that they are seriously flawed, married to a notion of culture as unified and of modernity as a break from the past.14 We can see this, too, in Needham and Agüera y Arcas’s implicit assumption that metal type cannot show variation. In perhaps the most considered answer to Needham’s argument to date, William Pratt argues that the process of hand production in fact produces radically di±erent letters from identical matrices. “Types cast in a handmould are certainly not identical or even virtually identical,” Pratt tells, continuing, “It is generally accepted that Gutenberg used six presses. To keep enough i’s on hand to supply six presses would require perhaps 7000 i’s. It comes as no surprise to us as handcasters of Gutenberg type that there appear to be hundreds of unique i’s.”15 One point rises from this debate clearly: the notion of fixity is conceptually alien to early print production. Paper is fixed on the tympan, type is fixed in the form, ink is fixed on the paper, and pages are fixed within the covers of a book, but at a very rudimentary level early type and early books are heterodox products: hand finished, neither early typefaces nor the books they impressed are identical in the sense of our own massproduced tools and shrink-wrapped commodities.16 Conversely, the notion that the early printed book was conceptually inseparable from a late medieval manuscript—that the introduction and circulation of millions of books into the European commercial market went in some way unnoticed by book producers and buyers, customs agents and overland haulers, priests and poets—is equally untenable. Rather than reduce the fullness of this change to a few categorical oppositions, we should recognize that the introduction of print involved multiple determinations within the cultural economy. These determinations included changes in the physical manufacture of books as well as in the intellectual strategies

8 symbolic caxton

Kuskin Intro

11/15/07

9:19 AM

Page 9

for how such commodities might be practically financed and e±ectively disseminated. In forgetting the complexity of the process, literary and print historians misrecognize its nature and treat one particular technological innovation as a mode of production in its entirety, one launched— like Athena—from Gutenberg’s genius and superimposed upon a pre-existing culture as the prime mover of change. Gutenberg invented movable type, but printing is intertwined with and born from the fifteenth century’s imagination. Considered as a mode of production, printing is complex and disparate. This is true on the level of individual letters and on the level of the dissemination of books. Early printing shares much with manuscript production: paper making, woodcut printing, binding, line manufacture, even the press itself, all antedate the mode of production overall. Indeed, for print production to have been a viable idea at all, the demand for books and the capital necessary for such large-scale investment, as well as for individual purchase, must have been apparent before the actual invention. Printing is better thought of as an uneven marriage of forms involving manuscript production techniques, mercantile financial and distribution expertise, and a number of individual craftsmen and partnerships interested in refining Gutenberg’s initial invention. To capture the way these multiple determinations create the printed book in all its fullness, the study of the early printing must also be alive to symbolic evidence. There is much to be gleaned from examining the material books, and the archival evidence of fifteenth-century printing demands careful and continual review.17 But a solitary emphasis on material evidence too easily reduces the complexity of the situation to a blanket appeal to technology as a prime mover of history and the key to its explanation, suggesting that relationships of mechanical e¤cacy entirely encompass a series of interactions that are literary in the broadest and narrowest senses. Caxton’s contribution to the history of printing, as well as to the history of the period, is not merely technological; it is the articulation of the symbolic relationship among books, individuals, and social context, a process that occurs in his prose and page layout both. Material and discursive, print is an overdetermined mode of production, one that changes the various modes of production surrounding it, not by producing something markedly new, but from within. In this, the introduction of print in England is recursive and self-reflective, not simply because of

introduction 9

Kuskin Intro

11/15/07

9:19 AM

Page 10

its technological nature, but because it arches back on the intellectual structures it inhabits, changing the discursive and physical nature of writing through volume. Rather than understood by a logic of technological progress or break, print is best understood through a logic of reproduction that assembles its mode of production by combining pre-existing practices. Such a logic of reproduction is clear in Caxton’s early publication of books of hours. A horae, or book of hours, consists of a liturgical calendar, a set of passages from the four Gospels, the hours of the Virgin, the psalms, litany, and o¤ce of the dead. The English horae follows the Use of Sarum, or Salisbury, a fourteenth-century revision of the Roman rite in use throughout England, Wales, and Ireland by 1457. The market for horae antedates print: there are two hundred surviving examples of Flemish manuscript versions intended for export to England.18 The first printed horae is the 1473 Roman edition printed by Theobaldus Schencbecher, followed by Nicolas Jenson in 1474 and 1475, and Andreas Belfortis in 1475. Caxton was a pioneer in this market as well, producing his first horae (STC 15867) in 1475/76, an octavo book of hours that remains only in fragmentary form, possibly printed in Bruges.19 Caxton printed no fewer than six editions of this text, and Mary C. Erler estimates that between Caxton’s introduction of the horae and 1534, a quarter million horae were published overall.20 Thus, by Erler’s calculations, the English populace consumed three to five editions a year, one for every thirty-five Londoners by the turn of the century.21 The development of the printed horae demonstrates both the potential of manuscript production and the symbolic di±erence of print. The rapid influx of these books into England is crucial to understanding the authority of its vernacular culture. For a book has multiple uses, only the most obvious of which is reading. Other uses involve writing, such as the marginal notion of personal events in the calendar sections, and still others must remain inarticulate even to the contemporary participants, such as the general sense of spiritual intimacy evoked by the possession of an authoritative object. Nicolas Watson has emphasized the disappearance of innovative English theological writings that explore dissent or heterodoxy after 1409, the date of Arundel’s Constitutions, as evidence of a larger reduction in vernacular spiritual writing, arguing that “a theological golden age, an age of vernacular auctores” had passed.22

10 s y m b o l i c c a x t o n

Kuskin Intro

11/15/07

9:19 AM

Page 11

Here Watson’s view is consonant with a series of studies that discover the sixteenth century to be a break from the past when issues of orthodoxy and heterodoxy once again became the subject of vernacular interrogation. No one would want to claim that a well-used printed horae contains the subtle theological investigation of fourteenth-century writings such as Piers Plowman; indeed, such liturgical apparatuses were instrumental in unifying the Church around a central practice, and would only become more so in the sixteenth century. So, we may choose to see in the demand for printed horae the commodification of the sacred, the dissemination of a centralized practice, or the banality of common people thinking common thoughts about their spirituality; but four facts must be clear: (1) these liturgical texts had appeal enough to sustain a serious financial investment; (2) the printed books of hours are not monolithic but recognize regional di±erence in their various articulations (Roman Use, Salisbury Use, etc.); (3) many of these books must have been owned by people who would not read Latin but desired a horae as a physical object marking their particular English spirituality; and (4) this desire is related to the books’ symbolic evocation of cultural authority, which to a large degree remains private. The printed liturgy symbolically condenses the authority of the Church into an object, which it makes available for retail sale, and while this does not imply an openly dissenting view of orthodoxy, or even a sustained theological exploration, it certainly suggests a meaningful expression of vernacular theology that can only be heterodox in nature because of its intimacy. Instead of codifying the antiintellectual climate of the “age of brass in which fifteenth-century readers were actually living,” then, I suggest we acknowledge that the reproduction of pre-existing texts at a new level necessitates a collateral shift in the symbolic production of such authority, one that constitutes a significant revision of the social economy overall.23 We are faced with a choice: we can acknowledge this tension but nevertheless hold to the category of traditional religion and argue for a dramatic cultural break in the sixteenth century, or we can allow for a much more fluid notion of social change.24 I choose the latter: Caxton’s work with the press is tied to the specifically vernacular production of knowledge and this implicates it in a series of irresolvable, yet nevertheless powerfully reproductive paradoxes: vernacularity within Latinity; heterodoxy within orthodoxy; literacy within unread books; and capitalist

i n t r o d u c t i o n 11

Kuskin Intro

11/15/07

9:19 AM

Page 12

nationalism within an economy driven, largely, by manorial tenancy. Scholarship has done much to avoid discussing the obvious implications of these paradoxes: it has forgotten what it once knew about typography; it has erected illusionary oppositions between print fixity and manuscript variation; it has told a story of transitions between vast periods, featuring the long decline of the medieval period and a sudden renaissance of selfdiscovery. Symbolic Caxton contests this series of juxtapositions to argue that print and the vernacular English canon emerge not through a historical break but through an organic transformation of its textual economy deeply intertwined with the production of vernacular authority and identity. In this, it also raises a series of troubling questions about the way intellectual structures such as authorship can coexist with chronologically older forms of literary persona, such as the compiler, about the status of originality on the boundary of production and reproduction, and, ultimately, about blindness and insight in our own practices as literary critics and historians. Print appears according to the manuscript format, but this does not obviate the fact of its di±erence. Its material difference is simultaneously a symbolic di±erence. This transformation is fraught and at times paradoxical but is nevertheless a history that remains to be told.

There is a sense in the scholarship on fifteenth-century print production that the narrative contained in a series of masterworks by E. Gordon Du±, H. R. Plomer, H. S. Bennett, and Graham Pollard cannot be complicated.25 Thus current research on early printing concentrates on precision—the finer identification of dates, titles, and personages; the minute examination of typographic details; the further refinement of codicological patterns—and not on conceptual or thematic revision. As a result, we know more about the details of the past, but these details remain isolated from the larger scholarly understanding of the late Middle Ages, the development of modernity, and the history of the book overall. To bracket the late fifteenth century as in some way separate from this larger discussion is to neglect the historical moment at which point English literature enters large-scale commercial circulation and to allow the material terms of symbolic production—the way art is invested with capital in the marketplace—to remain isolated from the ques-

12 s y m b o l i c c a x t o n

Kuskin Intro

11/15/07

9:19 AM

Page 13

tions of power, gender, and authorship that occupy medieval and early modern literary studies overall. If we instead imagine that the various practices associated with vernacular canon formation—capital, printing, and authority—develop in the premodern past, we must also admit that modernity does not o±er a clean break from this past but is in fact tied to it in material, intellectual, and symbolic ways. Because the arrangement of these practices within the overall mode of literary production changes over time, any general theory that remains married to a claim for origins is fundamentally insu¤cient. For full understanding of the relationships among capital, print, and the English canon, only a theory of literary reproduction directed at articulating the shifting recombination of practices within the overall mode of production is capable of understanding how the material forms of, and the intellectual strategies within and surrounding literature conspire to a symbolic depth.26 We can begin to sketch a theory of symbolic reproduction through Caxton’s biography. I cover Caxton’s biography in some detail in chapters 1 and 2, but, in brief, it can be divided into four stages. Born between 1415 and 1424, Caxton was enrolled as an apprentice to Robert Large in 1438, and he appears as both a Mercer and a Stapler at various times after this, doing import and export business in the Low Countries and France.27 Caxton was appointed governor of the English Merchant Adventurers in Bruges around 1462, a post that included substantial judicial and diplomatic responsibilities. In 1469 he began translating a prose history of Troy into English, and during this period he is connected to the court of Margaret of York, wife of Charles the Good and Duchess of Burgundy. For reasons that remain opaque, in June 1471 Caxton began an eighteen-month residency in Cologne, and this move sets in motion the second main phase in his biography in which he seems to have resigned his post as governor and learned to print. Here Caxton helped produce three Cologne editions, and in 1473 he returned to Bruges and published the first English book, his translation of the Troy story, the 1473/74 Recuyell of the Histories of Troye (STC 15375). He followed this with a second English edition, The Game and Play of the Chess (STC 4920), and four books in French. Caxton’s editions are the first vernacular printed texts in English and in French.28 The third stage of Caxton’s career begins with his return to England in late 1475 (or early 1476) through to 1486, at which point he emerges

i n t r o d u c t i o n 13

Kuskin Intro

11/15/07

9:19 AM

Page 14

as the only printer in England. Initially, Caxton set up shop “at the red pale” across from Westminster Palace and printed a series of broadsheets and quarto pamphlets on a small press, followed in late 1476 or early 1477 by the first folio printed in England: the Canterbury Tales (STC 5082). The shop at the red pale was a highly centralized production center: Caxton sold manuscripts and printed books, rented storage space, ran a bindery, and did import and export business from this location. European printers largely shipped their books unbound, leaving them to be collated by a local stationer who would have them bound for a customer at the point of purchase. Caxton consolidated this action; indeed, though there exists great variety in the binding of his books, records of remaindered texts all report individually bound units, and it appears that he conceived of certain texts as being bound together.29 Further, the Westminster location put Caxton near the clerks of Chancery, and this opened his business to the bureaucratic demands of jobbing, the printing of small tracts either in single or half-sheet format, or perhaps in small quartos, for individual commission. This third stage, then, is marked by his centralization and consolidation of production methods, featuring an intertwining of various techniques, including sales, into one location. The late 1470s and middle 1480s describe a period of expansion in the English print market. Theodoric Rood appeared in Oxford in 1478, perhaps replacing an anonymous printer before him, and the Schoolmaster Printer began in St. Albans in 1479, again perhaps replacing a nameless predecessor. John Lettou set up a shop in London in 1480, and was joined by William Ravenswalde (otherwise known as de Machlinia or “of Mechelen”), who subsequently took over his shop, moving it to a location near the Fleet Bridge, and then to Holborn, and married Lettou’s widow, Elizabeth North, some time later. A few other individuals are named as printers, or are recorded as importing books from the Continent, but no texts remain to represent their work. With the possible exception of the St. Albans Schoolmaster, all of these printers are foreign born and backed by English financers: the early Oxford printer seems to have been connected to James Goldwell, Bishop of Norwich, and Rood worked with Thomas Hunte, an Oxford stationer; John Lettou was sponsored by William Wylcoks, a draper and Merchant Adventurer. Again, Caxton’s method involves consolidating a variety of operations—printing and financing—into one centralized arrangement. In further contrast to

14 s y m b o l i c c a x t o n

Kuskin Intro

11/15/07

9:19 AM

Page 15

Caxton, these printers largely focused on Latin texts, only moving into the vernacular at the end of their careers, and often copying Caxton’s titles, if not his actual texts. In turn, Caxton’s vernacular output from 1482 to 1485 is tremendous, and during this period he produces his major editions of Chaucerian poetry (including his 1483 illustrated edition of the Canterbury Tales), courtly romances (including Thomas Malory’s Le Morte D’Arthur, STC 801), history (the 1482 Polychronicon, STC 13438), and lay piety (his 1483 translation of the Golden Legend, STC 24873–74). The mideighties also demonstrate a sustained interest in printing on the part of the central government: in 1484 Richard III’s Parliament passed a significant act including protections for foreign textwriters and printers, and the statute that included this act initiated the printing of English statutes in general. A remaining copy of the 1482 Polychronicon, owned by one William Purde, contains a notation naming Caxton regis impressore, King’s Printer. Thus by the end of this phase the central government appears as attempting to sustain the market’s continued expansion; nevertheless, by 1486 all the competing printers seem to have failed, leaving Caxton with an apparent monopoly.30 The fourth phase of Caxton’s career is defined by a sudden contraction in production, for by various estimates Caxton produced little or nothing in 1488.31 From 1489 on, he continued to translate French and Latin texts into English, write prologues, and generally oversee his press until his death in late 1491 or 1492. Wynkyn de Worde, Caxton’s longtime associate, reports that Caxton died just after translating the last lines of the Lives of the Fathers in his 1495 edition of that work (STC 14507). Caxton was survived by a daughter, Elizabeth. Overall, he printed over one hundred separate editions, about thirty of which are his own translations, and many of which include prose and verse prologues and epilogues as well as interesting colophons and rubrics. Around the time of his death, a second generation of English printers begins to take shape: Richard Pynson, who claims that Caxton was his master in his edition of the Canterbury Tales (perhaps more in tribute than as a historical record; STC 5084), began printing just outside London in St. Clement Danes; de Worde inherited Caxton’s shop; and somewhat later, in 1496–97, Julian Notary, Jean Barbier, and “I. H.” (perhaps Jean Huvain) launched a short-lived press. In 1500 both Pynson and de Worde relocated their operations to Fleet Street in London, de Worde near Shoe Lane, and

i n t r o d u c t i o n 15

Kuskin Intro

11/15/07

9:19 AM

Page 16

Pynson near St. Dunstan’s Church, by which point de Worde had produced 115 editions and Pynson 120, together doubling Caxton’s output in half the time.32 Other successful printers also emerged; for example, John Rastell, a Coventry-born lawyer and playwright, began printing around 1510, and a number of men who worked with de Worde followed suit: Henry Watson appears to have produced two books in Charing Cross with a Dutch printer, Hugh Goes, and Robert Copland, a writer and subcontractor for de Worde, started an independent shop of his own. Caxton’s career is traditionally read through a series of static and unresolved oppositions: his wholesale importation of Burgundian literary culture set against his national pride in English language and literature; his slavish devotion to his patrons versus his commercial mentality; his awareness of Continental trends as opposed to his resolutely medieval worldview. I see Caxton’s work as reproductive and dynamic, operating according to a cogent if at times contradictory and paradoxical critical program that works through an intellectual mechanism of appropriation and consolidation. Reproduction is essential to this system, for Caxton creates little ex nihilo: he draws the press from Cologne, his texts from English, Burgundian, and French traditions, his prose from a series of authors. Rather than invent new modes of production, he appropriates preexisting practices and consolidates them toward his own purposes. For example, even his centralized production facility at the red pale is not entirely innovative: C. Paul Christianson has long argued that the London Bridge tenements, a hivelike building housing a variety of book artisans and coordinated by a stationer, demonstrates just such an operation for manuscript production. Reproduction is the common denominator across all of Caxton’s work, and just as his position as a trader involved him in the reproduction of capital, his work as a printer is chiefly involved in translating and reissuing existing literary works. Caxton’s catalogue demonstrates how this logic of reproduction allows him to appropriate individual texts and consolidate them into a canon. For example, from 1476 to 1479 Caxton printed a collection of Chaucerian poetry including folio editions of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales and his translation of Boethius’s De consolatione philosophiae (STC 3199), as well as quarto editions of various shorter poems by Chaucer and John Lydgate. In 1483 he printed a second series of Chaucerian poetry, comprising three main works by Chaucer, Troilus and Criseyde (STC 5094),

16 s y m b o l i c c a x t o n

Kuskin Intro

11/15/07

9:19 AM

Page 17

The Book of Fame (STC 5087), and a second edition of the Canterbury Tales (featuring an original prologue, revised passages, woodcuts, and a new, ostensibly more authorial order for the tales; STC 5083), and adding two new texts: John Gower’s Confessio amantis (STC 12142) and Lydgate’s Life of Our Lady (STC 17023). By presenting Chaucer, Lydgate, and Gower in two discrete groups, both focused around the Canterbury Tales, Caxton gives shape to an otherwise open-ended poetic tradition, consolidating the English literary canon around select authors and works. A number of Caxton’s editions fall into this sort of patterning, and Caxton uses his prologues and epilogues to make it explicit: Caxton’s 1477 prologue to the History of Jason (STC 15383) refers his readers to his earlier Recuyell of the Histories of Troye on the grounds that both stem from the literary culture of the Burgundian court; his 1479 Cordyal (STC 5758) emphasizes that this text concludes his printing of Anthony Woodville’s translations of the Dictes and Sayings (STC 6826, 6828, 6829) and Morale Prouerbes (STC 7273) of Christine de Pizan; he links his 1482 Polychronicon and 1484 Golden Legend as “noble historyes”; and he groups his 1481 Godfrey of Boloyne (STC 13175), 1485 Le Morte D’Arthur, and 1485 Charles the Grete (STC 5013) around the popular figures of the Nine Worthy Heroes. Caxton’s strategy is often critically discounted as simply derivative, no more than marketing, his prologues and epilogues labeled “pu±s.”33 I suggest that the derivative nature of literary reproduction is entirely the point, that the development of marketing strategy in the late fifteenth century is nothing short of remarkable, and that in Caxton’s case it indicates a material and intellectual consolidation of English culture into a coherent imaginative grouping of texts invested with literary authority: the English literary canon. Print reproduction contains a double action: it appropriates authority from the past and consolidates it into a new object, the printed book, which is in turn geared for subsequent reproduction in the wholesale and retail market. Volume is print production’s guiding principle of innovation and its rule for survival. Volume is fundamentally built into print production as a mandate and goad to reproduce capital, for a working print shop can only be financially viable if it maintains a high enough output to pay o± its initial investment in type and presses and thus keep up with the continual costs of labor and raw materials, the most significant of which was, of course, paper. Considering this, Febvre and

i n t r o d u c t i o n 17

Kuskin Intro

11/15/07

9:19 AM

Page 18

Martin’s estimate of 20 million books appears potentially quite conservative, for it is possible to imagine much greater runs than five hundred editions of popular material, and of easy-to-print ephemera such as singleor half-sheet advertisements, announcements, and indulgences.34 If we acknowledge the role of volume, then, we must also acknowledge that capitalism is a part of English printing from the start, not as the dominant mode of production of English society but as one element within its system of representations, practices, and conflicts. Caxton may not have termed his work “capitalist,” but as I illustrate in chapter 2 he very much saw himself using finances to produce more finances, and further, the language he uses to describe this production process is the same language he uses to define his own self-presentation. Thus, I suggest that early print production, indeed printing in general, is ill served by monolithic terms such as capitalism or print culture, which suggest large-scale divisions between cultural practices, and is better served by an understanding of historical shifts which looks not for moments of originality but seeks out relationships within an ongoing reproduction cycle. Read as part of an enduring culture of the vernacular book, rather than as the beginning of a linear movement toward print culture, fifteenth-century printing is clearly imbricated in much larger economies of commerce and polity, as well as public and private identity. The nature of the book is to consolidate these various economies into a material object, itself available for appropriation. So, when printing increases the volume of books, it also adjusts their authority to a di±erent register. The concept of authority is crucial to Symbolic Caxton overall, as a term that embodies the connection between material and symbolic economics at its very heart. Fifteenth-century poets and princes looked to existing sources of authority—to the Church, the monarch, past authors— in order to appropriate the right to speak themselves. The technique for doing so was well illustrated to them by Chaucer, whose identity as an author is premised on his manipulation of his sources. Indeed, the main writers of the English fifteenth century—Thomas Hoccleve, John Lydgate, Sir Thomas Malory, George Ashby, Anthony Woodville, William Worcester, Stephen Scrope, John Skelton—all define themselves by reproducing—excerpting, translating, and paraphrasing—pre-existing works. These writers rely upon a cogent system of appropriation and consolidation of literary authority worked out by the generation of writ-

18 s y m b o l i c c a x t o n

Kuskin Intro

11/15/07

9:19 AM

Page 19

ers immediately after Chaucer through 1450. In chapter 3 I term this system the Chaucerian inheritance, and Caxton’s writing works through it as well: he appropriates phrases, themes, and, at times, whole passages for his prologues and epilogues, consolidating them into his own voice.35 I suggest that, rather than a mark of aesthetic dullness and intellectual closure, fifteenth-century writers’ techniques, as with the case of the horae, epitomize their century’s thinking through of the possibilities for large-scale vernacular cultural production as reproduction. Thus, I argue that originality is the wrong measure of Caxton’s importance; reproduction is a better measure. Like poetry, print: central to my argument is the idea that literary reproduction is both material and intellectual. Both work according to a process of appropriation and consolidation to reproduce the literary object as symbolically di±erent from what came before. Thus I o±er two definitions at the start of Symbolic Caxton: by literary authority I mean nothing more than the right to speak in letters, a right continually appropriated from established sources and applied to present conditions. This associates literary authority with authorship, and through authorship, literary property, for “it seems likely that the earliest sense of auctor,” writes Larry Scanlon, “meant seller or vendor, one with the right to alienate property.”36 Thus, my second term, capital, is authority transformed into an appropriable form, be that a poetic line or an object that can be purchased. This definition of capital emphasizes capital’s ability to inhabit the objects that constitute the English canon, and its power to move between producer and purchaser, as well as its general ability to extend to individuals the right to speak. It also suggests the ways in which the poetry of the Chaucerian inheritance models the terms for its material reproduction. I intend it, too, to remind us that the printed book is nevertheless a product of individual workers’ labor, and as such represents the command of those individuals in an objectified form.37 In recognizing the manifold ways the printed book is infused with authority we can begin to trace Caxton’s formulation of an English audience. Again, Caxton’s strategy is both intellectual and material: by appealing to established literary conventions Caxton creates a discursive relationship between the symbols of and audience for an English literary canon; by producing his texts as visibly di±erent from the presentation manuscripts the nobility actually commissioned, he makes this

i n t r o d u c t i o n 19

Kuskin Intro

11/15/07

9:19 AM

Page 20

authority available to a wide audience. Testifying to the overlap between the noble and non-noble in English society, the printed book operates somewhat di±erently from the hand-produced manuscript: it connects a broad range of subjects to English culture. So, Caxton’s broadening of the English canon is attractive to the nobility because it reinforces a symbolic connection between literary production and social authority, in which the literary product appears an extension of that authority. It is also attractive to the classes beneath the nobility because it facilitates the appropriation of that authority as property. The printed text therefore represents authority as mobile but also fixed, appropriable from the court to the market and back through its abstract evocation of English culture in the material body of the book. Accordingly, it operates less to commemorate the arrival of a unified “bourgeoisie” into cultured society than to articulate class position at all. So, as much as the action of consumption extends to various people the role of audience, it allows them to recognize themselves as unified. Print participates in the development of the English canon, the focusing of that canon around political events, and the consolidation of an urban capitalist class protected by international trade barriers and increasingly coming to see itself as a productive force within the English nation. Containing within it the terms not only for consumption but also for renewed production, print production is a form of social reproduction. In short, Caxton’s writing teaches his readers to read in relation to the symbols of authority. English print, capital, and authority are joined, therefore, not just through their joint interest in buying and selling but in their drive toward vernacular literary authority. In this book I focus in on Caxton’s particular interest in processes of transformation—mechanical reproduction, credit, alchemy, translation, allegory, conversion—within his writing and the narratives he prints as a method of establishing his sense of the power of the press overall. I o±er these themes as alternatives to a simple historical model of reform or revolution, and argue that in each case Caxton’s work is of a piece with the larger logic of the century: the reproduction sequence of the appropriation and reduction of pre-existing material, which is then multiplied outward. Caxton’s work is part of a process of reproduction that shifts and rearranges discrete practices within a larger cultural totality without breaking from it. Both the form of the book itself—its nature as a durable object and its tendency to be rediscovered

20 s y m b o l i c c a x t o n

Kuskin Intro

11/15/07

9:19 AM

Page 21

and reprinted long after it was originally made—and its contents present information for reading this fraught passage. This process, let alone the object of the book’s movement through it, is di¤cult, and thus I emphasize the historical role of paradox throughout my telling; nevertheless, I contend that the notion of historical break is a fundamental misrecognition of the role of the fifteenth century in constituting modernity. Born of paradox, it is mired in contradictions that it can never resolve. Through this sequence, print thrusts the present into the future.

Symbolic Caxton develops through six chapters, each of which is organized around a discrete thematic issue of cultural reproduction: biography, capital investment, canon formation, authorship, community, and finally, what I term vernacular humanism. In the course of these chapters I update the traditional narratives of Caxton’s life and work where appropriate, but my main concern is to deepen the existing story of print production, and so my readings are selective rather than inclusive, and my notes—much reduced from their original length—are intended to point the reader to the vast bibliographies on Caxton more than to identify every single source, my original inclination. Caxton’s world was largely urban and thus much of my argument takes place in the city centers in which he lived and worked: Bruges, London, and Westminster. But books travel, and thus my argument also takes place in English places beyond the M25: in chapter 4 I look to Coventry for an example of pageantry; in chapter 5, to a rebellion in York. I am occasionally driven chronologically back from Caxton’s tenure as a printer-publisher and forward into book history long after his death. Symbolic Caxton begins with two chapters on the symbolic dimension of fifteenth-century economics. Chapter 1 opens the discussion in the twentieth century by examining the current value attached to Caxton’s name. I pursue this reading through the nineteenth century and back to the fifteenth to discuss the development of Caxton’s printer’s mark, the woodcut stamp with which he identified his editions, as a way into the history of early English printing, and to suggest the importance of his specific merger of economic and literary modes of production within his persona. This is a crucial point, one often overlooked for its obviousness: Caxton takes great pains to associate himself with his books.

i n t r o d u c t i o n 21

Kuskin Intro

11/15/07

9:19 AM

Page 22

In doing so he adopts technologies of authorship from the Chaucerian writers before him and applies them to book making. The only comparable examples in fifteenth-century English writing are those of John Shirley, the London book collector and producer, and Thomas Hoccleve, the Chancery scribe and self-styled Chaucerian poet. The fundamental di±erence between their work and Caxton’s is, of course, volume: where Shirley and Hoccleve are scribe-poets, Caxton is a merchant-printer, and though he is extremely careful to separate his prose from the economic world he worked in, his persona continually mingles the roles of capitalist, book producer, and reader. In chapter 2 I read how Caxton’s commentary on his first printed book, the Recuyell of the Histories of Troye, and his Advertisement (STC 4890) associate this persona with fifteenthcentury capitalism. Some readers will no doubt see my insistence that Caxton’s economic activities are capitalist as hopelessly anachronistic, but as the fundamental mechanism of printing is the investment of capital toward the reproduction of capital, his actions are ill-served by terms such as mercantilism, barter, or trade, all of which imply simple buying and selling. So, chapter 2 argues that Caxton uses capital to produce his books and persona alike, and while his practices do not typify the century as a whole, I believe it is important that we recognize and describe them for what they are: capitalist. Chapters 3 and 4 turn to the Chaucerian inheritance. Chapter 3 discusses Caxton’s typographical layout of Chaucer and the Chaucerian poets as transmuting an intangible tradition into a series of tangible commodities through his two print series. The chapter argues that rather than creating Chaucer as an author, a concept that Caxton inherits from the first half of the century, Caxton exploits the role of author to consolidate various forms of authority into a discrete product. In a sense, Symbolic Caxton is no more than a meditation on this issue, for whether conceived of through his prose voice, his printed trademark, his promotion of certain individuals as laudable, or his identification of groups of readers as a coherent body of gentleman readers, Caxton’s development of the printed book is interested in unifying authority. Here, however, I make a specific point about the reproduction—the consolidation and articulation—of Chaucer’s legacy in the second half of the fifteenth century: Caxton comes to a pre-existing tradition, the Chaucerian inheritance, and condenses it into a discrete selection of titles. In doing this he identi-

22 s y m b o l i c c a x t o n

Kuskin Intro

11/15/07

9:19 AM

Page 23

fies a larger imaginary structure as physically tangible, embodied in certain books that can be held up and manipulated. The implication of this argument is that Caxton’s contribution to the history of printing is material—he imported print technology into England and refined it according to his own style—but also intellectual: he emphasized a sense of Chaucerian writing already present in English culture. Chapter 4 argues that though the Chaucerian inheritance could be materialized in printed books, such an authority figure as Chaucer (or Gower and Lydgate for that matter) was uninhabitable for the majority of poets and translators of the century, and thus it suggests ways in which such literary figures— Anthony Woodville and Margaret Beaufort, for example—took up literary roles outside of Chaucer. Specifically, I read Caxton’s editions of Christine de Pizan’s Morale Prouerbes and Fayts of Arms (STC 7269) as providing a crucial model for literary persona for the minor English writer. Thus, in presenting the English author, Caxton not only brings the Chaucerian inheritance to market, he also sets out a dialogue between feminist and antifeminist perspectives to the aristocratic reading communities of the Wars of the Roses in order to secure the role of the literary amateur in print. Chapters 5 and 6 are concerned with the English nation. Chapter 5 continues my exploration of Caxton’s critical program by turning to Caxton’s Worthies Series of romances, which include his editions of Godfrey of Boloyne (1481), Le Morte D’Arthur (1485), and Charles the Grete (1485). This series o±ers a clear example of the way Caxton strategically links his texts for consolidating a disparate population of readers into an imaginary community. This process is ideological in two senses: it makes specific political claims for the English state, while at the same time suggesting an imaginative organization for the social and personal body. Chapter 6 reads Caxton’s 1480 Methamorphose and 1490 Eneydos (STC 24796) to argue that these texts represent a brand of English humanism—what I term vernacular humanism—more interested in exploiting the authority of classical writing than in translating actual texts of the past, which remain lost to English readers of the time. Importantly, where I see Chaucer’s vernacular writings as often descending from erudition to vulgarity, vernacular humanism presents itself as a scholarly endeavor. Thus, Caxton associates himself with Continental humanists, he asserts Skelton’s academic credentials, and his Eneydos is

i n t r o d u c t i o n 23

Kuskin Intro

11/15/07

9:19 AM

Page 24

largely a polemical comparison between Boccaccio’s and Virgil’s renditions of the Dido story. Caxton is quick to fold this scholarly sensibility into his persona, and I argue that at the end of his career he selfconsciously adapts a retrospective tone, revisiting the themes of the Recuyell to suggest himself as a vernacular humanist, and associating printing with the authority of the Tudor state. The book concludes with a brief reading of a genre Caxton did not print—the morality play—as a way of suggesting some of the implications of Symbolic Caxton for our understanding of modernity. Thus, the six chapters of Symbolic Caxton can be grouped into three larger units—capitalism, authorship, and social organization—but a number of themes stand out across them all. Caxton’s enduring interest in the history of the book, his emphasis on books as documents of history deeply important to society itself, is unavoidable. The importance of persona and public identity is equally unavoidable in reading Caxton; indeed Caxton’s writing is so imbued with his persona that it is easy to overlook the fact that this is his literary creation. It is the argument of chapter 1 that, historically, Caxton scholars have too quickly forgotten this point and believed themselves on personable terms with Caxton. Less obvious, but strikingly present in his writing and publications, is an abiding interest in female readers and writers. The fifteenth-century Chaucerians, too, are preoccupied with feminism: Thomas Hoccleve devotes large sections of the Regement of Princes to the discussion of female authority; John Lydgate includes a sequence of defenses against the charge of antifeminism in the Troy Book, and, of course, John Skelton writes his own Wife of Bath, Eleanor Rumming. Caxton is no less interested, and from his prologues and the texts he chooses to print emerges a particular trope: a female literary figure representing the appropriation of language. This trope is deeply ambivalent: it imagines women as objects useful to the manipulation of authority, but just so, it writes female authority into the center of fifteenth-century literary production. As much as Symbolic Caxton moves thematically and chronologically through the last quarter of the fifteenth century, then, it also orbits these three issues: the history of the book, persona, and feminism. In dealing with Caxton’s texts, I have tried to keep my quotations as close to Caxton’s terms as possible while maintaining legibility for the modern reader. My citations from Caxton’s texts come from the

24 s y m b o l i c c a x t o n

Kuskin Intro

11/15/07

9:19 AM

Page 25

UMI microfilm examples or from particular copies that I have examined. My purpose in this practice has been to capture some sense of the literature as it came out of Caxton’s shop, to renew lines of verse now old and familiar, and above all to ensure that I am indeed engaging fifteenthcentury texts and not those of earlier or later scribes, printers, and editors. Where possible, I have included signatures for page reference; in lieu of signatures I have tried to make my references clear in my prose. In the few cases where microfilm is not available and I have not been able to look at the text directly, I have used W. J. B. Crotch’s 1928 Prologues and Epilogues for the Early English Text Society, as I find that it presents Caxton’s prose in the most unaltered form. Where modern editions of such texts are available, I have included notes to these editions, all of which I have relied upon. In general, though, I have tried largely to maintain the original orthography, only modernizing long s and expanding and italicizing abbreviations where necessary. I indicate Caxton’s slash marks but not line breaks as the resulting combination is confusing. I accompany my first reference to a particular edition by its STC number for clarity. In all cases I date Caxton’s texts according to Paul Needham’s checklist of Caxton’s editions in The Printer and the Pardoner, appendix D (83–91), to which I am indebted. Finally, I would like to point out two desk references useful to the study of Caxton by N. F. Blake: his William Caxton: A Bibliographical Guide usefully surveys the field; more recently, his William Caxton for the English Writers of the Late Middle Ages series provides a strong discussion of Caxton’s biography and an excellent review of the primary material. A word or two on practical vocabulary: throughout Symbolic Caxton I have tried to follow the suggestion by G. Thomas Tanselle in A Rationale of Textual Criticism and distinguish between works—which are timeless and abstract—and texts—which are mediated by human and mechanical agents. These terms, however, are at times di¤cult to distinguish, for as Tanselle points out, “the act of interpreting the work is inseparable from the act of questioning the text.”38 I also make a distinction among three main forms of production: material production, by which I mean the physical construction of objects; intellectual production, which I see as a self-conscious and articulate level of authorial, scribal, or editorial control over the text; and symbolic production. As I have suggested above, in the term symbolic I mean less the discrete

i n t r o d u c t i o n 25

Kuskin Intro

11/15/07

9:19 AM

Page 26

rhetorical symbols of a work as represented in a text than the way the various elements of production come together in a dynamic and imaginative, if inarticulate, meaning. My thinking on symbolic production comes from Marxist criticism, particularly from Louis Althusser’s notion of ideology in “Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses ( Notes Towards an Investigation).” Althusser’s discussion of the role of the imagination in ideology strikes me as useful because it emphasizes the unconscious and fundamentally creative nature of ideological processes.39 Nevertheless, I have tried to avoid using this term, ideology, freighted as it is with a long history of general connotations and minute theoretical nuances. For this book, I have used symbolic to suggest the manifold ways books exceed any discrete meaning to reflect and shape their larger social fabric.

26 s y m b o l i c c a x t o n

Kuskin Intro

11/15/07

9:19 AM

Page 27

PA R T I

C A P I TA L A N D LITERARY FORM

Kuskin Intro

11/15/07

9:19 AM

Page 28

Kuskin Ch 1

11/15/07

9:21 AM

Page 29

Chapter One

Affixing Value The Bibliography of Material Culture

The main biographies of William Caxton are epic romances.

1

Di±ering in detail, they tell his life as a courtly narrative of alienation and return. The story typically begins with an account of Caxton’s boyhood, the details of which are now lost to us in the wilds of the Kentish forest of the Weald, as he tells us in the prologue to the Recuyell of the Histories of Troye: “[ I ] was born 7 lerned myn englissh in kente in the weeld where I doubte not is spoken as brode and rude englissh as is in ony place of englond” (STC 15375; unsigned, 2v ). Caxton emerges from this broad and rude past as his life begins to take documentary shape in London, first through the 1438 records of his enrollment as an apprentice to Robert Large, a prominent London merchant who became one of the wardens of the Mercers’ Company in 1427, a sheri± of London in 1430, and lord mayor in 1439. Named in Large’s will in 1441, Caxton next appears in Bruges in 1450, and then vanishes from the archival record for seven years.2 The narrative line picks back up with his reappearance as a diplomat in the late 1450s, his appointment as the governor of the English nation around 1462, and his association with Margaret of York’s Bruges court in 1469. From there, the story goes, he is “exiled” into the Continent where, after happening upon the art of printing in Cologne, he returns to Margaret’s court as a champion, presenting her with the first book printed in English: the 1473 Recuyell of the Histories of Troye.3 The next episode finds Caxton settled in Westminster in 1475, now in the

29

Kuskin Ch 1

11/15/07

9:21 AM

Page 30

service of Anthony Woodville, the Lord Scales, Queen Elizabeth’s brother. Caxton printed three editions for Woodville, and Caxton’s biographers, figuring him as a squire to this quintessential fifteenth-century knight, have attributed all his major literary publications throughout the late 1470s and 1480s—the two runs of Chaucerian poetry and the Le Morte D’Arthur—to Woodville’s influence.4 Woodville was executed by Richard III in 1483, and with this, Caxton’s career is understood as again falling into a “crisis” or “lean time,” from which he is, again, saved by an English knight, this time the Earl of Oxford, John de Vere, who returns him to court with the 1489 edition of Christine de Pizan’s Fayts of Arms (STC 7269).5 And so the Middle Ages come to a close: with the Wars of the Roses behind him, the Tudor state firmly in place and the major writers of the English canon in print, Caxton can finally rest. Defined by the narrative structure he did so much to popularize, Caxton’s biography is a literary story twice over: it is a romance about the making of romances. The story is, then, essentially self-reflective. As Caxton so often pauses to meditate on his life and the literature he chooses to print, it could not be otherwise. Romance evokes this quality by recalling one of the late fifteenth century’s central literary genres, and thus it not only provides an aesthetic background for Caxton’s biography, it also frames a number of social issues—reading practices, class hierarchy, political organization, economic activity, psychological unity—as resolved. For romance makes Caxton’s England appear insular, divorced from the complex Chaucerian sense of character and ambiguity that he was equally invested in by naturalizing secular organization according to the military and masculine ideals of chivalry.6 But if we accept this at face value we have done little to analyze Caxton’s engagement with late fifteenthcentury literary culture in any depth. When Caxton approaches the print market he does so not as a knight-errant in a static social condition but as an entrepreneur. This does not mean that early print production is not self-reflective; rather it means that such a reflective quality needs to be understood as a dynamic component of the larger literary economy, one that figured literature as a symbolic commodity. There are a number of ways into the history of symbolic production. One might approach it through economics, through the physical structure of books, or through their poetic content. Here I would like to suggest Caxton’s broad relevancy to the history of books by exploring one

30 c a p i t a l a n d l i t e r a ry f o r m

Kuskin Ch 1

11/15/07

9:21 AM

Page 31

of his most cogent strategies: his emphasis on his name in print: “me symple persone william Caxton.”7 As Seth Lerer writes, “Caxton remains a touchstone for that history, as the invocation of his name or the veneration of his books signals an understanding of just what it means to be a scholar or collector, a reader or a writer—not just in the fifteenth or the nineteenth century, but now.”8 In this chapter I turn to two eponymous moments in the history of Caxton’s books, the sale of the Wentworth Chaucer in 1998 and the development of Caxton’s 1487 trademark, as moments that illustrate the way Caxton’s name a¤xes value to his books by fusing literary and commercial enterprises in a notion of the self as a literary subject. Caxton’s particular emphasis on attaching his name to his books, either in prose or through his trademark, is only one way into the larger issue of symbolic relations; there are a number of examples of this self-reflective quality in early print, and in the course of this chapter I compare Caxton’s articulation of the relationship between the self and the book to that of his contemporaries. For though Caxton emerges as the significant English printer of the fifteenth century, his approach to printing is part of a larger cultural scene. In this, Caxton’s story is less biographical than bibliographical, less the story of an individual man than of the cultural construction of books as objects that are symbolic of identity. Defined by the genre of romance, Caxton’s reflections appear the ruminations of the last medieval hero; viewed as part of a larger social economy transforming itself through its own terms, we can understand it as strategically connected to the development of authorship, class identity, and the personal library, what Caxton calls “his chambre or studye.”9 Books invite self-reflection—they invite books about books—and in this they exceed their material status and become machines for reproducing the self. Caxton’s is indeed a story of literary production twice over: it is a story of the individual making books, which is simultaneously a story of books making individuals.

Book Buying: Consumption in the (Post)modern Library On July 8, 1998, Christie’s London auctioned o± the Wentworth Chaucer, one of the ten extant near-complete copies of William Caxton’s 1476 /77 edition of the Canterbury Tales (STC 5082).10 Christie’s experts

a f f i x i n g va l u e 31

Kuskin Ch 1

11/15/07

9:21 AM

Page 32

valued the book between £500,000 and £700,000; within minutes, however, a contest among three agents (one competing by phone) established interest at 4 million, which a last-minute bid by Sir Paul Getty II’s proxy, Bryan Maggs, resolved at £4,621,500. With Getty’s purchase, Caxton’s first edition of Chaucer became, for a time, the most expensive printed book in history, far more costly than the previous record holder, a 1455 Gutenberg Bible, which sold for $5.3 million in 1987, and still a good bit more than the most expensive First Folio of Shakespeare’s plays, which sold in October 2001 for $6,166,000. This amazing price is due, in part, to the soaring stock market of the 1990s, and, in part, to Lotte Hellinga’s and Paul Needham’s redating of Caxton’s Canterbury Tales from 1478 to 1477, or late 1476, making it not only the first edition of Chaucer but also the first folio book printed in England.11 The auction demonstrates a process of a¤xing value to a historical text, one Getty’s explanation for his high bid elaborates: “I have always hoped that it might be sold one day by the [ Fitzwilliam] family,” he reveals, “but never dared to expect that I would be able to own such a book and ensure its retention in [ England].” More than just a valuable object, the book facilitates a transformation from private to public spheres: it allows Getty to produce personal interest—his hopes, dares, and ownership, and the decision to sell of Olive, Countess Fitzwilliam—as of national consequence, his intention to retain the book in England, the country to which he was naturalized the same year. Indeed, this relationship is entirely reversible, for as much as the purchase furthers Getty’s self-creation as an Englishman, the national possession of objects of the past such as Caxton’s Canterbury Tales underwrites English identity. The silent medieval artifact, the incunable edition of Chaucer, is thus a part of a much larger circuit involving books, investment capital, and identity. I argue that this is true for the fifteenth century as well. Getty’s purchase of the Wentworth Chaucer recalls another defining sale in the history of English book collecting, the 1812 Roxburghe auction of the Valdarfer Boccaccio, a 1471 Venetian edition of the Decameron. The Marquis of Blandford purchased this book for the thenstaggering sum of £2,260, ushering in what Seymour de Ricci has called “a new era in British book-collecting” defined by the frenzy of book buying known as bibliomania.12 Caxton’s books were very much a part of the fervor, and it is across the period that the major studies of early English

32 c a p i t a l a n d l i t e r a ry f o r m

Kuskin Ch 1

11/15/07

9:21 AM

Page 33

printing were written: Thomas Frognall Dibdin’s extensive revisions of Joseph Ames’s Typographical Antiquities, Henry Bradshaw’s essays establishing the science of bibliography, and William Blades’s landmark studies of Caxton.13 The dinner celebrating the Roxburghe auction founded the club of the same name, the club that, as David Matthews has argued, initiated the development of Middle English studies.14 The collecting of Caxtons, then, is part of the development of English scholarship, and in this it legitimizes its own practices: unabashedly immersed in buying and selling, bibliomania is a self-conscious phenomenon, one that fosters a history of the books that define its interest. That Getty wishes to participate in such a history is clear from the layout of his Chiltern Hills estate, Wormsley.15 The ancestral home of the Scrope and Fane families, Wormsley is no ordinary manor: its main building is a refurbished medieval castle fronted by Doric columns and connecting to a secondary building of Georgian façade.16 Such asymmetry follows eighteenth- and nineteenth-century fashion, and Wormsley’s library also takes its cues from this period, for housed in the gothic section of the manor as it is, the library evokes the great nineteenth-century bibliomanic Lord Spencer and his Gothic Library at Althorp. Spencer developed the Althorp library while in his thirties, beginning with the purchase of the Count de Reviczky’s collection and avidly buying Caxtons throughout his life: he bought the second edition of Caxton’s Canterbury Tales for £7 in 1795, and paid £111 for the Knight of the Tower in 1807. At the Roxburghe sale, Spencer bought a copy of Caxton’s Blanchardin and Eglantine for £215, an imperfect Speculum vitae Christi for £45, a second edition of the Festial for 100 guineas, an imperfect Recuyell for £116, and a Chastising of God’s Children for £140.17 Getty’s and Spencer’s libraries provide a venue to the past, for libraries are, of course, overtly interested in history: they house the books of and about history, and they order these books for posterity. A place for the private consumption of books, the library nevertheless produces a larger public statement about its owner and history alike. Production through consumption—the library is a metaphor for material culture: it reveals the ways in which commodities articulate a symbolic relationship between individuals and the objects that occupy their lives. We can see this relationship in Thomas Dibdin’s bibliographical account of the 45,000 items in Spencer’s collection, Aedes Althorpianae. In

a f f i x i n g va l u e 33

Kuskin Ch 1

11/15/07

9:21 AM

Page 34

the first volume of this massive endeavor, Dibdin brings the reader on an imaginative tour of the library’s five rooms. Dibdin is never at a loss for words about books, but as he moves through the library’s rooms, it is commodities—art, furniture, and gaming equipment—that occupy his attention. The usual purpose of these rooms, as Dibdin tells it at least, is not scholarship but socializing: the Long Library is a morning sitting room or a drawing room where the company assembles after dinner; the Raphael Library is governed by its art collection, the Billiard Library is of self-explanatory uses; and the Marlborough Library is for the family members when they are alone. Only the Gothic Library seems conducive to reading a book, and this is just one of the many possible forms of repose it invites. Dibdin writes that sofas, chairs, tables, of every commodious form, are of course liberally scattered throughout the room. The bay-window looks into the pleasure-garden, or rather into a luxuriant shrubbery; where both serpentine and straight walks invite to a ramble among larches elms and oaks. . . . Upon the whole, it must be confessed that this room, both within and from without, has a character peculiarly bookish—and such as we might suppose to belong to a wellendowed monastery.18 Dibdin remarks in a later passage that “the studious may steal away from the animated discussions carried on below,” and this sums up the rooms as a whole: reading is a sideline activity, performed in alcoves and galleries removed from the main area, which is largely social. In this vein what the libraries achieve, indeed what the substantial bibliographical descriptions that follow in the next four volumes achieve, is “a character peculiarly bookish—and such as we might suppose to belong to a well-endowed monastery.” The eighteenth- and nineteenth-century library o±ers an ostensibly private space rooted in the solitary activity of reading and the privileged exclusivity of the learned and noble book collector as a stage for public entertainment, and it makes this o±er in a form accessible to a broad consumer base. Thus Dibdin imagines Althorp as a kind of secular monastery, a place that derives the spiritual energy of pre-Reformation England from the objects of the commercial world. Dibdin describes Spencer’s libraries as chiefly about the organization of people, and this is of a piece with the larger history of the library in 34 c a p i t a l a n d l i t e r a ry f o r m

Kuskin Ch 1

11/15/07

9:21 AM

Page 35

the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries when it became the social center of the English manor. The fashion for libraries, as for book collecting in general, moved down the social scale so that by the end of the eighteenth century, though the clubs that defined the book collectors’ community remained exclusive, the material trappings that suggest a bookish character were exported to the English public. Library furnishings from bookcases to busts could be ordered through catalogues in various styles—gothic, Oriental, or Indian—replete with a selection of optional veneers, moldings, decorative adornments, and accessory furnishing.19 In part, then, Dibdin’s construction of the library is entirely about commodities, and just so, as the tour of the library concludes, he reflects upon what these commodities announce: It is barely possible, even for the most uninterested visitor, to walk through the apartments in which this extraordinary library is deposited, without being struck with the general beauty of the copies and of the bindings. Such an assemblage of valuable, rare, and precious books—the result of the ardour, judgment, and liberality of one man—its present noble owner—while it has very few similar examples in our own, or other countries—cannot fail to produce reflections the most congenial with enlightened minds, and of the most honourable and flattering description in favour of the founder of such an intellectual banquet.20 Here the rooms, furnishings, artwork, books—even the bindings of such books—conspire to an almost objective statement that even the most uninterested visitor cannot ignore, and the more enlightened viewers will not fail to reflect upon it. This statement is concerned with beauty and nationalism, but finds its center in the contemplation of individual greatness and sets out the personal traits of ardor, judgment, and liberality. In his study of seventeenth-century libraries, T. A. Birrell writes that “a private library is part of its owner’s biography,” and this much Dibdin suggests as well; by the nineteenth century, however, this biography is itself constructed for public consumption, and so Dibdin sets it forth as a banquet. The library provides a backdrop of exclusivity, of literary heritage, of historical sophistication, accommodating a rising bourgeoisie into English culture by suggesting to them what they might do in the morning and the evening, how they might comport themselves publicly as a f f i x i n g va l u e 35

Kuskin Ch 1

11/15/07

9:21 AM

Page 36

hosts when entertaining and privately as a family when alone. Thus the library provides an order for books that is also an order for people, a model for the social subject that is also a model for the individual. This provision contains within it a series of symbolic tensions captured in the library’s very décor, for the more the library becomes simply a den or a living room, the more it loosens its purchase on the exclusive club culture that legitimizes it; similarly, the more the library’s furnishings are made available through machine production and catalogue orders, the less exclusive the genre, the less spiritual the setting. Like the printing press itself, then, the library’s potential for order is wrapped up in the perils of commodification: both threaten to degenerate their symbolic value into mere consumerism, the press by adulterating the rarity of books through its overwhelming multiplicity, the library by presenting things of worth—books, knowledge, culture—in a potentially frivolous salon. For the nineteenth century, these dangers were worth inhabiting because they o±ered a symbolic system of social organization that embeds class hierarchy within consumer goods. Like Spencer’s Gothic Library, Wormsley Library o±ers a comfortable combination of sofas, overstu±ed chairs, reading alcoves, and a gallery, all surrounded by books so as to achieve, as Dibdin says, “a character peculiarly bookish.” Wormsley, too, presents study as only one of many possible ways of passing the time comfortably; one might just as well examine the fine cases on display or admire a pleasant view. Still, though Getty’s is reminiscent of the nineteenth-century library, it is constructed at a much greater historical remove. Where the eighteenthcentury asymmetrical architectural design developed to accommodate servants’ quarters, Wormsley’s medieval, neoclassical, and Georgian visual cues create a historical pastiche. The library continues this theme: its beamed roof is painted with the astrological arrangement at the hour of Getty’s birth, recalling star maps from the fifteenth century; the design of the overmantle is lifted from eighteenth-century exemplars; the mantle itself is from the nineteenth century.21 The Wentworth Chaucer presents such historical layering to no less a degree: the third most complete copy extant, the book is bound in mid-eighteenth-century red goatskin, its missing outer leaves of text are supplied in facsimile on paper from the 1820s, and two of the inner leaves are cannibalized from another copy.22 When these alternations were made they were no doubt done so as to

36 c a p i t a l a n d l i t e r a ry f o r m

Kuskin Ch 1

11/15/07

9:21 AM

Page 37

make the book more perfect, more true to an ideal notion of books; now they reveal yet another palimpsest of historical periods. Even Getty’s choice of a Caxton Chaucer is bound up in considerations of historical distance. A Gutenberg Bible commemorates the invention of printing through the most universal of works; it transcends history. In contrast, the Wentworth Chaucer is involved in historic specifics: it is the first English folio edition of the father of English poetry. “To renew the old world,” writes Walter Benjamin, “that is the collector’s deepest desire when he is driven to acquire new things, and that is why a collector of older books is closer to the wellsprings of collecting than the acquirer of luxury editions.”23 For Spencer and his fellow bibliomaniacs, this renewal occurs through the imagination of pure forms, and so the excesses of their libraries and librarians, their willingness to cut into fifteenthcentury books, now appears calculated but nevertheless straightforward, an attempt at an ideal organization of books and people, history, and culture: understandable, if unforgivable. Collecting almost two centuries later, Getty returns to modernity as an incomplete project, and finding such straightforwardness impossible, encounters history as pastiche and palimpsest. Getty does not just evoke English culture, then, he evokes it nostalgically, and this is not only part of his historical condition, it is of a piece with his larger political agenda. A resident in England since 1971, Getty was regally invested with knighthood at Buckingham Palace just before purchasing the Wentworth Chaucer in 1998, at which time he also gave up his U.S. citizenship. Always a generous philanthropist, in 2001 he donated £5 million to the Conservative Party, the largest donation ever given to a British political organization, explaining, “The Conservative party, in my view, is the party best equipped to defend the British way of life.”24 Getty’s purchase and his politics form a defensive return to the past. This is not the only possible relationship between book buying and politics; it is specific to the book collector. For example, on March 10, 2000, at another Christie’s auction, this time in New York, the Fox-Bute four-volume subscriber set of the double-elephant folio of Audubon’s Birds of America sold for $8,802,500 (at the time of this writing, the Wentworth Chaucer remains the most expensive incunable). The Fox-Bute Audubon was purchased by Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa AlThani, king of Qatar. Both wealthy oil aristocrats, Al-Thani and Getty

a f f i x i n g va l u e 37

Kuskin Ch 1

11/15/07

9:21 AM

Page 38

had substantially di±erent uses for their books. Al-Thani’s plans for the Audubon are resolutely public: best known for supporting the Arabiclanguage news channel Al-Jazeera in 1996–97 with a $140 million startup grant, Al-Thani intends to house the book in the natural history museum he is building in Qatar. Getty remained a private collector, influencing scholarship and politics as a subject not as a king, and so he tells of his gift to the Conservative Party, “Since I’ve lived here and been happy here for such a long time, I think it’s my duty here.” Like Spencer’s library, Getty’s is a private statement that achieves public dimensions. Books and buildings articulate their symbolic statement in overt and implied ways. Such a combination of discourse and objects need not be entirely coherent to be e±ective. For example, if Getty’s library and his selection of the Wentworth Chaucer demonstrate the ways in which symbols can be put to use by an individual, they also demonstrate the ways they exceed his purpose, in this case revealing his defense of the British way of life as somewhat labored, his library as overly nostalgic and publicly isolated rather than forward looking and socially engaged. These qualities, too, register the particular tensions of Getty’s cultural moment, one at which the discourses of nationalism as well as book culture are themselves in transition, and enjoy a tremendous surge in patriotism and supermarket-size bookstores while the larger mechanisms of capitalism nevertheless move increasingly toward a global and digital economy. Regardless of these tensions, Wormsley coheres successfully enough to draw attention away from the most glaring contradiction inherent in the purchase of the Wentworth Chaucer: books, even very important books, cannot be worth the human labor represented by well over £4.6 million. Indeed, Getty produces the Wentworth Chaucer as of such value through his bid, through Wormsley’s historical connections, through his political vision. However tinged with irony this symbolic system appears, it forms a mode of consumption that successfully a¤xes value to a simple object, producing it as monetarily quantifiable and placing it in a context in which it has direction and purpose. For the nineteenth century, a similar symbolic system gave the rising bourgeois family a floor plan for living; for the twenty-first, it ensures that Getty bought one of the most important books in history and not a sheaf of old papers tampered with by numerous anonymous hands across the centuries. Outside this circuit of production and consumption, the connection between the object and

38 c a p i t a l a n d l i t e r a ry f o r m

Kuskin Ch 1

11/15/07

9:21 AM

Page 39

its value appears arbitrary, and we need look no further than the Roxburghe sale to see this truth, for Lord Spencer, underbidder by a narrow margin at the auction itself, ultimately bought the Valdarfer Boccaccio from the Marquis of Blandford for only £750 only a few years later.25 Within the context of the auction, of the frenzy of bibliomania, the book’s value was apparent for all to see; outside the auction its value changes, and the same must be true for the Wentworth Chaucer: it appears a coherent object only as long as the larger symbolic apparatus holds together. All about books, the library is, paradoxically, not about books at all: it is about the connection between objects—books and buildings—and intangible categories—capital, authority, and identity. In short, the library, indeed, the book itself, constitutes a symbolic mechanism of which Caxton’s name is a significant part.

Book Selling: Production in Caxton’s Chamber The relationship between material and symbolic forms which we see in the story of the Wentworth Chaucer has largely been misunderstood for fifteenth-century literary culture. This is plain in the publicity surrounding the Getty purchase. For example, the London Times reported Christie’s auction with an image from Caxton’s 1481 Mirrour of the World (STC 24762; c5), misidentified as the start of the Wife of Bath’s Tale (fig. 1.1).26 While it is di¤cult to imagine for what occasion the Times acquired a picture of the Mirrour of the World, its substitution is somewhat understandable, for an actual page from Caxton’s version of the Wife of Bath’s Tale—a column of Caxton’s Type 2 with, at most, a 3-line handrubricated initial as decoration—is almost entirely unremarkable to the nonspecialist. In contrast, the Mirrour gives the Times’s reader a page thick with medieval curiosities. The mistake glosses the unfamiliar and historically specific (1481 The Mirrour of the World; the Wentworth Chaucer) as canonical and timeless (the Wife of Bath’s Tale; the Canterbury Tales) and, in doing so, confirms for its readers that the fifteenth-century book is quite obscure, while also reassuring them that this fact needn’t detain them in any real way; however bizarre the book actually looks, it is still the Wife of Bath’s Tale and everyone knows about that already. Indeed, the brief article accompanying the piece underscores this sense by

a f f i x i n g va l u e 39

Kuskin Ch 1

11/15/07

Figure 1.1. “Chaucer Fetches £4 .6m,” The Times, Thursday, July 9, 1998, Home News, 3. By permission of the News International Syndication Ltd.

9:21 AM

Page 40

Kuskin Ch 1

11/15/07

9:21 AM

Page 41

mentioning that the Wentworth Chaucer’s title page is missing. Caxton never uses title pages; the remark conspires with the image to construct the fifteenth century as eccentric, yet nevertheless conforming to the recognized structure of books. The Times’s substitution is emblematic of a larger misreading of fifteenth-century literary production, and the further we look at writing on The Mirrour of the World the more we see this view. For example, as the first English book to contain woodcuts, the Mirrour is largely taken as a failure: Edward Hodnett opens his definitive study of English woodcuts by remarking, “England stumbles on to the book-illustration stage with some of the poorest cuts ever inserted between covers . . . the outlook for English illustration could hardly be worse.”27 The remark typifies a longstanding verdict about fifteenth-century English writing from Thomas Hoccleve, through John Lydgate, directly to Caxton: it could hardly be worse. Thus, the general sense of the English fifteenth century is that it is unselfconscious about the terms of literary production, happy to knock out miserable woodcuts, labored verse, and derivative prose. I suggest the opposite: that the textual producers of the century are tremendously aware of the terms of production. Indeed, I suggest that we can put our finger down virtually anywhere in the fifteenth century and realize this complex self-awareness, and as a test I suggest we begin at a perversely arbitrary example: folio c5 of the Mirrour of the World. The Mirrour of the World ’s woodcuts may well be rough, but this fact should not distract us from reading the page on its own terms. If we do, we find that it is actually quite concerned with literary production. Coming in the midst of a discussion of the seven liberal arts, the page concludes the “scyence of Rethoryque” and introduces the chapter on “Arsmetryque.”28 Hodnett describes the upper woodcut as of “a bearded schoolmaster standing. Four pupils, two more indicated,” but the woodcut is more perplexing than this brief description allows, for in it a crowd of students present a book to the schoolmaster, who reacts, seemingly, by flinching.29 The lower woodcut features writing as well: in it a mathematician sits at an inclined writing desk holding a tablet of obscure calculations in one hand and a writing implement in the other. Ancient forms of inscription and computation litter the desk before him: a tablet, a roll, a set of circles. The page thus depicts literary production on a number of

a f f i x i n g va l u e 41

Kuskin Ch 1

11/15/07

9:21 AM

Page 42

levels: its prose tells a story of the historical development and intellectual categorization of the liberal arts; its woodcuts illustrate the production and dissemination of writing. It also suggests how writing organizes people: the lower woodcut shows the solitary mathematician physically at work doing intellectual labor; the upper one shows how the finished book unifies the students in relation to their master. Taken as they come, the woodcuts reverse our expectations of book production to suggest that, in fact, the use of books precedes their production; taken as a whole they present the two operations simultaneously so that the writing and use of documents occur as reciprocal actions within the larger discussion of forms of knowledge. In either reading, the first woodcuts in an English book reflect upon the order and use of books. Caxton discusses the woodcuts in his “Prologue declaryng to whom this book apperteyneth” to the Mirrour, where he tells us that his manuscript source “was engrossed and in alle poyntes ordeyned by chapitres and figures in ±renshe in the toun of bruggis the yere of thyncarnacion of our lord . M . CCCC. lxiiij. in the moneth of Juyn” (a5).30 Caxton is often accused of padding out his source material through various techniques of amplification. Yet Caxton edits his sources in precise ways. Here he has translated this passage from MS Royal 19 A IX; however, this manuscript only reports that it was written in 1464. Caxton added the month of production from his own knowledge, from another manuscript, or from his imagination. In turn, he omits the manuscript’s mention of the bookseller “Jehan le clerc librarier & bourgois dicelle ville de bruges.”31 On one hand, then, Caxton calls attention to his book as a specific reproduction, an English copy of his manuscript’s “chapitres and figures in ±renshe” made on a specific date; on the other, he abstracts the manuscript from its commercial context: thus, when he narrates the production of the printed edition from his manuscript exemplar, he translates, “Whiche said book was translated out of latyn in to ±rensshe by the ordynaunce of the noble duc / Johan of Berry and Auuergne the yere of our lord . M . CC . xlv +” (a4v) adding, And now at this tyme rudely translated out of ±rensshe in to Englissh by me symple persone william Caxton / at the request+ desire+ coste and dispense of the honourable & worshipful man Hugh Bryce Alderman & Cytezeyn of london / entendyng to present the same

42 c a p i t a l a n d l i t e r a ry f o r m

Kuskin Ch 1

11/15/07

9:21 AM

Page 43

vnto the vertuous noble and puissaunt lord / wylliam lord hastynges lord Chamberlayn vnto the most Crysten kynge / kynge Edward the fourthe kynge of England & of ±raunce & etc and lieutenaunt for the same of the toun of Calais and marches there. (a4v) Caxton presents the book’s reproduction through a narrative of personal connections. His particular work with the press fits this history, not as radical break from manuscript production practices but as a tangible expression of social relations, of his patronage by Hugh Brice the alderman, who plans to present the book to William, Lord Hastings, who is, himself retained by Edward IV. Caxton takes part in these social relationships, and so he announces himself: “me symple persone william Caxton.” There is much else that Caxton could publicize, for he printed the Mirrour during a period of heavy investment in new technology: the Mirrour is printed in Type 2*, a new version of his standard type, somewhat cleaned up, which he brought out in late 1478 or 1479. Around this time he also purchased new “two-pull” presses, which introduced a carriage mechanism allowing the pressmen to print two halves of a folio sheet with one imposition to increase the speed of production, called “by the forme” printing.32 These innovations represent a significant financial investment in the commercial end of print production, and though Caxton does mention the book’s “coste and dispense,” he also accounts for it rather easily, suggesting that it can be defrayed by one man, wrapped up in the story of one book. Further, in his 1480 Chronicles of England (STC 9991), Caxton introduced another new type, Type 4, and made a number of changes to the look of his books: he justified line endings, giving his texts a more uniform look, and added printed signatures, of use to the binder in collating a book from its individual sheets. Instead of trumpeting these investments in hardware and evolutions in technique, Caxton emphasizes facts that make the book a social object: he gives its manuscript history, its Burgundian pedigree, its similarity to his source; he places it in a chain of patrons; he looks ahead to its use as a gift.33 If the master’s flinch evidences the potency of possession of the book, Caxton’s prologue echoes this to emphasize the authority of book culture over production; and if the mathematician woodcut acknowledges such production, it is as scribal work rather than printing. Prologue and page are of a piece: they both idealize the production process to foster a

a f f i x i n g va l u e 43

Kuskin Ch 1

11/15/07

9:21 AM

Page 44

connection between intellectual production and social consumption which elides the mechanics and economics of printing. That Caxton discusses literary production should not come as a surprise, for fifteenth-century literary culture is intensely interested in the construction of the vernacular book. Vernacular literary production expanded dramatically throughout the century: for example, Derek Pearsall and A. S. G. Edwards count some thirty extant English vernacular literary manuscripts from 1325 to 1400, and six hundred from 1400 to Caxton’s introduction of the press.34 After the development of the press, Lotte Hellinga and J. B. Trapp estimate, some 59 percent of books printed in England were in English, a striking number considering that on the Continent only 30 percent of fifteenth-century printed books were in vernacular languages.35 Clearly the laborers involved with book production during this period had to reflect upon what should constitute the vernacular book. What is surprising about Caxton’s prologue is that he should neglect the actual production process before him. For his is not the only way of depicting the early press. In fact, the first representation of a print shop, and the only fifteenth-century portrayal remaining, is a woodcut in the 1499 edition of La grante danse macabre des homes et des femmes, printed in Lyons by Matthias Hus (fig. 1.2).36 As a fifteenth-century genre, the danse macabre stems from the frescoes in the Hall of Columns in the cemetery of Innocents in Paris. This painting presented a procession of social stations moving from the pope through the nobility, citizens, and merchants, and finally coming to a hermit, a dead king, and a “maistre.” Each person is interrupted by “Le Morte,” not so much death as the self-same person as a corpse, rent in the abdomen.37 Two eightlined rhymed stanzas record Le Morte’s summons. The woodcuts in Hus’s edition follow those of Guy Marchant’s Latin edition of 1492, but the particular cut of the printer’s o¤ce and the “librarie” is unique. Indeed, it is the only woodcut in the book to depict the subjects in the midst of their work. Like Caxton, then, Hus is a printer of vernacular literature who works into his book a digression on literary production. To a large degree Hus follows the pattern set by Marchant. For example, Marchant’s woodcuts present the arcades visible here, regardless of whether the action takes place inside or outside. Hus adopts this framing mechanism, but also modifies it so the print shop and bookseller’s stall seem to be adjoining, two aspects of one process, if not two separate

44 c a p i t a l a n d l i t e r a ry f o r m

Kuskin Ch 1

11/15/07

9:21 AM

Page 45

Figure 1.2. The print shop. La grante danse macabre des homes et des femmes, b. Printed by Matthias Hus, Lyons, 1499. British Library IB. 41735. By permission of the British Library.

Kuskin Ch 1

11/15/07

9:21 AM

Page 46

rooms of one building. Space is at a premium in the print shop even before the ghouls arrive, and the printers are all elbows: the compositor almost bumps into the plank of the press; the pressmen work from the corners of the room. This closeness is only intensified by the amount of visible detail. All the compositor’s equipment is present: his copy sits before him, clipped into what appears to be a “visorium,” as he sets his type in his composing stick and transfers it to a two-page form. The pressmen work the press: one has folded the frisket and tympan down together and moved what looks like a two-pull press’s carriage into place. The press itself, twisting and flexing as its screw converts human strength into torque, further contributes to the overall closeness of the room because, braced as it is by massive wooden beams to the floor and ceiling, it towers over the room’s human occupants, comparable in size only to the corpses. Indeed, if we are to take the corpses as avatars of the humans in death (as all the literature on the danse macabre insists we must), then the press actually stands in for the third man’s corpse. The overall e±ect is to suggest activity—the flutter of the compositor’s fingers moving from case to stick and back, the action of the platen coming down upon the paper, form, and stone every fourteen to fifteen seconds—but also to freeze it at the moment of Le Morte’s arrival.38 One corpse touches the compositor, whose eyes have just turned up and whose brow is still vexed with concentration (or perhaps with the frustration of being distracted); another has seized the pressman’s hand at the very moment he releases (or reaches for) the bar; the beater looks on agape, holding one of his ink dabbers in midair. Read one way the woodcut is all motion, capturing the hustle and bustle of printing; read another way, it is entirely static, the taking of life caught forever on the printed page. The press is Le Morte and printing is death; conversely, print counters the anonymity of death by providing a permanent record of the workers’ labor. So Le Morte remarks, “A louurage on congnoise louurier” (From the work one can know the worker), because, for Hus, to put the print room in the danse macabre is to frame the moment at which human work becomes fixed in time: the printed page. Again, the discussion of book production is immersed in selfreflection so that the very depiction of printing becomes a kind of commentary on its historical nature. Caxton also sees the book as a marker of human e±ort against time, but his perspective is, somewhat surprisingly, as a reader not a printer.

46 c a p i t a l a n d l i t e r a ry f o r m

Kuskin Ch 1

11/15/07

9:21 AM

Page 47

Returning to The Mirrour of the World, Caxton discusses the value of literary production at the very beginning of his prologue. Like much of his writing, part of the prologue is lifted from his exemplar, and part of it is an original composition: Consideryng that wordes ben perisshyng / vayne / 7 forgeteful / And writynges duelle 7 abide permanent / as I rede Vox audita perit litera scripta manet / Thise thinges haue caused that the faites and dedes of Anncyent menn / ben sette by declaracion in fair and Aourned volumes / to thende that science and Artes lerned and founden of thinges passed myght be had in perpetuel memorye and remembraunce. (a4) Considerant que parolles sont 7 demeurent vaines et escriptures permanentes ont les fais des anciens este mis par declaracion en beaulx 7 aournes volumes A¤n que des sciences acquises et choses passees fust perpetuelle memoire39 Here Caxton adds the proverbial expression from Isidore of Seville’s Etymologies, “Vox audita perit, littera scripta manet” ( The heard voice perishes, the written letter remains).40 In the Huntington copy of the text, the phrase also appears on a ribbon drawn onto a woodcut so as to report the words of a master to his students. The sentiment is not far from Le Morte’s, and Caxton’s emphasis on the tangible durability of writing here is echoed in a number of his prologues, particularly in his discussion of “monumentis wreton” that endure through time in the 1483 edition of the Canterbury Tales (a2; STC 5083) and, before that, in his praise of “lyberal monumenties / whiche ben the permanente recordes of euery vyrtuouse and noble Acte” in the 1482 Polychronicon (a2v; STC 13438).41 This assessment of the material passage of historical knowledge in books comes, in the Polychronicon at least, from his reading of Poggio Bracciolini’s translation of Diodorus Siculus’s Bibliotheca historica.42 Diodorus conceived of the Bibliotheca historica as a historical library in a single book, an encyclopedia written so the Roman empire could know its world. Caxton finds in this preface an image of the private library “in whiche hystoryes so wreton in large and aourned volumes / he syttynge in his chambre or studye / may rede / knowe and understande the polytyke and noble

a f f i x i n g va l u e 47

Kuskin Ch 1

11/15/07

9:21 AM

Page 48

actes of alle the worlde as of one Cyte” (a2).43 Here is a library as a room exclusively for study, a chamber that opens inward to show to the reader “alle the worlde” (a phrase that apparently resounded for Caxton, who also used it in the prologue to the 1484 Ordre of Chyualry, STC 3326, now 3356.7, where he remarks that “the many large volumes” of King Arthur’s tales “is a world or a thyng incredyble to byleve”). Where the print shop of Hus’s woodcut is noisy and busy, claustrophobic with work and activity, Caxton’s chamber is encased in the quietude of books. If it finds any parallel in Hus’s woodcut at all, it is in the bookseller surrounded by stacks of books. Yet for Hus, the bookseller is adjacent to the print shop and the tasks of printing and reading appear in concert. In Caxton there is no attendant panel, and if there were it would look out to a world of manuscript production and patronage relationships. Caxton’s chamber is a secular cell, a place of solitary work cluttered with objects perhaps not unlike the mathematician’s writing desk but possessing a character peculiarly bookish, such as we might suppose belonged to a very well endowed monastery, but illustrating the work of a secular reader. Caxton virtually presents himself as Diodorus’s reader in one of his last literary translations, the 1490 Eneydos, where he writes, “I sittyng in my studye where as laye many dyuerse paunflettis and bookys. happened that to my hande cam a lytyl booke in frenshe . . . I delybered and concluded to translate it in to englysshe And forthwyth toke a penne 7 ynke and wrote a leef or tweyen / whyche I ouersawe agayn to corecte” (STC 24796; a1).44 Work in this study is remarkably passive: Caxton apparently sits there and little books in French happen to come into hand. Other readers come to consult: in the Mirrour, Hugh Brice submits his request; in the Eneydos, Abbot Eastlake brings “certayn euydences wryton in olde englysshe for to reduce it in to our englysshe now vsid / And certaynly it was wreton in suche wyse that it was more lyke to dutche than englysshe” (a1v ).45 The terms are always personal, and the image is drawn from a legacy of manuscript production in which to be a book producer is first to be a reader. Caxton knew these images from illuminations of Christine de Pizan (such as the British Library manuscript of Les proverbs moraulx, MS Harley 4431, fol.261v, which Anthony Woodville used for the translation that Caxton printed in 1478, STC 7273) and the manuscripts of John Lydgate’s poetic works.46 Yet even these images represent

48 c a p i t a l a n d l i t e r a ry f o r m

Kuskin Ch 1

11/15/07

9:21 AM

Page 49

a cleaning-up of the actual terms of labor for as several studies have demonstrated the vernacular manuscripts of the late medieval commercial book trade were no more composed by solitary craftsman than was the early modern book. Caxton postulates a late medieval romantic ideology, one that represses the labor of the print shop in favor of a technologically older yet still quite contemporary textual practice of book copying to suggest that writing and reading are two parts of the same action of textual reproduction. Thus he uses his own position as a printer to illustrate a form of consumption for his readers. In doing so he produces an intellectual context for the books that his shop produces in a more material fashion. Caxton writes his chamber as an imaginative location for books and people, and thus inscribes a mode of consumption within print production. For the nineteenth century, the library is living room and study, a repository for private indulgence that is also a place of public gathering and performance. The historical circumstances are di±erent for Caxton but nonetheless public. Caxton constructs himself as an occupant of Diodorus’s library, uninterested in the materials of production and entirely engrossed in the world of reading. If the nineteenth- and twentiethcentury libraries show us, generally, that the consumption of books is also a mode of social production, Caxton’s depiction of his study shows us that the mode of production constitutes a mode of consumption as well. All three libraries are as much symbolic constructions as they are physical places, and as such they speak their culture in ways beyond individual intention; in each case, however, the book appears as one element in a larger cycle of social production and consumption.

The Printer’s Mark: The Bibliography of Material Culture We can further understand the book as an object of fifteenth-century culture by turning to the printer’s mark, the trademark devices early printers used to identify their books.47 Without scribal precedent, the printer’s mark flourishes in print: H. M. Davies estimates that some 660 di±erent devices appear in the last third of the century.48 Caxton first used his device on two service books he imported from the Parisian printer Guillaume Maynyal, the 1487 Missale ad usum Sarum (STC 16164) and the

a f f i x i n g va l u e 49

Kuskin Ch 1

11/15/07

9:21 AM

Page 50

1488 Legenda ad usum Sarum (STC 16136).49 To identify these texts as his, he designed, or had designed for him, a device featuring his initials separated by an interlace pattern and ornamental surround with which he stamped these books when they arrived in England (frontispiece). This device appears on ten of Caxton’s subsequent editions, and there is a long tradition of reading it as dense with biographical detail.50 For instance, in his 1749 Typographical Antiquities, Joseph Ames suggested that the interlace design separating Caxton’s initials contained the numerals 7 and, in the loop that constitutes the left side of the pattern, an Arabic “4,” which he took to be a reference to 1474, the year he dated Caxton’s first book printed in England, The Game and Play of the Chess (STC 4920).51 In 1863 William Blades, disparaging of Ames’s rationale for The Game and Play of the Chess and convinced of his own theory that Colard Mansion taught Caxton to print in Bruges, updated the argument so that “74” referred to his candidate for the first English book, the Recuyell of the Histories of Troye, marking, as he put it, “an epoch to be commemorated.”52 Blades ultimately abandoned this reading, but more recently George D. Painter has revised it to argue that the numbers read both ways, as “1474” for the Recuyell, and as “1447,” the date he argues Caxton became a freeman in the Mercers’ guild.53 Each of these readings presupposes that Caxton should commemorate the advent of print through his own biography. Surely it is true that regardless of the obscurities within the interlace design, “W.C.” makes an unmistakable announcement of Caxton’s identity in print. Committed to reading the device as performing a memorial function, however, Caxton’s biographers have passed over a much more fundamental question: Why, in contrast to the anonymity of manuscript production, does the printed book evoke a biographical trademark at all? Framed in this way, the question behind the printer’s mark becomes not what does it commemorate? but what does it accomplish in the market for books? Stamped on the book, the printer’s mark operates much as does Caxton’s prose: it serves to articulate partially the symbolic relations of the existing circuit of production and consumption within which it makes identity and authority physical properties transferable to the reader as through retail sale. This suggests a much larger symbolic truth about books overall: books o±er their readers purchase on material culture. The printer’s mark on early English printing and culture is, therefore, to construct books as commodities in relation to the self.

50 c a p i t a l a n d l i t e r a ry f o r m

Kuskin Ch 1

11/15/07

9:21 AM

Page 51

Figure 1.3. Johannes Fust and Peter Schoeffer’s device. Justinian I, Institutiones. Printed by Peter Schoeffer, Mainz, 1476 (ISTC ij00512000). Bridwell Library Special Collections 06418a. By permission of the Bridwell Library Special Collections, Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University.

Originating in craftsmen’s and merchants’ marks, the printer’s mark takes four main forms: the Shield, the Orb and Cross, the Four and Orb, and the most common, the “Four,” which Davies explains stems particularly from thirteenth-century merchants’ marks.54 The first printer’s mark is Peter Schoe±er and Johannes Fust’s, two shields hanging from a bough stamped on the Vienna copy of the 1457 Mainz Psalter (fig. 1.3). The

a f f i x i n g va l u e 51

Kuskin Ch 1

11/15/07

9:21 AM

Page 52

psalter is also the first book to carry the place and date of its publication, as well as the name of its printer. The mark is suggestive of the way print di±ers from manuscript production in a number of ways: for instance, its two shields, representing Schoe±er’s mechanical expertise as a printer and Fust’s as the financial backer, combine craft skills with capital investment. The 1457 date of the Vienna Psalter, too, is telling, for the device appears on only one of the five remaining copies and does not appear again until the 1462 Bible, and even then only sporadically until 1469. This implies that the device was a later innovation, a postproduction addition created to invigorate in some way copies remaindered from the initial print run.55 Thus, the device speaks of a second and more general di±erence introduced by the press: the press is a machine of large-scale production. It not only needs capital investment to create its commodities, but these commodities must in turn be reconverted into capital in order to continue investment in pressmen’s wages, ink, and, above all, reams of paper. The ongoing nature of investment and reinvestment pressurizes the print production cycle so that, barring some exterior source of investment funds, printers had to strategize not just their next project but the overall market for their books. As David R. Carlson observes, “Something had to be done. The machines required to be busy, in order to generate returns on the labor and materials invested in them. At a profit or a loss, however, it remains their nature nevertheless: to produce.”56 The first printer’s mark indicates the complex nature of the introduction of print: it was not enough to set the machine in motion and reap its profits: without demand the press would fall dormant and fail to reproduce the terms for its operation. The machine’s productive capacity necessitated that demand be created through production strategies. The history of the printer’s mark, of the design stamped on various books and of the impact of fifteenth-century printing, is of such strategies. After 1469 a number of printers quickly adopted some version of Fust and Schoe±er’s mark as their own. In Rome, Ulrich Han made an exact copy of it for his 1470 Regulae cancellariae apostolicae, and in Cologne, Arnold ter Hoernen revised it into a single shield containing his own mark and his initials for his De remediis utriusque fortunae, issued on February 8, 1471. Caxton moved to Cologne in June 1471 and remained there for eighteen months, apparently financing folio editions of Bartholomaeus Anglicus’s encyclopedia, De proprietatibus rerum, the Gesta

52 c a p i t a l a n d l i t e r a ry f o r m

Kuskin Ch 1

11/15/07

9:21 AM

Page 53

Romanorum, and Walter Burley’s De vita et moribus philosophorum, all printed in 1472 by Johannes Schilling and Johannes Veldener.57 To what degree Caxton participated in this operation is unclear, but Ter Hoernen, Schilling, and Veldener were all either students or assistants of Ulrich Zell, the first Cologne printer. Trained by Schoe±er, Zell matriculated at the University of Cologne in 1464, purchased a press for 165 guilders soon after that, and began quarto production in 1466. The Cologne printing scene appears to have become increasingly competitive during this period: in 1472 Johann Koelho± the Elder arrived in Cologne from the overheated Venetian print market, and in 1473 Johann de Westphalia, also from Venice, matriculated at the university in Cologne, setting up with Thierry Martens in Alost before eventually settling in Louvain. Koelho±, especially, drove the smaller presses out of Cologne, north into the Low Countries; Veldener moved to Louvain, Schilling to Basel.58 For his part, Caxton returned to Bruges in late 1472 or early 1473 with two or three working presses, type, and a sta± of compositors and pressmen.59 In late 1473 or early 1474 he issued the Recuyell, The Game and Play of the Chess, and his French texts: the Recueil des Histories de Troie, Méditations sur les sept psaumes pénitentiaux, Histoire de Jason, and Cordiale quattuor novissimorum. With the exception of the Cordiale, these texts are printed in Type 1, a bâtarde (or bastarda) designed by Veldener and based upon the cursive script used by Burgundian scribes. Veldener’s typefaces were an intrinsic part of a growing interest in vernacular production in the Low Countries: when Zell established his Cologne press he used a semi-gothic (or textura) face reminiscent of Schoe±er’s Mainz press. By 1468, however, Ter Hoernen began printing vernacular authors using a bâtarde provided by Veldener and soon eclipsed Zell’s business. Veldener used his own type to print vernacular books as he moved from Louvain to Utrecht and then on to Culemborg in an attempt to avoid war.60 The significance of Veldener’s bâtarde typeface cannot be overemphasized. Veldener provided type for no fewer than thirteen printers in the Low Countries: his is the face both of early northern printing and of the vernacular language texts printed there. Caxton recognized this, and just as his Recuyell and the Game and Play of the Chess are the first books printed in English, his French texts are the first in French.61 When the third original printer’s mark appeared in Cologne on Nicolaus Gotz’s 1474 edition of the Meditationes vitae Christ, a single shield bearing his

a f f i x i n g va l u e 53

Kuskin Ch 1

11/15/07

9:21 AM

Page 54

name, Caxton not only had developed his own press but had also explored vernacular printing. The development of Caxton’s press can be read in his books’ composition as well as in their typefaces. For example, Wytze Hellinga and Lotte Hellinga point out that the Recuyell demonstrates how, on his own in Bruges, Caxton wrestled with the press: In the first phase of producing the Recuyell, there was a burst of activity involving several people who did not as a rule work together in producing one book. It is also possible that during this phase of intense activity, part of the text was set up in cooperation with two presses, but that when the pace slackened o±, and at the time that Compositors B and D were working at the text, they were unable to provide enough material to keep even one press going.62 The halting process that the Hellingas describe, anathema to a commercial operation, illustrates both Caxton’s learning curve and his ability to survive, for an initial period at least, as a noncommercial agent. Caxton’s early work during this period was apparently with Colard Mansion, and the contrast between the two underscores the significance of Caxton’s financial independence.63 Mansion was a founder of the Confrérie de St. Jean, a guild of Bruges scribes and booksellers. Dean of the guild from 1472 to 1473, he was patronized by the two greatest book collectors in Burgundy: Philip the Good and Louis de Bruges. Mansion’s printed work is comparable to Caxton’s on a number of counts: both initially printed with Veldener’s bâtarde face, both wrote their own translations and often accompanied them with prologues and epilogues, both used uneven line endings (a manuscript practice that was already out of favor with printers in the early 1470s, one Mansion did not give up until 1479, Caxton until 1480), and both favored similar texts even after Caxton returned to England, such as versions of Boethius’s De consolatione philosophiae and the Ovide Moralisé. But after Mansion began printing he also continued to write, as evidenced by his promise to Charles the Bold’s general, Philippe de Hornes, to copy “in his hand or the equivalent” Valerius Maximus’s Facta et dicta memorabilia in 1480. Although Caxton sold manuscripts, there is certainly no suggestion that “his hand” was a marketable commodity. Mansion’s printed books reflect the sensibility of one

54 c a p i t a l a n d l i t e r a ry f o r m

Kuskin Ch 1

11/15/07

9:21 AM

Page 55

who works on deluxe manuscripts: he planned nine copper engravings for his 1476 edition of Boccaccio’s De casibus vivorum illustrium, and he commissioned an expanded version of Caxton’s Type 2 for his 1484 Ovide Moralisé. Printed in such a large type, this edition, because of its cost, apparently bankrupted Mansion’s press, for afterward he fled Bruges to escape his creditors. Caxton almost always uses woodcuts as opposed to the more expensive copper engravings, and when he turns to long texts— such as Le Morte D’Arthur, the Polychronicon, and the Golden Legend—he uses a smaller type, Type 4, presumably to cut down on paper costs. In short, Mansion approaches the press as a scribe and this is clear in his printed work. Caxton comes to textual production with a powerful financial sensibility, and as the Hellingas point out, it is palpable in his products and in his ability to support the press as a start-up concern. By the time Caxton returned to England in late 1475, then, the practice of using the printer’s mark had taken hold throughout the Low Countries: Andreas Frisner and Johann Sensenschmidt used twin shields in Nuremberg; Veldener used two shields (one bearing his housemark, the other the arms of Louvain, where he worked); and Westphalia introduced his portrait mark the same year. The device is, therefore, a complex sign evoking the second generation of Continental printers’ encounter with the machine. In it we can read both the exploration of the early print market and some of the logic behind this exploration. Its initial appearance on the Mainz Psalter suggests, through the psalter’s remaindered status, the way Fust and Schoe±er attempted to move leftover copies by adding some sort of value to their product. The mark also tracks the development of printing across the Low Countries: Ter Hoernen’s and Gotz’s devices show a clear appropriation from Fust and Schoe±er and a willingness to experiment within the given structure, to alter the imagery available to them and make it their own; after all, they had adopted the technology of the press, why not also its sign? This experimentation can be felt in other ways as well: it involved aesthetic and mechanical exploration of typeface design and formation, conceptual exploration of capital investment, and organizational exploration of machine production; it involved an assessment of the vernacular market, and, for Caxton, a subsequent commitment to printing vernacular books. Indeed, if the printer’s mark signifies anything, it is the intertwined nature of technical and financial expertise which defines print as a

a f f i x i n g va l u e 55

Kuskin Ch 1

11/15/07

9:21 AM

Page 56

commercial form of literary production, one that relies on scale to recuperate its costs. In this larger context, Caxton’s device is not unique, in fact it is not even the first produced in England. That title belongs to the St. Albans Schoolmaster printer, who introduced the first English printer’s mark (fig. 1.4) on the 1483 St. Albans Chronicle (STC 9995), his first vernacular work and, though not a direct reprint of Caxton’s Chronicles of England, clearly a move into Caxton’s vernacular market.64 The Schoolmaster printer is best known for his last edition, the 1486 Boke of St. Albans (STC 3308). A folio of ninety leaves, this work combines four texts, signed in two discrete groups (a1–f8; 2a1–f10). The first signature contains the “booke of hawkyng” (a2–d4), followed by, as the prologue to the second book tells, a verse treatise on “the maner of hunting for all maner of beestys” (e1–f10), the final colophon of which attributes it to Juliana Berners:“¶ Explicit Dam Iulyans Bernes in her boke of hunting” (f4).65 The second signature is also composed of two parts, a “prima pars” presenting the “liber armorum” or “booke of . . . Coote armuris” (2a1–b5v), which begins with a biblical history for churls and gentlemen, itemizes gentlemanly behavior in some detail, and ends with a final blank leaf (2b6). This is followed by “the Blaysng of all maner armys in latyn french and English” (2a1), which enumerates the various symbols of heraldry (2c1–f9v). The book ends with the Schoolmaster’s printer’s mark (2f10) under which is printed, “¶Sanctus albanus,” followed by a final blank leaf. The groups of signatures, the blank leaves, and the separate colophons dividing the two books into two sections construct a sense of divided unity for the books, suggesting that they might exist separately but cohere, too, in an overall interest in the terms of aristocratic sport and imagery. Thus, George R. Keiser refers to the Boke of St. Albans as an “o±-the-rack miscellan[y].”66 And so it is. For in its lost reference to “Dam Iulyans Bernes,” in its use of vocabulary lists and scraps of poetry to round out its incomplete quires, in its yoking together of separate texts that are nevertheless, by degrees, centered around a common theme, it is a mass-produced commodity that suggests the idiosyncratic heterogeneity of a personal book. The Boke of St. Albans is a book of contradictions: though it provides a history for the interests of a landed aristocracy and emulates the very shape that such a history would come in, it is nonetheless made up of new forms and disseminated in a medium that seeks to make a return on investment through volume. 56 c a p i t a l a n d l i t e r a ry f o r m

Kuskin Ch 1

11/15/07

9:21 AM

Page 57

Figure 1.4. The Schoolmaster’s device. St. Albans Chronicle, K9. Printed by the St. Albans Schoolmaster Printer, St. Albans, c. 1485 (STC 9995). By permission of University of Chicago Library, Special Collections Research Center.

Kuskin Ch 1

11/15/07

9:21 AM

Page 58

The Boke of St. Albans’s rhetorical modes—taxonomy and instruction—appear to foreclose on any exploration of such contradictions. Everything in the Boke of St. Albans seems to be defined by the same literal logic by which “the huntyng of the haare” (e5v) is reduced to a set of protocols, or the company names—“an unkyndenes of Rauenes,” “a Synguler of Boris,” “a Noonpaciens of Wyues,” and “a multipliencs of husbondis,” and so forth (f6–f7)—are listed o±. So, the eagle appears, objectively, the first bird in a list of birds arranged according to social rank beginning with an emperor and moving all the way through to “Muskyte,” which is just as objectively presented as the only bird befitting a “holiwater clerke” (d3v –d4). This rhetorical style continues until the last book, “the blasyng of armys” (2c1), which focuses on heraldry, a topic, the text admits, too vast to cover in its entirety: “Bot for to reherce all the signys that be boren in armys as Pecok Pye Barr Dragon Lyon & Dolfyn and flowris and leeuys it war to longe a tariyng . ner I can not do hit : ther be so mony” (2c1). After proceeding through 117 colored woodcut shields, each with a short prose commentary, and a blaze in Latin, French, and English, the text finally breaks out of taxonomy and proposes a more general rule for understanding heraldry: Bot ye shall knaw generally that for all tharmys the wich lyghtly any man has seen in his days : ye haue rules su¤cient as I be leue. to dyscerne and blase any of theym : and it be so that ye be not in yowre mynde to hasty or to swyfte in the dyscernyng . Ner ye may not ouerryn swyftly the forsayd rules . bot dyligently haue theym in yowre mynde . and be not to full of consaitis . For he that will hunt ii haris in oon owre : or oon while oon . an other while an other lightly be losys both . Thefore take heede to the rules . I± so be that they be not a generall doctrine : yet shall thai profecte for thys sciens gretly (2f8v ) The passage suggests a system of analysis drawn from the process of description. This sense is at the heart of the verb to blaze, which the Oxford English Dictionary defines as “To describe heraldically, to blazon (v 2.3).” The OED first records this usage for 1440, explaining, “Its later history is confused with that of blazon, evidently through associating the infinitive blasen with the pre-existing n. blason, blazon ‘shield,

58 c a p i t a l a n d l i t e r a ry f o r m

Kuskin Ch 1

11/15/07

9:21 AM

Page 59

heraldic shield.’ The proper senses of blaze and blazon, acted and reacted upon each other in the 16th century . . . there may also be often traced an association with blaze v.1, as if to ‘blaze abroad,’ were to ‘expose to the full blaze of publicity.’” The entry under Blazon pushes this development back to the fifteenth century. Across the period, then, the noun for shield becomes the verb for analyzing and announcing the shield’s sign. The etymology suggests a compression of meanings by which the object becomes its own analysis, indeed, its own public announcement. The eighteenth-century sense of to gloss as to glaze (OED v 2.b.) presents a similar parallel between appearance and interpretation, but the relationship is never so close as with to blaze: glossing is premised on the insertion of a new word clarifying the original text, and its archetypal manifestation is the interlinear or marginal note; blazing asserts the description of the object itself as a form of analysis. Unlike glossing, blazing makes no direct hermeneutic claims, and unlike allegory, it does not move inward to a kernel of truth but instead remains skating along the surface of a sign, tracing out the details of the shell itself. The Boke of St. Albans’s “generall doctrine” is not doctrinal at all; it o±ers reading as an engagement with literal appearance. The illusion of such a system of reading as superficial description is that it is without depth of insight, that because it derives from and concentrates on the surface, its implications are by definition shallow. The Boke of St. Albans certainly is occupied with articulating the literal, but this does not preclude its recognition of the way objects conspire to a profound symbolic complexity. The text makes this point explicitly on its final leaf of prose. The first tract on heraldry, the “liber armorum,” o±ered a clear division between the gentlemen and the churls where it recounted that both kinds of men descended from Adam and Eve, but “Cayn bec[a]me a chorle and all his ofspryng after hym by the cursing of god and his owne fadre adam ¶ And Seth was made a gentilman thorow his fadres and moderis blissyng . And of the ofspryng of Seth Noe come a gentilman by kynde” (2a1v). So Noah divided the world among his sons: to Ham, the churl, he gives “Europe that is to say the contre of churlys”; to Japheth, “the West parte of the Worlde. And to the occident ende . . . that is to say the contre of gentilmen”; and to Shem, “the oryente thow shal take . . . that is to say the contre of tempurnes” (a2). Here social distinction appears embedded in biblical history and inscribed across the

a f f i x i n g va l u e 59

Kuskin Ch 1

11/15/07

9:21 AM

Page 60

surface of the earth. The book’s final pages would seem to follow this out by arguing that coats of arms, too, are inherited “of owre fadyrs or of owre moodyr or of owre predycesessoris” (2f 8 v ). Yet the very final passage ultimately turns away from such a conclusion in its closing remarks that anyone may assume a coat of arms: ¶ The faurith maner of whise we haue thoos armys the wich we take on owre awne propur auctoritie . as in theys days opynly we se . how many poore men by thayr grace fauoure laboure or deseruyng : ar made nobuls Sum by theyr prudens . Sum bi ther manhod . sum bi ther strength . sum bi ther coning . sum bi od jusituys And of theys men mony by theyr awne autoritie haue take armys to be borne to theym and to ther hayris of whom it nedys not here to reherse ye namys . Neuer the lees armys that be so takyn they may lefully and freely beer . Bot yit they be not of so grete dignyte and autorite as thos armys the wich ar grauntyt day by day by the autorite of a prynce or of a lorde . Yet armys bi a mannys propur auctorite take : if an other man haue not borne theym afore : be of strength enogh. (2f9r–v) As with the entire book, the argument begins with taxonomy—all the ways one may come to arms—and this lends it a sense of concrete reasoning. Prepared for by the earlier argument that gentlemen are made so by biblical precedent, the reader might expect disparagement of social mobility, “as in theys days opynly we se.” Instead, the book moves away from this taxonomy to suggest that “a mannys propur auctorite . . . be of strength enogh” to assume a coat of arms. Rather than fixed in history and passed on through inheritance, heraldry—the mark of a gentleman— is a tangible sign of authority dating back to Cain and Abel which may “yet” be taken up by “proper” (OED, 1.A., “intrinsic”) authority in the present. Here, then, is the central contradiction of Boke of St. Albans: on its surface—in its emulation of the personal manuscript, its attentiveness to birds and shields as discrete objects—it appears to view the material forms of authority as literal, fixed by predetermined categories that it has no part in shaping; within its governing logic, however, it recognizes that all these objects—shields, birds, and by extension books—are markers of authority in a wider context and in fact are constituted through individual

60 c a p i t a l a n d l i t e r a ry f o r m

Kuskin Ch 1

11/15/07

9:21 AM

Page 61

participation. The method is superficial but nonetheless profound; for by remaining descriptive rather than becoming didactic, the Boke of St. Albans avoids its fundamental contradiction to a large degree. So the aristocratic buyer may recognize the book’s peculiar “o± the rack” qualities but still be assured that the basic distinction between the descendents of Abel and those of Cain can be read in the contemporary signs of hunting and heraldry; just so, a more variegated class of readers— the clerks and merchants of Oxford, the minor gentry, anyone who might have free time enough to aspire to the rather loose social category of “gentleman” over “churl”—may appropriate those same objects for themselves, not by consciously thinking through the abstract implications of authority but by simply purchasing the book and relishing its description and evocation of the materials that define his or her culture. In short, the St. Albans Schoolmaster o±ers his readers a bibliography for material culture. Like Caxton before him, and Hus after him, the Schoolmaster printer reflects on printing in a way that suggests he is not only interested in producing vernacular literature, but in engaging his audience in the process of reading the printed book. For example, the St. Albans Chronicle opens with a short rubric explaining the use of signatures as a table of contents for the uninitiated: “Here begynnys a schort & breue tabull on thes Cronicles And ye must vnderstond yt eueri leef is markid vnder with A. on .ii. iii . & iiij. & so forth to viij . all the letters . an what sum euer ye fynd shortli writin in this table . ye shall find oppenli in the same letter” (a). The Schoolmaster’s emphasis is chiefly bibliographical, on the description of the page, and on identifying marks on leaves. Yet this material interest is pointed at a social context. Signatures are technically an aid to the binder; the Schoolmaster printer has turned this production system into an aid for consumption so as to teach his buyer to read the book, not as a process of construing letterforms into sounds (which he seems to assume his readers can already do) but by teaching his readers to move around the surface of the book as an object. The Schoolmaster e±ectively reproduces an instrument of production (the signature) as one of consumption (the index). The St. Albans Chronicle and the Boke of St. Albans are similar: they both come late in the Schoolmaster printer’s career, and are his only vernacular works and his only folio editions. They are both printed in multiple colors. Thus though they may both appear to follow

a f f i x i n g va l u e 61

Kuskin Ch 1

11/15/07

9:21 AM

Page 62

out traditional manuscript genres, history, and heraldry, they are also overtly innovative, moving into the vernacular by exploiting new technological practices, and further, by assuming a first-person voice in their various prologues and colophons, which, if not as personable as Caxton’s, still speak directly to the reader. This self-reflective quality, in which one mode turns into the next, is inherent in bibliography: derived from the Greek word for book writing, its earliest English meaning, first recorded in 1678, is not about the research into or description of books so much as their creation: bibliography is the writing of books (OED, no.1). Concerned with both the production (writing) and consumption (use, description, and cataloguing) of books, bibliography encompasses both ends of book use. A bibliography of material culture would apply this logic outward, doubling the production of books with its consumption as a model for commodities overall. To put the implications of my argument somewhat plainly, then, I suggest that the study of early printing has tended to forget this aspect of bibliography and to concentrate almost exclusively on the description of early books and the taxonomy of early printers. As a result bibliography as a field has avoided any serious engagement with the relationship between production and consumption, and with the symbolic elements of the book. Thus, much writing on early printing tends to read like the first three sections of the Boke of St. Albans, fascinating for its detail but strangely literal, as if it is uninterested in the larger questions of authority that underwrite the entire field. The Boke of St. Albans is significant for many reasons—it is one of the first uses of the printer’s mark in England; the first printed treatise on hawking, heraldry, and hunting; the first use of red, black, and yellow printing in England—and one of them is because it reflects on the symbolic power of commodities to evoke authority. The Boke of St. Albans’s process of reflection is intrinsic to what makes it a book, and as such is part of, and not opposed to, bibliographical analysis. Such a self-reflective bibliographic mode gives the Boke of St. Albans a particularly autoexegetical quality, for ultimately the Boke of St. Albans invites the reader to turn its lessons upon itself. A number of the individual elements of the Schoolmaster’s mark are illustrated in the Boke of St. Albans: 2e6v shows the “tractys in armys” (fig. 1.5) that appears within the Schoolmaster’s orb, and 2f4v presents a “Saltori a maner of a cros” (fig. 1.6), a sign that “were geuyn to rich men” (2f5), a very close approximation

62 c a p i t a l a n d l i t e r a ry f o r m

Kuskin Ch 1

11/15/07

9:21 AM

Page 63

Figure 1.5. The “tractys in armys.” Boke of St. Albans, 2e6v. Printed by the St. Albans Schoolmaster Printer, St. Albans, c. 1485 (STC 3308). British Library IB.55712. By permission of the British Library.

Kuskin Ch 1

11/15/07

9:21 AM

Page 64

Figure 1.6. The “Saltori a maner of a cros.” Boke of St. Albans, 2f4v. Printed by the St. Albans Schoolmaster Printer, St. Albans, c. 1485 (STC 3308). British Library IB.55712. By permission of the British Library.

Kuskin Ch 1

11/15/07

9:21 AM

Page 65

to his variation on the cross. More broadly, from the Mainz Psalter onward, the use of shields for a printer’s mark makes an obvious connection between them and the signs of heraldry. Sylvia L. Thrupp notes a specific doubling between heraldry and the term mark in Harley MS 2259, which she describes as “the heraldic treatise compiled in 1454–5, which bears the name R. Strangeways, had also placed the origin of arms at the siege of Troy. At first called ‘marks,’ they were not called arms, it says, until after ‘brute and his knyghtis’ had settled in England.”67 In the passage under the rubric “How longe Cote armures wer begunne afore thyncarnacion of owre lorde Ihesu cryst,” the Schoolmaster too describes the founding of heraldry before Christ at the siege of Troy: Iafeth made first Barget and ther in he made a ball in token of all the worlde . and afterwarde . iix x . yere and . xxiij . before thyncarnacion of Criste : Cote armure was made . and figurid at the sege of troye where in gestys troianorum it tellith that the first begynnyng of the lawe of armys was . the wiche was essugured and begunne before any lawe in the worlde . bott the lawe of nature . and before the . x . comawndementis of god (2a2r–v ) The passage locates the founding moment of the blaze, the moment of inscription at which the shield and the sign of the shield become one before the coming of Christ at the founding moment of European mythology. This doubling of the shield and the sign on that shield recurs in the Schoolmaster printer’s own mark: for where Japheth inscribes a ball on his shield to begin the practice of cote amure for history, the Schoolmaster inscribes a shield on a ball to introduce the English printed trademark. Both of these moments are assertions of authority, and in the Schoolmaster’s case it is also a moment of twofold appropriation: appearing initially on a work lifted from Caxton’s own catalogue, the Schoolmaster’s mark represents the “Orb and Cross” style, first used at the monastic press at Rostock in 1476 by the Brothers of the Common Life. This device was the first used in Germany not based on Fust and Schoe±er’s design and was widely disseminated in a version introduced in 1481 on Johannes de Colonia’s and Nicolas Jenson’s Lectura super Clementinas (fig. 1.7).68 Jenson’s device suggests the imperial orb, dividing the globe into three sectors and locating Jerusalem.69 The Schoolmaster

a f f i x i n g va l u e 65

Kuskin Ch 1

11/15/07

9:21 AM

Figure 1.7. Johannes de Colonia’s and Nicolas Jenson’s device. Lectura super Clementinas. Printed by Johannes de Colonia and Nicolas Jenson, Venice, 1481. British Library IC.20368. By permission of the British Library.

Page 66

Kuskin Ch 1

11/15/07

9:21 AM

Page 67

appropriates a sign from Jenson, stamps it onto his version of a title lifted from Caxton’s portfolio, and follows it up with the very text that explains his practice. In e±ect, he asserts that since “an other man haue not borne” these particular arms “afore” he “be of strength enogh” to bear them himself. The Boke of St. Albans blazes it own mark. We can see exactly this sort of self-conscious appropriation in the English printer’s marks of the early sixteenth century. Briefly, upon Caxton’s death, de Worde took over his business, moving it to Fleet Street in London in 1500. De Worde used a number of di±erent devices throughout his career, all of which draw upon Caxton’s initials and interlace design. His last mark, introduced on his 1520 edition of Robert Whittington’s Syntaxis (STC 25547) and passed on to John Byddell upon his death, is particularly synthetic (fig. 1.8). This device combines a stylized version of Caxton’s original with elements referring to de Worde’s own operation: the sun stands for his shop at the sign of the sun on Fleet Street, and the roses for the house of Lancaster, important to de Worde after 1494 when he adopted the title “The King’s Mother’s Printer,” referring to his client Margaret Beaufort. De Worde reproduces Caxton’s device as one of a set of signs authorizing his press. What is striking here is the way these signs are repeated: Caxton’s device appears three times, on the center shield and on the movable upper and lower borders; de Worde’s sun recurs twice; the Lancastrian rose five times, once in the center and then on all four corners of the borders; and the whole device is actually repeated on both the recto and verso sides of the page. Indeed, the device’s design is, in fact, a much larger repetition of one made the year before by Ambrose Holbein for the Basel printer Johannes Froben (fig. 1.9). De Worde has merely had the arches, martial figures, and cherubs cut away and then inserted his own insignia. Just as the Schoolmaster used Jenson’s design, de Worde uses Holbein’s as a contemporary frame for presenting an array of signs pointing to his authority, in a sort of collage of repetition highlighting his inheritance from Caxton, his location, and his noble client. Similarly, Richard Pynson’s first device demonstrates how aware these early printers were of the symbolic nature of appropriation. Pynson bought out the remains of de Machlinia’s press some time after 1486 and began printing on his own after 1489.70 Pynson’s first editions were two English law books printed by Guillaume Le Tailleur of Rouen,

a f f i x i n g va l u e 67

Kuskin Ch 1

11/15/07

9:21 AM

Page 68

Figure 1.8. Wynkyn de Worde’s device. Robert Whittington, Syntaxis, G4v. Printed by Wynkyn de Worde, London, 1520 (STC 25547). British Library C.40.e.1.(5.). By permission of the British Library.

Kuskin Ch 1

11/15/07

9:21 AM

Page 69

Figure 1.9. Johannes Froben’s device ( by Ambrosius Holbein). Desiderius Erasmus, Moriae Encomium. Printed by Johannes Froben, Basle, 1519. British Library 1080.k.3. By permission of the British Library.

Kuskin Ch 1

11/15/07

9:21 AM

Page 70

Thomas Littleton’s Tenures (STC 15721), and Nicholas Statham’s Abridgment des libres annales (STC 23238; fig. 1.10). These books bear Le Tailleur’s mark, one Pynson seems to have used as a basis for his own, which first appears in his 1491/92 Canterbury Tales (STC 5084; fig. 1.11), a reprint of Caxton’s edition. Both marks are designed as weavings of the printers’ initials: in Tailleur’s case, playing o± his profession as a tailor, in Pynson’s, his as a glover. Indeed, some copies of the Tenures have this new design stamped on them. Like the Schoolmaster printer’s mark, then, Pynson’s mark reveals the series of appropriations he used to secure his position in the market. Appropriation is endemic to the genre: the very mark that identifies Pynson is in fact purchased with the rest of his stock by Robert Redman after Pynson’s death. Richard Pynson’s initials are thus reproduced as “R.R.” for Robert Redman throughout the 1530s. Redman’s widow, Elizabeth Pickering, even uses Pynson’s original mark in her 1541 edition of the Magna Carta (STC 9275). This seamless passage obscures Pynson’s antagonistic relationship to Redman: while Pynson was alive Redman reprinted an edition of the Magna Carta giving his address as Pynson’s old shop at the sign of the George in St. Clement’s parish just outside Temple Bar. At that time, Pynson’s location was also at the sign of the George, but in St. Dunstan’s parish, just inside Temple Bar. Redman seems to have intended some confusion here, as he went on to reprint Pynson’s own titles under the sign of the George, and used a slightly modified version of one of his later marks (STC 9272; fig. 1.12). Pynson immediately reissued these titles, objecting to Redman’s practice and quality by nicknaming him “Rudeman” in a letter to the reader.71 To sum up: the development of the printer’s mark illustrates some crucial terms for early English printing. It shows the way the press developed a heraldry for itself that combines craft and mercantile sensibilities, and emphasizes an overall practice of appropriation. In this, it broaches a general fact about print production: print may be an example of mechanized production, but its insertion into manuscript culture was not automated. Printers had to think through relationships of supply and demand in order to ensure that consumption grew in pace with production. This immersion in strategy gives the early printed book both a tremendously naïve sense—witness the Schoolmaster’s instructions to his reader as to how to move around his text—that is correspondingly sophisticated, an ongoing reflection on the nature of textual change. If any aspect of the

70 c a p i t a l a n d l i t e r a ry f o r m

Kuskin Ch 1

11/15/07

9:21 AM

Page 71

Figure 1.10. Guillaume Le Tailleur’s device. Nicholas Statham, Abridgment des libres annales, z7v. Printed by Guillaume Le Tailleur (for Richard Pynson), Rouen, 1490 (STC 23238). British Library IB.43928. By permission of the British Library.

Kuskin Ch 1

11/15/07

9:21 AM

Page 72

Figure 1.11. Richard Pynson’s device. Geoffrey Chaucer, Canterbury Tales, k5v. Printed by Richard Pynson, St. Clement Danes, c. 1492 (STC 5084). British Library G.11588. By permission of the British Library.

Kuskin Ch 1

11/15/07

9:21 AM

Page 73

Figure 1.12. Robert Redman’s device. The Boke of Magna Carta with Diuers other Statues, f. 200v. Printed by Robert Redman, London, 1534 (STC 9272). British Library C.112.a.6. By permission of the British Library.

printed book is paradoxical, it is this simultaneous urge to proclaim the superficially obvious and the knowingness that any such proclamation implies. The importance of the printer’s mark is that it is a sign of market development, a visual poetic of commerce that describes a graphic process of engagement with the reader and indicates the symbolic depth

a f f i x i n g va l u e 73

Kuskin Ch 1

11/15/07

9:21 AM

Page 74

of the printed page. I term the study of this printed page symbolic bibliography. More specifically, the fifteenth-century printers’ mark on English literary history concerns the importance of vernacular-language books. For soon after Caxton’s return to England three other printers begin operating there too. In 1478 an anonymous printer in Oxford issued texts featuring Jerome, Aristotle, and Aegidius de Columna: the Exposicio sancti Ieronimi (STC 21443), followed by two texts in the same typeface, the Libri ethicorum (STC 752) and the Tractatus de peccato originali (STC 158).72 In 1479 the Schoolmaster printer published his first text, the Libellus super Tullianis elegantiis (STC 6289); and in 1480 John Lettou, a Lithuanian trained in Rome and apparently working with an English draper, William Wylcoks, as a financier or partner, printed the Quaestiones super xii libros metaphysicae (STC 581) and number of indulgences. These printers’ early output is halting, but clearly aware of and interesting to Caxton: the Oxford printer used signatures before Caxton, and both the Schoolmaster printer and Lettou adopted a type similar to his.73 By 1482 each of these presses seems to have experienced a pause in production, and in London and Oxford this was accompanied by a change of personal: E. Gordon Du± records the Schoolmaster printer as printing nothing in 1482 and only three other texts afterward; an undated edition of Thomas Littleton’s Tenores nouelli (STC 15719) shows Lettou as joined by William de Machlinia, from Mechlins, who ultimately bought out his operation and married his wife, Elizabeth North, also an alien, in 1483;74 in 1480 the Oxford printer is replaced by a Cologne printer, Theodoric Rood, first recorded in the colophon to the Expositio super tres librios Aristotelis de anima (STC 314). Throughout the mid-1480s this new group of printers moves toward vernacular titles and English writers. In London, after Lettou’s death, William de Machlinia shifts his business from an exclusive focus on law books to political tracts such as the Promise of Matrimony (STC 9176), and titles of more general interest, such as the 1485 Treatise on the Pestilence (STC 4590, 4591), a reprint of Caxton’s Chronicles of England (STC 9993), and, more speculatively, John Kay’s Siege of Rhodes (STC 4594). After the appearance of Rood, the Oxford press has a more English quality, too, and behind the Latin titles during this period are a number of commentaries or editions by English writers: in 1482 Rood printed the Long parvula (STC 23163.13), a Latin grammar by John

74 c a p i t a l a n d l i t e r a ry f o r m

Kuskin Ch 1

11/15/07

9:21 AM

Page 75

Stanbridge with English instructions, and the Liber moralium super threnis Ieremiae, by John Lathbury (STC 15297); in 1483, with Thomas Hunte, he printed the Compendium totius grammaticae (STC 695), by John Anwykyll, a master at Magdalen College (d. 1486), which is followed in one copy (separately noted as STC 696) by an edition of Terence’s Vulgaria quedam abs Terencio in Anglica[m] linguam traducta, an edition of Terence with English interlinear translation in continuous register with the grammar (STC 23904). Rood also printed the text of the Constitutiones prouincials ecclesiae Anglicanae (STC 17102), edited by William Lyndewode, the Explanationes notabiles deuotissimi viri Richardi Hampole heremite (STC 21261), by Richard Rolle, and, in 1483, the [Q]uonia[m] ex t[er]mi[ni]s fiu[n]t p[ro]po[si]c[ion]es (STC 16693), which includes the “Insolubilia,” by Richard Swineshead. In 1485 he printed the Epistolae of Phalaris (unlisted by STC, Du± 348) containing a prologue by court poet Petrus Carmelianus, and in 1486 an edition of John Mirk’s Liber Festivalis (STC 17958), a text of English sermons printed by Caxton a few years before (STC 17957). What appears to have happened in the early 1480s, then, is a process of self-reflection on business strategy, resulting in a coherent move toward vernacular production—what N. F. Blake refers to as “a strong English association”—by printers who had either observed Caxton’s practices or come to the same conclusion themselves: English printing must focus on English texts.75 Rather than a robust turnaround through the strategic use of vernacular titles, however, by 1486 all the printers other than Caxton disappear. Thus we see both St. Albans and de Machlinia introducing vernacular titles at the end of their careers. The topicality of their work is clear: Du± records de Machlinia as turning out three editions of the Treatise on the Pestilence (one with the first English title page; STC 4591); and the Boke of St. Albans is reprinted by de Worde (with an added treatise on fishing) in 1496 (STC 3309) and in 1518 (STC 3309.5), and no fewer than thirteen times under various titles in the sixteenth century. As early as 1484 Richard III’s Parliament instituted legislation enabling foreign labor to operate in the English market without restriction.76 Nonetheless, the market appears to have su±ered a tremendous delay in which production outstripped demand. This is the exact period in which Caxton invested heavily in new types and presses. Appearing in 1487—a year after the other printers had given up—Caxton’s mark announces his monopoly on

a f f i x i n g va l u e 75

Kuskin Ch 1

11/15/07

9:21 AM

Page 76

English print production and importation, indeed, from what we can tell, on the entire trade in printed books.77 Though this reveals Caxton’s ultimate success, it is not entirely triumphant. Paul Needham’s most recent chronology of Caxton’s editions based on watermark evidence shows Caxton printing only four texts between 1487 and 1488: The Book of Good Manners (STC 15394), the second edition of the Quattuor sermones (STC 17957), the Festum transfigurationis Iesu Christi (STC 15854), the Commemoratio lamentationis (STC 17534), and, hypothetically, the single-sheet Image of Pity (STC 14077.6). Taken with Caxton’s two liturgical imports, his emphasis during this period actually demonstrates a turn away from vernacular titles with the Festum and the Commemoratio. The period after 1483 is indeed a “lean time” for printers in England, not because of a crisis of patronage surrounding Richard III’s court—Richard’s Parliament seems to have tried to energize the print market—but because of the intense production of vernacular works throughout the middle of the century. It is in this context that the printer’s mark signifies: though Rood and his partner Thomas Hunte in Oxford, and de Machlinia in London all used colophons naming their operations during their careers, only Caxton and the Schoolmaster use marks. With the resumption of the market after 1488, and after Caxton’s death in 1491/92, the new printers on the English scene—de Worde, Pynson, and Julian Notary and Jean Barbier—all cultivated their marks with some care. In the wake of the collapse of the English print market, anonymity ceases to be the rule. The history of the English printer’s mark is a twofold process: on one level it entails the overall reflection on book production and consumption; more specifically it concerns a reflection on the vernacular nature of the English market. These two processes coalesce in the stamp of personal identity, which extends the circuit of vernacular production and consumption to the individual English reader. With this background we can now turn to the multiple layers of meaning within Caxton’s mark.78 On one layer, it o±ers the St. Albans Schoolmaster a twofold answer: stamped on Caxton’s liturgical imports, it signals his turn to the Latin liturgical market in the same way that the Schoolmaster introduced his mark when he moved into Caxton’s vernacular market. Thus it contrasts the Schoolmaster’s “Orb” with the elaborate “four” design that asserts Caxton’s particular biography as an English merchant. I discuss Caxton’s commercial operations in the Low

76 c a p i t a l a n d l i t e r a ry f o r m

Kuskin Ch 1

11/15/07

9:21 AM

Page 77

Countries in the next chapter; here I would like to emphasize that Caxton repeatedly identifies himself as a Mercer in his prologues and epilogues. Mercers were chiefly involved in the export of English cloth, where the other main guild concerned with export to the Continent, the Staplers, was primarily concerned with shipments of raw wool to the English staple at Calais. Still, individual merchants often held dual membership in both guilds; as E. M. Carus-Wilson, writes, “Wise merchants became members of both companies.”79 Caxton was no exception, and Louise Gill has recently brought forward a 1483 pardon that clearly identifies Caxton as belonging to both guilds.80 Considering Caxton as a Mercer and a Stapler is important for a number of reasons. In terms of his biography, it clarifies Caxton’s activities during the late 1450s. For example, there are two charters referring to William Caxton of the Staple of Calais, dated 1453 and 1458 respectively. The first accuses Caxton of concealing sa±ron in a cask bound up with a larger shipment of luxury goods, cloth, furs, silk, and ermine; the second allows him safe conduct into Bruges as part of a diplomatic party taking part in the Anglo-Burgundian negotiations; a third, unrelated document, records a William “Caston” as purchasing a manuscript translated in Calais and bound in Flanders.81 As Mercer and Stapler Caxton is an entrepreneur using both cloth and wool export venues to generate capital for reinvestment in other commodities. Caxton’s silence around his own role as a Stapler, as well as his absolute silence about the economic conditions of the press in general—the price of press, paper, binding, and finished books; the number and kind of laborers he hired; his relationship with de Worde—should remind us that his biography is very much a construction, as much a fiction as his role as a dull-witted bibliophile at the beck and call of his patrons. There are clear reasons for Caxton to want to streamline his economic identity: during his tenure abroad the Mercers’ guild took increasing control of the Merchant Adventurers and solidified their identity as a Yorkist political group.82 London-based English economic power progressively favored the products the Mercers shipped—finished cloth—over raw wool after the 1460s. Caxton’s identity as a Mercer thus serves to present him as a corporate entity, a guild member rather than an entrepreneur. In this, it writes what is improvisational in Caxton’s background—his career as a trader moving between guilds, at times skirting the law, always dealing in economic

a f f i x i n g va l u e 77

Kuskin Ch 1

11/15/07

9:21 AM

Page 78

risk—as coherent and institutionally a¤liated. We should not assert simply that Caxton was a Mercer as an explanation in and of itself without recognizing the complexity inherent in mercantile identity. If the device contains a message at all, then, it is in this parallel between these two English commodities, wool and cloth: the arching of the so-called Arabic four forming a loop through which the seven pierces— like thread through the eye of a needle—suggests both the wool Caxton dealt with as a Stapler and the cloth he traded in as a merchant. The decorative paneling and the embroidered leaves contribute a third layer to this parallel, this time between textile and textual commodities, for at once they make the device appear a swatch of cloth and, as its left-hand vertical band doubles the entire image into the stamped cover, a bound book.83 D. F. McKenzie reminds us that this play between books and weaving was not unknown to the Middle Ages: “We can find in the origins of the word ‘text’ itself some support for extending its meaning from manuscripts and print to other forms. It derives, of course, from the Latin texere, ‘to weave.’”84 Rather than pointing to an economic system comfortably situated within a romance world of quiet hierarchies, of Mercers and Staplers inhabiting mutually exclusive categories, Caxton’s biography demonstrates the entrepreneurial nature of medieval commerce; taken with his continual insistence on his identity as a Mercer, it suggests his attempt to give this free-form environment definition. Caxton’s claim to be a Mercer renders corporate an economic field that is, in fact, largely improvisational, hierarchical what is deeply competitive; in turn, his mark is a graphic assertion that writing and weaving belong to the same field of commerce. Guild “existence suggests a degree of order and coherence in the structure of medieval industry,” writes Heather Swanson, “a precision in the definition of artisan employment that is in fact quite illusory,” and more abstractly, the mark extends this coherence to the purchaser of the book, o±ering it not just as a commodity within the world of known commodities, but as one given order and coherence by Caxton’s biographical experience and expertise.85 The mark is both a sign of Caxton’s success in this market and symbol of his authority over it, and this is what the book o±ers the individual purchaser. Caxton’s chamber, his prologues and epilogues, and his device, too, perform the same function: they mold otherwise chaotic market practices into a coherent shape.

78 c a p i t a l a n d l i t e r a ry f o r m

Kuskin Ch 1

11/15/07

9:21 AM

Page 79

In part, then, the printers’ mark is entirely generic: hence the stylistic tropes—the various fours, orbs, and shields—that form the devices’ vocabulary. Paradoxically, it is also entirely individual: it imprints individual identity—Fust and Schoe±er, Ter Hoernen, Gotz, Veldener, Caxton—onto a specific book. The relationship between the generic and the singular signifies a relationship between property (the books shipped across the Channel) and identity (the bold “W. C.”) as an abstraction and as a specification. That is, it o±ers the book as not just a product but as a product marked with a symbolic valence. In doing so it embodies a model for commodity consumption in a condensed form, for private property is always a movement of appropriation from the generic to the individual. This is an important di±erence from manuscript production, for it announces a shift in the mode of production of objects—the increase in volume, for instance, that makes wholesale importation viable—that is also a shift in the symbolic relations surrounding the book’s consumption by its audience. The printer’s mark signifies not only the spread of printing but also a logic of appropriation that accompanies this spread: it registers how various printers appropriate from one another as the technology of the press moves across the Continent, and marks each product as enabling a secondary appropriation by the individual consumer. If the printing press is a physical machine for the literal production of objects of knowledge, the trademark device is a symbolic machine for the production of these objects’ larger meaning. Physical and symbolic, the printer’s mark is not simply reflective of the political economy; it is productive of that economy as well. In this lies a mandate: bibliographical study cannot restrict itself to the object of the book, for to do so is to separate o± the book from the totality of cultural production that creates the individual.

Caxton’s biographers have sought to find something to celebrate in the act of printing and have told a history in which fours and sevens speak less of commerce than of Caxton’s awareness of the historical significance of the press. In this they have read the device as participating in the history it would create from the perspective of a connoisseur rather than a capitalist. Such a reading romanticizes Caxton’s endeavor and obscures his biography; indeed, it accepts the persona Caxton creates prima facie and looks for depth of meaning in the fours and sevens. From Caxton’s perspective the trademark had more pressing work

a f f i x i n g va l u e 79

Kuskin Ch 1

11/15/07

9:21 AM

Page 80

to do: it had to produce his role as a commercial, indeed as the commercial agent on the book. It accomplished this not in coded depth but in a symbolic level of meaning that remains entirely on the surface of the page. Freed of its commemorative relationship to history, the printer’s mark acts as a sign lifted from commerce and applied to the object of the book as a symbol of its mode of production. In this, the device accomplishes the same function as the modern and postmodern library: it implies an order for books as a metaphor for social organization. To answer the question of the relationship between print production and biography embedded in the printer’s mark, then, I o±er the following: the printer’s mark consolidates the individual into an identity, and makes that identity available for public consumption. It describes the book as a particular printer’s work, a form of property transferable to the reader through retail sale, but never entirely divorced from its maker. Thus, it articulates a relationship between the individual and the book in which the individual is organized by the book, but also by implication beyond it, in ways incoherent.

80 c a p i t a l a n d l i t e r a ry f o r m

Kuskin Ch 2

11/15/07

9:29 AM

Page 81

Chapter Two

Reading Caxton Capital and the Alchemical Logic of the Press

The early printed book’s authority is complex: a combination of the work’s authorial and exemplary authority clearly, but also an expression of the social and political authority vested in the various audiences that sponsored its initial production in manuscript and its subsequent reproduction in print. Readings of William Caxton traditionally rely on the categories of patronage and commerce to explain his press’s relationship to this authority.1 Whether patronage and commerce fully encompass the complexities of textual production during any period of the Middle Ages is beyond the scope of this book; however, in Caxton’s case the terms have done a particular disservice. Caxton’s prologues and epilogues move between the issues of patronage and commerce rather freely; in insisting on a static opposition of these categories—that Caxton viewed his work according to one process or the other—we obscure both the cultural context in which he operated and his specific contribution to literary history. In an e±ort to understand better Caxton’s early construction of the printed book’s authority, I suggest that we reconsider the categories of patronage and commerce within the larger production of knowledge fostered by the press. In place of patronage and commerce, I o±er capital as a medium for reading Caxton which recognizes the essential doubling of textual and economic practices at work in his production process, a doubling that allows him to present the printed book as an object of authority connected

81

Kuskin Ch 2

11/15/07

9:29 AM

Page 82

to but also separate from the manuscripts of the English and Burgundian courts. Caxton’s use of capital can be read at a number of points. In this chapter I examine four: the London Mercers’ letter of October 17, 1464, instructing him to negotiate on behalf of Edward IV; his prose accompaniment to the first English book, the 1473 Recuyell of the Histories of Troye (STC 15375); his 1476 Advertisement (STC 4890) for the Ordinale ad usum Sarum (STC 16228); and his entry on printing in the 1480 Chronicles of England (STC 9991). My logic for this selection is fairly straightforward: the letter demonstrates capital’s symbolic authority for Caxton prior to his work with the press, the Recuyell and the Advertisement are among his earliest announcements of the printed book to readers in Burgundy and England, and the brief entry in the Chronicles provides Caxton’s terse definition of printing. Taken together, these texts articulate the multiple forms of authority contained within the printed book, and in what follows I trace Caxton’s construction of a persona—what A. S. G. Edwards and Carol M. Meale have called the “distinctive identity as a producer”— that allows him to introduce the printed book into the reading practices of the late Middle Ages.2 In these four texts the issues of authority, persona, and printing are bound to capital by the word fourme, but we should recognize that the essential relationship they describe is not unique: capital, authority, print, and persona dominate Caxton’s writing from beginning to end, and if Caxton’s first major literary prologue in the Recuyell opens his career with these topics, his last in the Eneydos (STC 24796) is no less concerned with them. Understood as engaged with the production of knowledge, rather than contained by pre-existing scholarly categories, Caxton’s writing reveals an awareness not merely of the complexities of the printed book, but of a larger economy in which capital is specifically used to reproduce it in greater amounts. Capital for the production of greater capital: Caxton’s is a capitalist mode of production.

The Fourmes of Commerce Caxton is first recorded in Bruges around 1450 amidst a period of unstable trade negotiations among England, Burgundy, and France.3 In 1433 Philip the Good appropriated Brabant, Hainault, Zeeland, and Holland from Jacqueline of Bavaria, Duke Humphrey’s wife, to consolidate

82 c a p i t a l a n d l i t e r a ry f o r m

Kuskin Ch 2

11/15/07

9:29 AM

Page 83

them with Burgundy and Flanders under his rule. To protect these holdings, Philip aligned himself with Charles VII and banned English cloth. Weavers in the Low Countries were dependent upon this cloth, however, and uprisings in Bruges encouraged Philip to meet with English representatives and restore trade at the 1438 Treaty of Calais. This treaty was renewed until 1447, at which time Philip again banned English cloth. In 1449 the English countered with an embargo against Burgundian goods. Combined with the outbreak of the English civil war, this resulted in a fierce decline in wool exports, including almost ten months without trade between 1459 and 1460.4 Appointed governor of the English Merchant Adventurers shortly after this crisis, Caxton was deeply involved in restoring stable trade relations, and a letter from the London Mercers dated October 17, 1464, records his initial instructions to take diplomatic action. These instructions describe an economy in which capital and political authority circulate so freely that Caxton is required to perform an abstract conversion from one to the other. Both material and discursive, this process of exchange illustrates the use of capital in the construction of political authority. English trade to the Continent traditionally went through two main groups: the Staplers, who exported wool to Calais, and the Merchant Adventurers.5 The Adventurers represented a fellowship of guilds involved in import and export trading, particularly in the Low Countries’ seasonal fairs of Antwerp, Bergan op Zoom, Ghent, and Middelburg. The Adventurers’ business was ultimately interrelated with the Staplers’, whose export of wool to Calais often underwrote their more speculative imports. Any reduction in wool production and export, therefore, impacted the Merchant Adventurers twice over, first by reducing cloth output and second by shrinking the credit available for their import business. As captain of Calais, Richard Neville, the Earl of Warwick, aligned himself with the exiled dauphin, Louis, and when the political landscape shifted in 1461— Edward became king and Charles VII of France died—Louis became a natural and important political ally for Warwick, persuading him to broker a marriage between Edward and his sister-in-law, Bona of Savoy. As Warwick developed this alliance, trade negotiations involving Burgundy were repeatedly postponed and, while the English wool trade was bolstered by the garrisoning and supply of Calais, the Merchant Adventurers remained without a firm treaty with Burgundy.6

r e a d i n g c a x t o n 83

Kuskin Ch 2

11/15/07

9:29 AM

Page 84

Chartered in 1296, the Adventurers were by the mid-fifteenth century largely dominated by the Mercers’ guild and headquartered in Mercers’ Hall in London.7 The Mercers exported English-made cloth to the Low Countries and imported wine and luxury merchandise such as hats, tennis balls, playing cards, featherbeds, furs, and spices. Concentrating their export trade on Burgundy, the Mercers were particularly sensitive to fluctuations in the market, and when trade initially falters in 1459 they show a 60 percent drop in exports, one much greater than the national average (fig. 2.1). The governor of the Merchant Adventurers in Bruges at this time, a fishmonger named William Overey, obtained temporary renewals for trade with Burgundy through 1463, but competing against the Italians and Hansa for a wide range of markets without a negotiated treaty, the Merchant Adventurers’ cloth trade continued to decline even after wool began to recover. The London Mercers responded by insisting that a Mercer be made governor: in May 1462 they obtained a patent from Edward to elect one of their own; by June Overey was discovered

24,260

Units exported 20,000 19,000 18,000

Broadcloths Broadcloth s

17,000 16,000

Sacks SacksofofWool Wooland andFell Fell

15,000 14,000 13,000 12,000 11,000 10,000 9,000 8,000 7,000 6,000 5,000 4,000 3,000 2,000 1,000 0

1459

1460

1461

1462 1463

1464

1465

1466

1467

1468

1469

1470

1471

Figure 2.1. London merchants’ export trade in wool and broadcloths from 1459 through 1471 as recorded in enrolled customs and subsidy accounts.

84 c a p i t a l a n d l i t e r a ry f o r m

Kuskin Ch 2

11/15/07

9:29 AM

Page 85

taking bribes from the town authorities at Antwerp and was replaced by the mercer John Pickering as interim governor; by August Caxton appeared in o¤ce. In truth, Overey seems to have presided over a growth in the London Mercers’ exports but a decline overall, and his political clout is testified to by the fact that he remained in important diplomatic positions through 1471, well after this scandal. With Caxton’s appointment, however, the national average begins to grow as well, apparently in the face of the existing Anglo-Burgundian embargoes.8 Still, the Adventurers lacked a permanent treaty, and in the summer of 1463 the English Parliament put greater pressure on Burgundy by announcing an embargo on imported luxury items. At the same time Edward attempted to control the flow of bullion out of England by reiterating the 1430 Ordinance of Partition of Wool that legislated that at least 75 percent of the value of wool sold on the Continent be paid for in cash.9 Warwick’s proposed solution to marry the king to Bona of Savoy was eliminated by September 1464, when Edward publicly announced his marriage to Elizabeth Woodville and trade negotiations ground to a halt. In response, Edward commissioned Caxton and Warwick’s representative, Sir Richard Whetehill, to meet with the Duke of Burgundy. In October 1464 the London Mercers John Lambert, John Warde, John Baker, and John Alburgh forwarded to Caxton a letter from Edward IV concerning the approaching expiry, on November 1, of the AngloBurgundian treaty. A copy of the Mercers’ cover letter remains in the Mercers’ records. It opens, “Welboloued we grete you well certifiyng youe that as towchyng the convencion of the lordes that was appoynted to begyn at sent Omers the first daye of the present moneth of october / the whiche we trusted vppon / it is so that it holdith not.”10 The occasion for the letter is the long postponed “convencion of the lordes” scheduled to meet on the first of the month at St. Omer. With an unresolved treaty and an overdue meeting, Edward’s economic program seems desperate. “Neuer the lesse,” the letter continues, “oure soueraign lorde the kyng Remembryng that thentrecourse expired the ¤rst day of Nouembre next comyng / hath written a letter to the maire of london / wherof ye shall receyue a copye closed in this letter / And where as the kyng by his lettre willeth that suche a persone as shulde go in message for the perogacion of thentrecours shulde be provided in suche fourme as ye may conceyve by the lettre.” Rather than simply detailing Edward’s plans, the Mercers’

r e a d i n g c a x t o n 85

Kuskin Ch 2

11/15/07

9:29 AM

Page 86

cover letter records the sequence of letters—from Edward to the mayor, from the Mercers to Caxton, and in its roundabout way, from Edward to Caxton—involved in communicating royal authority. Indeed, instead of delineating Caxton’s new role, it merely directs Caxton to adopt “suche fourme as ye may conceyve by the lettre.” Initially, at least, the Mercers’ letter is concerned with giving discourse on authority a material form, first by tracing its movement from the king to the anonymous “persone as shulde go” in the exchange of letters and second by locating the “fourme” of this authority in the “lettre”—the enclosed letter that allows Caxton to adapt royal authority to his person and the individual letters that spell out Caxton’s instructions. In a sense, the Mercers’ cover letter is a letter about letters, and as such it produces Caxton’s authority through a twofold process of giving form to discursive authority. As the Mercers’ letter continues, it reveals additional concerns about Caxton’s change of “fourme.” The Mercers tell Caxton, “It is thougth here that it is not oure parte here in the Citie to take vppon vs a mater of so grete weyght where that all tymes here to fore the kyng by thavise of his lords of his Councell have made the provision in that behalfe.” They present their own authority as tremendously limited, extending to the boundaries of London and judging the king’s actions based on precedence. Given these limitations, they defer their reply to the mayor of London: “Vppon this we have labored to the mayre with the wardens of diuers felyshippes aventerers that he will write an aunsware to the kyng of his lettre in the most plesuant wise that he can that it will pleas his highnes by thavise of his Councell to provide for this mater for the weall of all his subietts.” According to the Mercers, the mayor and wardens command “most plesuant wise” language and can answer the king appropriately. This detail returns the letter to the relationship between writing and authority. Yet the Mercers are not just concerned about the written representation of authority, but also about who will “provide” for this “mater.” This consideration reveals an implicit understanding that any change of “fourme” on Caxton’s part must be underwritten financially. These moneys are no doubt necessary to cover the pragmatic expenses of Caxton’s travel, communication, and per diem; nevertheless, they also constitute another transformation from the abstract and discursive—financial capital—to the material goods involved in Continental diplomacy.

86 c a p i t a l a n d l i t e r a ry f o r m

Kuskin Ch 2

11/15/07

9:29 AM

Page 87

The Mercers conclude that Caxton will have to fund his change in status himself. This funding, they suggest, should occur not through Caxton’s available cash but through his ability to raise capital by obtaining credit on his personal assets: “Wherfor we pray youe for the welle of alle the kyngs subietts by thavise of the felishipp there in as goodly hast as ye can labour for a meane by the whiche your persones & goods may be in suretie for a reasonable tyme.”11 Caxton’s biography records him making such credit deals long before and well after his tenure as governor. For example, on December 11, 1453, Caxton appears in London at the King’s Chancery permanently transferring all of his material and financial assets in England and abroad to the mercer Robert Cosyn and to a clerk of the papers of one of the sheri±’s courts, John Rede; yet on September 7 of the following year Cosyn testified that he owed Caxton £290, to be repaid in regular shipments of cloth and pewter vessels. As partial payment, Cosyn gave another mercer, John Shelley, £72 in cloth on Caxton’s behalf. By May 1455 Caxton is back in London as a witness in arbitration between Cosyn and the mercer John Neve, and is dealing with even larger sums. During these proceedings Neve testified that he owed Caxton £200 for a deal in Ghent concerning linen. Caxton, in turn, reported that Neve had stood him surety for at least £80, £36 of which he had repaid, and further said that he was bound for 1,000 marks (approximately £666) in a dispute with the mercer John Harowe. These dealings continue across Caxton’s life: in 1474 Caxton paid Neve £190 only to become entangled in a complex countersuit by Neve and the mercer John Salford; and as late as 1487 Caxton is recorded as taking possession of all the assets of William Shore, presumably on a credit deal similar to the one he himself had entered into thirty years before.12 In a literal sense, then, the Mercers’ cover letter and these examples report a common awareness of the importance of capital for maintaining and producing greater capital: Caxton needs capital in order to protect English interests abroad; one way of generating this capital is by obtaining credit on his assets. Yet Caxton’s use of capital here also operates on a more symbolic level. Edward needs an operative on the Continent; unwilling, or perhaps unable, to extend the necessary financial resources, he instead grants an anonymous agent the authority to operate amidst the nobility at his own personal financial risk. This grant is entirely discursive; indeed, it can only be made tangible through the process of writing

r e a d i n g c a x t o n 87

Kuskin Ch 2

11/15/07

9:29 AM

Page 88

letters and credit—hence the cover letter’s interest in tracing the movement as well as the embodiment of authority, and hence its interest in establishing the credit arrangements necessary for making the required capital available. In return for this grant, the Mercers promise Caxton the authority to set the terms for his reimbursement: the letter concludes, “in the mene whyle there com wrytyng from the kyng to the duke / or eles from the duke to the kyng if it will so happen for perogacion of the same / and suche costs as ye do vppon the suytt we will that they be generally levied there in such manner and fourme as ye seme most expedient.” Though the Mercers must wait for writing between Edward and Warwick to set the levy, they acknowledge that the final decision as to the “manner and fourme” of this payment is Caxton’s. Overall, the letter elaborates an exchange of capital for authority that draws Caxton out of anonymity and initiates him into Edward’s service; further, it looks ahead to a second exchange, this time of authority back to capital, in which Caxton has the authority to decide upon his financial reward. Representing Caxton’s new authority and the financial measure of that authority, the term fourme actually encompasses the relationship between authority and capital completely, demonstrating a singular point at which persona, authority, and capital intersect. Caxton and Whetehill succeeded in obtaining an agreement from Philip, who nevertheless had already issued a complete embargo against English cloth. As a result, cloth exports from London plummeted once again. Caxton’s response was to move the Merchant Adventurers to Utrecht, obtaining grants for trading and fairs, but in January 1465 the English Parliament issued a second embargo of their own, banning all Burgundian imports except food. France and Burgundy entered the War of Public Weal in the summer of 1465, and by December of that year London exports hit a low of 776 cloths. In any case, Caxton’s change in status following the October 1464 letter seems to have placed him in direct contact with Warwick. This is evidenced through a 1465 letter in which Warwick reminds Caxton, as the London Mercers summarize, of “thabstinens of bying Wares forboden in the dukes londes of Burgoyn.”13 As Anglo-Burgundian trade continued (even though Warwick planned French marriages for Gloucester and Margaret of York), Caxton appears to have disregarded these instructions. Edward countered Warwick by marrying Margaret to Charles the Bold in 1468, and while this did not

88 c a p i t a l a n d l i t e r a ry f o r m

Kuskin Ch 2

11/15/07

9:29 AM

Page 89

resolve the trade issues between England and Burgundy—diets in Bruges and Antwerp failed to negotiate trade and bullion relations entirely—it returned the Merchant Adventurers to Bruges for Margaret and Charles’s wedding with a positive e±ect on cloth trade for the London Adventurers (fig. 2.2). Whether Caxton was completely reimbursed for his e±orts is unknown; he remained, however, in the service of the Yorkist nobility well after his resignation from the o¤ce of governor: in 1470 he organized ships for Edward’s return to England in 1471, in 1475 he repeated this service for Edward’s assault on France, and throughout 1475 he is recorded as meeting with merchant o¤cials from Burgundy and the Hansa. Capital provides the structure for Caxton’s transformation of authority, and if the Mercers’ letter portrays the discourse of the fifteenthcentury nobility as operating in a sphere in which they are tentative about

33,052 Units exported 24,000 23,000 22,000

24,927 Broadcloth s Broadcloths S ackof s oWool f W o oand l anFell d Fell Sacks

21,000 20,000 19,000 18,000 17,000 16,000 15,000 14,000 13,000 12,000 1 1, 0 0 0 10,000 9,000 8,000 7,000 6,000 5,000 4,000

1453–56 1456–59 1459–1462 1462–1465 1465–1469 1469–1471 1471–1476 1476–1479

Figure 2.2. Total English export trade in wool and broadcloths as recorded in enrolled customs and subsidy accounts in three-year averages from 1453 through 1479.

r e a d i n g c a x t o n 89

Kuskin Ch 2

11/15/07

9:29 AM

Page 90

asserting their own authority, it also recognizes Caxton’s movement into this sphere.

The Besynes of Patronage Caxton is last recorded as governor of the Merchant Adventurers in 1470. He next surfaces in June 1471, a resident of Cologne, and only reappears in Bruges after 1472. In late 1473 or early 1474 he printed the Recuyell of the Histories of Troye, immediately followed by The Game and Play of the Chess (STC 4920).14 Caxton’s writing in the Recuyell fills these dates out: the Recuyell begins with a brief preface reviewing the text’s Burgundian history as originally compiled from Latin and French sources by Raoul le Fèvre, “preest and chapelayn” to Philip the Good in 1464, and then explains how Caxton, “mercer of we cyte of London,” began his translation in Bruges on March 1, 1467, and finished it in Cologne on September 19, 1471. Because the preface, a prologue, and two epilogues provide an account of Caxton’s faltering progress with his translation, Margaret of York’s “dredefull comaundement” that he continue, and his eventual use of the press, Caxton’s biographers have generally read the Recuyell as a testimony to his loss of the position of governor, his patronage by Margaret, and his general debt to Burgundian literary culture.15 We can significantly complicate this reading by recognizing the ways Caxton’s writing oscillates between a series of conventions—between Burgundian and English literary traditions, between personal autobiography and the requirements of the genre, and between patronage and commerce. These tensions allow Caxton to fashion his authority—his “fourme”—in specifically literary terms. Caxton opens the Recuyell with three introductory pieces: a preface, a prologue, and a translation of Le Fèvre’s preface to the original text. Caxton’s preface is very short, telling largely of Charles’s sponsorship of le Fèvre and of Margaret’s “comaundement” (unsigned, 2) to Caxton. The prologue is much longer and begins by countering the preface’s textual history of Burgundian commands with an entirely ahistorical “comandement” of its own: “Whan I remembre that euery man is bounden by the comandement & counceyll of the wyse man to eschewe slouthe and ydlenes whyche is moder and nourysshar of vyces and ought to put my

90 c a p i t a l a n d l i t e r a ry f o r m

Kuskin Ch 2

11/15/07

9:29 AM

Page 91

self vnto vertuous ocupacion and besynesse” (unsigned, 2v). Instead of contextualizing Caxton’s production of the text in the political environment of the Burgundian court, the prologue opens with a generalized “wyse man[’s]” command to activity, “busy-ness.” This shift can be explained, in part, as Caxton’s adaptation of Le Fèvre, whom he translates as writing, “But whan y consydere poyse & weye the dredfull comandement of the forsayde redoubtyd prynce whyche is cause of thys werke not for to correcte the bookys late solempnly translated . but onely for to augmente y yelde me obeissaunt . . . And alle them that shall rede hyt for teschewe ydlenes . that so rudely haue put my penne vnto the histories afore named” (unsigned, 4). Le Fèvre’s preface is a model for Caxton’s, and in response to the command he lifts from le Fèvre, Caxton takes to reading “a frenshe booke,” which returns him to the specifics of Burgundian literary culture. The book gives him “grete pleasyr and delyte” for the “nouelte” of its “fayr langage of frenshe,” and the way its “prose [ is] so well and compendiously sette and wreton.” Still, Caxton decides to reproduce the text in a way that revises these pleasures and delights: “I thought in my self hit shold be a good besynes to translate hyt in to oure englissh / to thende that hyt myght be had as well in the royame of Englond as in other landes / and also for to passe therwyth the tyme” (unsigned, 2v). The prologue therefore acknowledges that literary production is culturally specific—that the Recuyell is born of dukes’ and duchesses’ commands, that its aesthetic value springs from its material and linguistic context. It also insists that “good besynes” lies in denying this specificity, in obeying an ubiquitous moral command to “busy-ness,” in reproducing the text in a new language and form. Yet this denial of specificity is itself an assertion of the maxim taken from Le Fèvre: thus Caxton’s prologue sets out its governing tension between abstraction and specification, between the politically and culturally specific and the apolitical and culturally universal. We can see this tension played out with some precision in Caxton’s discussions of the process of translation and his relationship to Margaret. Caxton tells that he took “penne and ynke and began boldly to renne forth as blynde bayard in thys presente werke whyche is named the recuyell of the troian historyes” (unsigned, 2v), that he is “simple” and “imperfect” in French, “rude” in English, alternately poor or simple in “connyng,” and “meek” in general. Caxton’s writing here is frequently

r e a d i n g c a x t o n 91

Kuskin Ch 2

11/15/07

9:29 AM

Page 92

dismissed as formulaic, no more than a collection of humility topoi drawn primarily from Lydgate.16 Following David Lawton, I would like to suggest that Caxton directs this dullness toward cultural commentary.17 More than merely conventional, Caxton’s writing plays upon its conventionality to discuss literary production in the service of political authority. For Caxton fashions himself as so dull that he simply cannot complete his project: “Aftyr that y had made and wretyn a fyve or six quayers . y fyll in dispayr of thys werke and purposid nomore to haue contynuyd therin and tho quayers leyd apart and in two yere aftyr laboured nomore in thys werke” (unsigned, 3). Caxton’s dullness actually forms the occasion for Margaret’s command: Anone she fonde a defaute in myn englissh whiche sche comanded me to amende and more ouer comanded me straytli to contynue and make an ende of the resydue than not translated . whos dredefull comandement y durste in no wyse disobey because y am a seruant vnto her sayde grace and resseiue of her yerly ±ee and other many goode and great benefetes . and also hope many moo to resseyne of her hyenes. (unsigned, 3) Margaret’s commands rain down on Caxton from a position of authority, a position he repeatedly underscores by naming her as her highness and himself as a servant of “pour connyng.” Where Caxton’s progress was blind, Margaret’s commands “straytli” reassert the successful production of the text. Taskmaster and grammarian, she is the rider necessary to steer Caxton-as-Bayard toward completion. Indeed, the passage finally resolves the tensions inherent in Caxton’s use of one set of conventions— how Caxton can complete his text if he is entirely defined by dullness— by appealing to another set, those of literary patronage, which Caxton emphasizes by remarking that he receives a “yerly ±ee” from her. These conventions place the two actors in complementary roles, so that Margaret is Caxton’s patron, his master but not his double; her authority matches his humility but is not capable of producing a text itself: both are necessary to complete the translation. Caxton’s characterization of Margaret is especially successful because it plays directly into her own self-construction as scholarly, bookish, a patron of the arts.18 As tailored as it may be, however, it too is

92 c a p i t a l a n d l i t e r a ry f o r m

Kuskin Ch 2

11/15/07

9:29 AM

Page 93

carefully predicated on a series of conventions. For example, in the conclusion of his Troy Book Lydgate testifies to Henry V’s patronage, and just as Caxton is saved from his dullness by Margaret’s command, Lydgate writes that Henry, ˇat whylom gaf me in commaundement, Nat gore a-go, in his faderes tyme, ˇe sege of Troye on my maner to ryme, Moste for his sake, to speke in speical. Al-woug wat I be boistous and rual, He gaf me charge wis story to translate, Rude of konnyng, called Iohn Lydgate, Monke of Burie we professioun.19 In the Troy Book, Henry’s “charge” focuses Lydgate’s rudeness, allowing him not only to complete his translation but also to present himself as a poet. The more specific Caxton is regarding his autobiography, the more conventional his language becomes; conversely, the more conventional his assertions, the more they show his awareness of the traditions providing him with the literary voice necessary to stage himself. Caxton’s use of established tropes enables us, therefore, to refine our reading of the prologue: by setting his experiences in Burgundy—his personal residence in Bruges and Cologne, his appreciation of the Burgundian style and the text’s particular pedigree, his relationship to Margaret—with an opposed set of tropes—the general “comandement” against sloth, the English Chaucerian tradition, the conventions of patronage—Caxton argues that personal experience is crosscut by the rhetorical forms of authority, and that although these forms may, at times, be Burgundian, they are also English. In addition to the three introductory passages, Caxton also appends epilogues to books II and III of the Recuyell, and if the prologue to book I complicates Caxton’s production of the Recuyell in terms of translation and patronage, the epilogues to books II and III look to the task of dissemination. For example, in the epilogue to book II, Caxton addresses his work’s relation to Lydgate’s to argue for its unique status as a prose Troy story: “And as ferre as I knowe hit is not had in prose in our tonge / And also paraventure / he translated after some other Auctor than this is”

r e a d i n g c a x t o n 93

Kuskin Ch 2

11/15/07

9:29 AM

Page 94

(unsigned, 251v). Again, Caxton alternates between convention and personal experience—his inheritance of the Troy genre and his specific work in prose. Yet here Caxton continues on to press the specifics of his work: “And yet for as moche as dyuerce men ben of dyuerce desyers . Some to rede in Ryme and metre . and some in prose.” The point that an audience of “dyuerce men” are of “dyuerce desyers” renews Caxton’s progress from a di±erent angle, and when Caxton turns to the issue of production in the epilogue to book III, he registers this change by phrasing his humility as a physical, rather than mental, feebleness: “And for as moche as in the wrytyng of the same my penne is worn / myn hande wery & not stedfast myn eyen dimmed with ouermoche lokyng on the whit paper / and my corage not so prone and redy to laboure as hit hath ben / and that age crepeth on me dayly and febleth all the bodye” (unsigned, 351). Caxton’s hands hurt and his eyes are strained; it is not just the intellectual labor of translation that overwhelms him but the physical one of dissemination. As he applies himself to his task, it actually seems to increase exponentially: “Also be cause I haue promysid to dyuerce gentilmen and to my frendes to adresse to hem as hastely as I myght this sayd book.” The epilogues to books II and III of the Recuyell thus adapt the prefatory matter’s use of convention, but revise it to stress the material constraints of manuscript production. The revision presented by the epilogues opens up room for Caxton to introduce his new mode of production, the press, and with that, his newfound authority as a printer. In fact, as Caxton continues to write of dissemination, he asserts his authority quite clearly: “Therfore I haue practysed & lerned at my grete charge and dispense to ordeyne this said book in prynte after the maner & forme as ye may here see.” Caxton’s language here returns us to the intersection between authority, capital, and the “lettre” established by the Mercers’ use of “manner and fourme.” In fact, the term form is not unique to Caxton’s discussion of print technology. The colophon to the first edition of Johannes Balbus’s Catholicon, printed by Gutenberg in Mainz in 1460, announces that “illustrare que dignatus [sic] est Non calami. Stili. Aut penne su±ragio, sed mira patronarum formarum que Concordia proporcione et modulo, impressus atque confectus est” (it is not worth of the approval of pen, or stylus, or quill, but the admiration of patrons’ forms, which has been impressed and prepared with harmony in proportion and measure).20 Paul Needham

94 c a p i t a l a n d l i t e r a ry f o r m

Kuskin Ch 2

11/15/07

9:29 AM

Page 95

has demonstrated that this text was not printed with movable type, but with two-line slugs cast as units; what patron and form mean in this context, then, is not entirely clear. Nevertheless, the Mercers’ letter called attention to the circulation and “fourme” of written letters; Caxton’s “maner & forme” refers to the actual typeface “ye may here see” and thus revises the term’s evocation of capital, authority, and discourse toward the printed page. Caxton’s early typefaces were made for him by Johannes Veldener. Type 1, the typeface Caxton used for most of the vernacular books he printed in Bruges between 1473 and 1475—his English Recuyell and Game and Play of the Chess, and his French Recueil des histories de Troie, Méditations sur les sept psaumes pénitentiaux, and Histoire de Jason—is a large bâtarde inspired by the contemporary Burgundian bookhand. Caxton draws on this aesthetic throughout his career, and even when he introduces new typefaces they too are reminiscent of the Burgundian style. Only with his very last face, Type 8, does Caxton fully abandon Burgundian for French influences.21 Much scholarship has argued for the pervasive influence of Burgundian literary fashions on Edward IV’s court and on fifteenth-century English literary culture in general, and critics have been quick to see Caxton’s use of Burgundian styles as evidence of his slavish devotion to the Burgundian court and libraries.22 Yet Caxton was an early producer of vernacular books in vernacular type, and if he adapts Burgundian styles, he also sets them: Veldener sold versions of Caxton’s types widely, and they appear in the works of printers in Antwerp and Louvain, as well as in his own editions. In fact, in England Caxton’s faces were copied by the St. Albans Schoolmaster printer and by the partners William de Machlinia and John Lettou.23 Caxton’s invitation to his readers to witness the “forme” before them, therefore, condenses the issues of literary convention and change into a term with political currency enough to evoke the new exigencies of the literary environment as well as his own financial control of the press. Galvanized by this financial authority, the press allows Caxton to respond to the material di¤culties of production by moving the text into the economic realm. Subsequently, Caxton remarks upon how the press matches the demand for the text “hastely” with a speed of its own: “And [this book] is not wreton with penne and ynke as other bokes ben / to thende that euery man may haue them attones / ±or all the bookes of this

r e a d i n g c a x t o n 95

Kuskin Ch 2

11/15/07

9:29 AM

Page 96

storye named the recule of the historyes of troye thus empryntid as ye here see were begonne in oon day / and also fynyshid in oon day.” In this sense, the “good besynes” of the text that Caxton praised earlier for keeping him from idleness, now suggests another kind of “besynes”: the text is also “good besynes” because it promises to sell well, to convert Caxton’s “grete charge and dispense” into a quantity of texts. “Good besynes” not only operates within the conventions of patronage and dullness, but also points to Caxton’s actions beyond the text, to the economic culture it moves within and to the financial demands it must answer. The result of this change in production is a collateral change in the literary authority vested in the text. Where le Fèvre’s and Lydgate’s texts emerged from their intimate relationship to royal authority, the printed text’s authority is less discretely located. In the epilogue to book III Caxton observes that dyuerce men haue made dyuerce bookes / whiche in all poyntes acorde not as Dictes . Dares . and Homerus ±or dictes & homerus as grekes sayn and wyrten fauorably for the grekes / and gyue to them more worship than to the troians / And Dares wryteth otherwyse than they do / And also as for the propre names / hit is no wonder that they acorde not / ±or some oon name in thyse dayes haue dyuerce equyuocacions after the contrees that they dwelle in / but alle acorde in conclusion the generall destruccion of that noble cyte of Troye. (unsigned, 351r–v ) Rather than a singular text produced under a singular authority, Caxton’s text is caught between “dyuerce” men and “dyuerce” books, fostered by multiple authorities and, in turn, drawn from divergent texts. Yet Caxton insists that these “dyuerce equyuocacions” are not issues of textual accuracy but of politics and history “after the contrees that they dwelle in” that trace back to Dictes, Dares, and Homerus, and in this he actually di±ers from his immediate predecessors: le Fèvre claims he assembles the Recuyell “not for to correcte the bookys late solempnly translated,” and in the Troy Book, book V, Lydgate argues for a relative harmony between Dictes and Dares. Though his sources present the Troy story as the result of a singular literary authority, Caxton suggests that rather than fixed with each impression, the printed text’s authority rests upon a literary

96 c a p i t a l a n d l i t e r a ry f o r m

Kuskin Ch 2

11/15/07

9:29 AM

Page 97

history rife with conflict and unified only in the common point that Troy fell. Thus, the disjuncture between the two existing senses of Caxton’s “besynes”— involving courtly and commercial conventions, busy-ness and business—gives way to a third sense of “besynes” as “anxiety” (OED, 5a) and “disturbance” (OED, 5b), a contestation of textual authority as the story’s transmission destabilizes its meaning. We can explore how Caxton’s persona as a printer allows him to manage this tension by examining the copper engraving pasted into the Huntington copy of the Recuyell (fig. 2.3).24 The precise history of the engraving is lost, but it is generally accepted that the engraving is an early addition to the text, perhaps added to a few select books after the initial printing.25 Lotte Hellinga points out the engraving’s similarity to other miniatures made in Bruges during this period, particularly the depiction of Margaret and her five accompanying women in the Master of Mary of Burgundy’s dedicatory miniature in the 1476 Jena De consolatione. Especially interesting about the engraving for our purposes is the way it supplements Caxton’s description of his humble dedication of the text to Margaret by presenting a tableau of “besynes” jarring to the personal and complementary relationship the prologue initially puts forward and suggestive of the way the printed text symbolizes literary authority in the social arena. Caxton’s presentation of the Recuyell to Margaret is the focal point of the engraving, the actual volumes forming a visual line back to Margaret’s bed, over which Charles and Margaret’s coat of arms and her motto Bien en Aviegne—“May good come of it”—appear on a baldequin. While this focus suggests that a unified royal authority dominates Caxton’s reproduction of the text—indeed the tiles on the floor direct the viewer’s eye from the books to the arms—the rest of the engraving’s perspective is somewhat askew: we can see the right window’s shutters fully open, but the left window is slightly blocked by the central piece of furniture. Similarly, the beam-supports in the upper left appear at increasingly radical angles. This perspective is augmented by the grouping of the figures in the frame. On the right side Margaret’s women reinforce the engraving’s border, moving the viewer’s attention toward the left, which is cluttered with objects and figures. These figures carry the gaze from the row of women past the right window, across the center line, through the chest with the jugs and decanters, and to the man entering on the far left.

r e a d i n g c a x t o n 97

Kuskin Ch 2

11/15/07

9:29 AM

Page 98

Figure 2.3. Dedicatory engraving. Raoul Le Fèvre, Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye, frontispiece. Translated and printed by William Caxton, Bruges, 1473 /74 (STC 15375). H. E. Huntington Library, San Marino, RB 62222. By permission of the Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

Kuskin Ch 2

11/15/07

9:29 AM

Page 99

Though the male figures block the path from the books to the coat of arms, this interruption ultimately works to enclose the action of the presentation in a surround, setting the coat of arms somewhat above and apart, so that the symbol of Charles and Margaret’s combined political authority overlooks the entire assembly. The composition creates a circle enclosing printer and patron, a circle contained within the symbol of the duke and duchess’s political authority and encompassed by a community that we—standing somewhat behind and to the left of the woman with her back to us—e±ectively take part in. Initially, at least, the engraving visually depicts what Caxton’s prologue describes through the precedent of Philip’s patronage of Le Fèvre in the text’s Burgundian literary history, Caxton’s narrative of Margaret’s personal patronage, and the conventions of Lydgate’s language: an uninterrupted circuit in which the relationship between patron and producer organizes the entire court. We see this specifically in the central action: a kneeling Caxton deferentially hands the two volumes up to Margaret; Margaret takes them from him in a gesture that validates their textual accuracy and literary authority. Yet if the general composition suggests that royal patronage organizes the text’s dissemination, the engraving’s separate details argue that this organization is only transitory. For example, the figures in the engraving are grouped in pairs according to gender. There are six men and six women, and the room can be divided along these lines. Each of these pairs is paired yet again: there are two male courtiers in the back watching and whispering and two women with their arms crossed in judgment; there are two pages pouring water from a jug to a basin and two women waiting: all four have one hand lifted and one lowered. Placing Caxton and Margaret together, the presentation interrupts this organization by gender; in fact, that Margaret’s mate waits with her back to us and Caxton’s enters at a side door disrupts the pairing altogether. While the presentation organizes the entire engraving, then, the action within the engraving insists that this organization is momentary, superimposed over the court’s pre-existing patterning, disturbing the daily routine for a moment in which whispers and water are frozen, and a man is caught in the midst of his entrance. Indeed, if this man had come a moment later he would have entirely missed the presentation. Because our perspective lies somewhat behind Margaret’s waiting maid, we are actually the first of the circle to see the man entering; thus we too are arrested, distracted from .

r e a d i n g c a x t o n 99

Kuskin Ch 2

11/15/07

9:29 AM

Page 100

the main event by a sideline action, and then forced to draw our attention back to the business of the presentation itself. Compared with the hand-painted miniature by the Master of Mary of Burgundy in the Jena De consolatione (fig. 2.4), Caxton’s copper engraving is striking not for this sense of interruption but for the way the interruption trivializes the presentation as a whole. In the Jena manuscript Margaret and her maids appear to have come across the scribe-poet in a cloistered garden, and he has used this moment to present her with his text. The miniature too conveys a sense of interruption as well as the broad division in gender, but it uses these elements to suggest intimacy: there are no additional watchers, the environment is serene, and Margaret’s and the scribe’s hands are both firmly on the codex as it passes between them. If the Jena presentation is a spontaneous interruption of Margaret’s daily activities, it is also a solemn one. The Caxton presentation, in comparison, hardly causes a pause in the business of the court. Though all eyes turn toward Caxton and Margaret, the men whisper, the women attend a dog, and the pages pour their water. Looking away at the man at the side door, we too are distracted by the goings-on at court and have actually missed the exact moment of presentation only to look back in time to see that the books have already passed from Caxton’s hands to Margaret’s possession. Like Caxton’s prologue, the scenario depicts a “besynes” in which authority and community contend. Within the engraving Caxton and Margaret form another circle, a circle in which sits, remarkably, a monkey. Indeed, if the eye moves upward from the books to the coat of arms, it inevitably also moves downward to consider the monkey. An exotic pet in a court decked with the signs of wealth—fashionably dressed courtiers, ornate jugs and decanters—the monkey is yet another symbol of the court’s extravagance. The monkey continues the general disruption of the engraving’s internal organization: if Caxton and Margaret interrupt the gendered patterning of the court, the monkey moves the overall patterning from units of two to units of three. More specifically, the monkey seems to mimic Caxton explicitly, parodying his humble gesture of presentation with a similar hand position. This parody, perhaps, alludes to a popular Burgundian fable in which a band of monkeys robs a sleeping merchant and frolics with his wares, represented on the “Monkey Cup,” an enamel beaker made for the Burgundian court around 1460, and thus a commodity

100 c a p i t a l a n d l i t e r a ry f o r m

Kuskin Ch 2

11/15/07

9:29 AM

Page 101

Figure 2.4. Miniature by the Master of Mary of Burgundy. Jena De consolatione, Jena MS El.F.85. By permission of Thüringer Universitäts und Landesbibliothek.

Kuskin Ch 2

11/15/07

9:29 AM

Page 102

quite contemporary with Caxton’s life in Bruges (fig. 2.5). Taken with the monkey, Caxton’s construction of his persona is layered: his definition as a Mercer initially suggested his central di±erence from the courtly scribe Le Fèvre and the poet Lydgate, though his prose uses the exact formulas of such poets and scribes. The monkey represents this somewhat awkward combination of roles: within the court, Caxton’s text symbolizes its wealth and positions him as the broker of the multiple authorities involved in its production; yet Caxton is also an outsider to the court, and as such his presence interrupts its internal structure, and he bears the brunt of its ridicule. Though this disruption may be only momentary, it is also central to Caxton’s construction of his own persona. As merchant and printer Caxton occupies a somewhat undefined role, and this status gives him his ability to change his “fourme,” to go—financially, diplomatically, and commercially—where the nobility cannot. Where production according to a model of patronage contains its authority within the court and the surrounding community of readers, production according to a model of commerce expands this authority toward new communities, correspondingly changing the text’s symbolic worth. Caxton makes use of both of these modes of production, and this joint appeal defines his text in relation to the power and prestige of the Crown, while also allowing it to go outside the court. Caxton is willing to play the monkey because it locates him within the Burgundian court, while emphasizing his distance from it and his professional relationship to capital. Rather than simply undermining traditional formulations of literary authority, Caxton works both to demonstrate the complications existing within this authority and simultaneously to contain them loosely through his persona. The engraving therefore presents the text as a symbol of authority, of the Burgundian authorities it reproduces, and of the English authorities Caxton relates to it. Caxton constructs the printed text’s symbolic worth, in other words, through an oscillation between the established traditions of patronage and his experience with commerce.

Posting Bills: Multiplying the Signs of Capital We can see the relationship between capital and authority on a larger scale in Caxton’s early English prints. For example, soon after his return

102 c a p i t a l a n d l i t e r a ry f o r m

Kuskin Ch 2

11/15/07

9:29 AM

Page 103

Figure 2.5. The Monkey Cup. Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Cloisters Collection, 1952. 52.50. Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Kuskin Ch 2

11/15/07

9:29 AM

Page 104

Figure 2.6. Caxton’s Advertisement. Printed by William Caxton, Westminster, c. 1477 (STC 4890). Douce, frag.e.I. By permission of the Bodleian Library, University of Oxford.

to England in late 1475 or early 1476, Caxton printed what is now known simply as the Advertisement (fig. 2.6): If it plese ony man spirituel or temporel to bye ony pyse of two and thre comemoracions of salisburi use enpryntid after the forme of this present lettre whiche ben wel and truly correct / late hym come to westmonester in to the almonelrye at the reed pale and he shal haue them good chepe. Supplico stet cedula26 In part, the Advertisement is a commercial sign easily recognized by the twenty-first-century reader: it tells of a new product, promises an appealing price, and reports directions to Caxton’s shop—in short, it does everything one would expect of an advertisement. The Advertisement makes its pitch, however, at a tremendous historical remove, and even the product it announces—“ony pyse of two and thre comemoracions of salisburi use”—requires some explanation: a “pye,” in this case Caxton’s Ordinale ad usum Sarum, is a liturgical calendar that contains directions for conducting weekly commemorations on the occasions that they conflict with annual saints’ days; a pye of “two and thre comemoracions” is required when a church has more than one patron saint. The juxtaposition

104 c a p i t a l a n d l i t e r a ry f o r m

Kuskin Ch 2

11/15/07

9:29 AM

Page 105

of the familiar and the foreign creates a sense of compression for the twenty-first-century reader, one we can also recognize for the medieval reader in the text’s self-consciousness about its status as a printed document: remarking on its “forme,” announcing its printed mode of production, and requesting—in Latin no less—that it not be torn down, the Advertisement speaks with a double stress: it is at once a sign for a material product, the Ordinale, and also a sign for print production’s place in the larger textual marketplace. This double stress demonstrates a movement in the relationship between text and audience toward the roles of product and purchaser. This transformation marks the influx of capital demanded by the printing press, one that Caxton’s description of the press in the 1480 Chronicles of England elaborates upon to rea¤rm his texts’ literary authority in a more symbolic sense. One place to begin a reading of the Advertisement’s double stress is at its claim to represent the “salisburi use enpryntid after the forme of this present lettre whiche ben wel and truly correct.” Read one way, the Advertisement’s emphasis is on the Ordinale’s qualities, its “forme” or typeface, its general accuracy; read another, the Advertisement’s commentary is on itself, its claim to be “wel and truly correct,” less a discussion of the Ordinale than a reflection on its representation of that text. As both the Advertisement and the Ordinale are printed in Caxton’s Type 3, this representation is precise in a way unique to movable type. Introduced in 1476, Type 3 is a Gothic face, a textura, also designed by Veldener and which Caxton uses for liturgical books or as a counterpoint for his bâtarde faces. Yet the Advertisement demonstrates Caxton’s commitment to the vernacular movement even in this Gothic mode: as Nicolas Barker points out, Type 3’s capitals—such as the prominent capital I in the Advertisement’s first line and the S in its last—are Burgundian (see fig. 2.6).27 Though introducing the Ordinale, a liturgical text Caxton was no doubt proud to present in a fittingly Gothic font, the Advertisement makes this announcement in such a way as to underscore his allegiance to the emerging vernacular print medium and the Burgundian court. “Enpryntid after the forme of this present lettre,” the Advertisement takes part in the symbolic and commercial importation of Burgundian culture to England with a technical precision made possible by the press. The Advertisement’s “forme” is double, then, in its representation of both its product and the larger textual economy in which that product

r e a d i n g c a x t o n 105

Kuskin Ch 2

11/15/07

9:29 AM

Page 106

moves. It specifically underscores this latter function by telling the reader where the Ordinale is to be purchased, at Caxton’s shop at “westmonester in to the almonelrye at the reed pale.”28 Upon returning to England, Caxton leased a group of shops in the Westminster area: a small outbuilding between the flying buttresses of the Westminster Chapter House on the pathway to Westminster Palace, two tenements outside the precincts at the Almonry, and a loft over the Almonry gate.29 Caxton apparently ran his presses, a retail shop, and a bindery from these locations.30 The Westminster precincts and Almonry area, moreover, housed several other craftsmen involved in textual production: William Ebesham, the scribe of John Paston’s “Grete Booke,” had a shop here, as did a group of book binders.31 Noting that Ebesham copied a few of Caxton’s texts over into manuscripts, A. I. Doyle reasons that “the connections with his fellow tenant Caxton illustrate the early collaboration, rather than competition, of the professional pen and printing press.”32 Indeed, in his prologue to his 1490 Blanchardin and Eglantine (STC 3124), Caxton himself claims to have sold manuscripts as well as printed editions. The Westminster precincts comprise a network of production in which craftsmen with overlapping skills complement one another. To sum up: the Advertisement is a visually specific sign that introduces the individual to the printed text by referring both to a product and to the larger economy in which that product circulates. We see this doubleness in the Advertisement’s commentary upon its material form—the actual font it is printed in—that is symbolic of larger cultural trends: the English adaptation of Burgundian literary culture, the development of vernacular printing, the location of English textual production. We also see it in the way “fourme” or “form” resonates throughout Caxton’s writing. Like the Recuyell, the Advertisement stresses the way its material “forme” is related to larger literary conventions; like the 1464 letter, it touches upon the way capital shapes the individual subject: in its first line the Advertisement hails the passerby as a potential buyer, “if it plese ony man spirituel or temporel to bye ony pyes.” This hail is all-encompassing: disregarding class, it makes an initial division between cleric and layman only to assert that the Ordinale is pleasing to, and purchasable by “ony man.” In that medieval English manuscript production has traditionally been viewed as a small scale, bespoke trade, the presence of an advertisement hawking textual products to anonymous purchasers seems anachro-

106 c a p i t a l a n d l i t e r a ry f o r m

Kuskin Ch 2

11/15/07

9:29 AM

Page 107

nistic; thus the Advertisement’s complicated status as a historical document: ostensibly authored by Caxton, it confounds the twenty-firstcentury reader’s expectations of the Middle Ages by doubling textual and commercial practices. 33 Commenting on its capital letters and on the circulation of capital itself, the Advertisement epitomizes the self-reflective quality of fifteenth-century textual production. Of course, one way of historicizing the Advertisement’s complexity is to view the fifteenth-century press as introducing changes in the relationship between production and audience that are only resolved in the sixteenth century. This claim is put forward most forcefully in Elizabeth Eisenstein’s The Printing Press as an Agent of Change, yet it is also endorsed by critics who otherwise distance themselves from Eisenstein’s model of the press as revolutionary. For example, in her study of turn-of-thecentury French printers and authors, Poets, Patrons, and Printers, Cynthia Brown argues that the press’s complexity is progressively worked out in the sixteenth century: The commodification of the book, a result of technological advances made through new instruments of production, contributed to a growing distance between individuals and things in the external world. This development of an increasingly estranged form of subject-object relationships gave rise in turn to distinctions between private and public property . . . In part because typography provided physical means for a writer to extend dimensionally in space and time, . . . a greater concern about authors in the print culture gradually replaced the earlier literary anonymity and general sharing of ideas. Furthermore, as books came to play an increasing role in the developing capitalistic system, authors sought more control of their writings, participating more actively in their publication and seeking greater identification with their own words.34 Given this sense of progressive development, questions of text and audience naturally feed into a larger narrative of literary history in which the categories of literary production—printer, author, patron, and buyer— change with the Renaissance. To a large degree this model implicitly, if somewhat silently, underwrites Caxton scholarship—hence the critical insistence that Caxton’s work relies on the established conventions of

r e a d i n g c a x t o n 107

Kuskin Ch 2

11/15/07

9:29 AM

Page 108

commerce and patronage to define him as fundamentally premodern in thought. This model of literary history underestimates the complexity inherent in fifteenth-century manuscript production. Much recent scholarship, for example, argues that rather than a small-scale system based in personal patronage, manuscript trade was e±ectively servicing a large and anonymous clientele from the fourteenth century: Kate Harris reports that in Bruges manuscript books of hours were produced for the English market by the hundreds; C. Paul Christianson illustrates how the physical organization of London Bridge textwriters’ workshops allowed multiple scriveners to work independently on a single product; and C. F. R. de Hamel points out that Bruges and Ghent operated as clearinghouses for hand-produced elements of books and manuscripts.35 Fifteenth-century textual production relied heavily on specialized division of labor, managerial control, and credit payment.36 Indeed, the development of the Scriveners’ guild pushes such sophisticated commercial organization back to the fourteenth century.37 Christianson makes clear that manuscript production was financed through much the same techniques Caxton used for Continental trading, writing that “in the largely cashless society of fifteenth-century London, lines of credit could be extended by making a symbolic pledge of goods and chattels. Such debit transactions were entered into by various trade members on over eighty occasions recorded between 1431 and 1488, some of which would have represented specific instances of financing book-trade activities.”38 The press did not displace this industry: manuscripts continued to be produced long after the advent of the press, and many of Caxton’s imprints were copied over by hand.39 Although Brown’s discussion of sixteenth-century French copyright litigation demonstrates that the legal codification of the author occurred only in the sixteenth century, Caxton’s interest in printing Chaucer and Lydgate directly upon returning to England reminds us of the status fifteenth-century readers accorded the vernacular author. If we are fully to appreciate Caxton’s introduction of printing to England we must divorce ourselves from a romantic understanding of the fifteenth century as o±ering a simplified literary culture free of a “capitalistic system,” or given to extremely close “subject-object” relations and a “general sharing of ideas.” That the press reorganized literary culture for the sixteenth century has never been questioned; that it is a central expression of

108 c a p i t a l a n d l i t e r a ry f o r m

Kuskin Ch 2

11/15/07

9:29 AM

Page 109

fifteenth-century practices surrounding and outside of textual production needs to be recalled. My argument, then, is not with the fact that the press led to longterm historical change, but with the way early print production is related to the social practices of the late Middle Ages. The traditional view of Caxton’s role assumes that textual and commercial modes of production in the Middle Ages are largely static until after the advent of the press. If we reread medieval production as possessing its own sophisticated and abstract organizational systems, Caxton’s use of the press focuses us less on an imagined opposition between the court and market than on the specific ways the press brings economic and textual production together. A case in point: Caxton’s 1476 Horae ad usum Sarum (STC 15867) remains in a number of fragmentary copies, one of which is printed on vellum and illuminated in the Bruges style. Given that Bruges was already exporting hand-produced books of hours to England in quantity, Caxton’s Sarum reproduces existing textual and economic practices. In this sense, the early press duplicates manuscript production, an argument put forward most forcefully by Curtis Bühler in The Fifteenth-Century Book. Yet Caxton’s is among the first printed Horae, and it represents his early entrance into an almost insatiable market for liturgical material, particularly books of hours: Mary C. Erler writes that by “the turn of the century, we might imagine 1 out of every 35 London merchants, wives, artisans and nuns being supplied with a printed Sarum book of hours.”40 Still, in making this observation we are asserting an important correction to the existing model: rather than “technological advances made through new instruments of production” which foster the “commodification of the book,” we have reversed this sequence to argue that it is, in fact, the commodification of the book that causes a transformation in the mode of production. Caxton recognized this demand and strategized ways of supplying it, but he did not invent it. Printing is neither mimetic nor progressive, but a manifestation of the textual and economic practices—the forms of knowledge—already in place. Let me be clear about the sequence of production and reproduction I am suggesting. Printing derives from fifteenth-century culture, and as such it reproduces that culture’s literary works and practices. In doing so, however, it also produces the work as a text, a book, an object materially and symbolically di±erent from the manuscript. For evidence of the way

r e a d i n g c a x t o n 109

Kuskin Ch 2

11/15/07

9:29 AM

Page 110

this material di±erence is also a symbolic di±erence we need only look to the two of Caxton’s texts for which we still have rough estimates of the cost and quantity he dealt in: the 1487 Missale ad usum Sarum and the 1488 Legenda ad usum Sarum. Printed by Guillaume Maynyal in Paris on December 4, 1487, and August 14, 1488, respectively, the Missale and Legenda are recorded in the London custom accounts: N. J. M. Kerling reports that in February and April 1488 Caxton “brought to London 1161 books, and one container with books, to the total value of £41 1s. 8d.”41 We must assume that Caxton brought over even more books at a later date to account for the Legenda. Considering that the two texts are over 250 pages folio apiece, these quantities represent a substantial investment in paper alone, many times what the customs agents estimated their overall worth. Further, Caxton left a number of copies of the Legenda to St. Margaret’s Abbey at Westminster where they were subsequently sold from 1496 to 1500, initially for 6s. 8d. apiece, but finally for only 5s.42 The Legenda also appears in a 1496 suit involving Caxton’s daughter, Elizabeth, and her estranged husband, Gerard Crop, a tailor. Crop asserted that Caxton willed him £80; the court, however, interpreted Caxton’s gift as “xx prynted legendes at xiijs iiijd a legend.” What is crucial here is not just the quantity Caxton dealt in but the ease with which the customs agents, the wardens at St. Margaret’s, and the legal counsel value, revalue, and devalue—in e±ect, interpret—the texts as symbolic of cash. Though printing derives from existing modes of textual production, the printed book represents a symbolic transformation in the textual practices of the Middle Ages. Capital is essential to this transformation, and the earliest documents of the press underscore its intimacy with the development of printing. For example, the first archival witnesses to the press, a 1439 lawsuit, places Johannes Gutenberg in Strasbourg late in the 1430s and shows him financed by Hans Ri±, Andreas Dritzehen, and Andreas Heilmann to perfect three “secrets” for the 1439 Aix-la-Chapelle fair: techniques to polish gems, manufacture mirrors, and perfect “things related to the action of the press” [der zu dem Trucken gehöret].43 Upon Andreas Dritzehen’s death, his brother George sued Gutenberg for refusing either to refund his brother’s investment or to admit him into the partnership. Gutenberg won the suit, but in need of further financial support he returned to his native city of Mainz to find a backer in Johannes Fust.

110 c a p i t a l a n d l i t e r a ry f o r m

Kuskin Ch 2

11/15/07

9:29 AM

Page 111

A second lawsuit, this time in 1455, reports Fust’s accusations that Gutenberg was neither repaying loans nor showing development. Gutenberg lost this suit and was ruined within two years. Fust and one of Gutenberg’s assistants, Peter Schoe±er—rather than Gutenberg himself— produced the first datable book, the October 14, 1457, Mainz Psalter. Fust went on to make good on his investment by marketing what we now refer to as the Gutenberg Bible in Paris; Schoe±er developed the business into one of the most powerful printing firms of the sixteenth century; Gutenberg’s name does not appear on a single book.44 Instead of a narrative of individual genius and technological change, the documents surrounding Gutenberg insist that the invention of movable type is both collaborative and contingent, dependent upon existing forms of textual production and the investment of capital in pursuit of greater capital. Polishing gems, manufacturing mirrors, reproducing texts: Gutenberg’s research is in transforming abstract investment capital into material objects of wealth that can, in turn, be transformed back into capital. That Caxton himself understood this transformative process is clear in his 1480 Chronicles of England, a version of the Brut to which Caxton added a number of entries, such as the following around the date of 1456: “Also aboute this tyme the crafte of enprinting was first founde in Magunce in Almayne / whiche craft is multiplied thrugh the world in many places / and bookes bene had grete chepe and in grete nombre by cause of the same craft” (Y1v).45 Caxton underscores that the press makes books more accessible both in cost and quantity. Yet he is not only interested in this ability to multiply books “in grete nombre” at “grete chepe” prices, he specifically remarks on the press as a form of knowledge, “a craft,” which is itself “multiplied thrugh the world in many places.” The term multiplication is frequently used to describe material transformation in discussions of alchemy. Chaucer’s Canon’s Yeoman, for instance, complains, “but swynke sore and lerne multiplye,” and later, “and of my swynky blent is myn ye | Lo such avauntage it is to multiplye.”46 These lines point to a material multiplication of value—the “avauntage it is to multiplye”—and also to a multiplication of the knowledge that the Yeoman devoted himself to master, “but swynke sore and lerne multiplye.” Further, at this connection between printing and alchemy the notion of “forme” resurfaces, this time through goldsmithing, the craft that contained the skills, the “secrets” necessary to make movable type.47 This

r e a d i n g c a x t o n 111

Kuskin Ch 2

11/15/07

9:29 AM

Page 112

overlap between goldsmithing and alchemical language exists in Caxton’s biography as closely as Johannes Veldener, the master printer who designed almost all of Caxton’s “formes,” his printed type. In the colophon to his 1476 Epistolares, Veldener describes himself as skilled “in cutting, engraving, pressing, and stamping, and also in designing and fashioning and whatever secret in the art is more closely hid.”48 The press crosses paths with alchemy symbolically as well, in that neither gold nor texts have intrinsic value unto themselves; both depend upon the cultural assertion of a symbolic value. Drawing from the material techniques of manuscript production and the discursive logic of alchemy, Caxton pairs existing forms of knowledge to argue that the craft of the press and its products are multiplied throughout the world. Like the Canon’s Yeoman, Caxton labors in various ways to e±ect a transformation of his base texts. Throughout his prologues and epilogues he emphasizes both the financial investment that goes into the press and the labor of “translating,” “fynyshing,” “accomplishing,” and “reducyng” his texts. Caxton uses “fynyshed,” “achyeved,” and “accomplysshed” for a sense of completion, either of a stage of his project or of the entire printing. “Reducyng,” on the other hand, is at once exclusively related to translation and a more ambivalent term in general: in the prologue to the 1485 Charles the Grete (STC 5013) Caxton writes, “I haue enprysed and concluded in my self to reduce this sayd book in to our englysshe / as all alonge and playnely ye may rede” (aiiv ); and in the 1485 Royal Book (STC 21429) he states that the text is “translated or reduced out of frensshe in to englysshe by me wyllyam Caxton” (v9).49 In both cases reduction is synonymous with translation and appears as a process of linguistic conversion from French to English. The OED reminds us, however, that Caxton uses reduction in other senses as well: he uses it to mean “to bring back” in the Golden Legend (STC 24873; “God . . . shal reduce and brynge you agayn unto the londe of your faders,” OED, 2b.), “to restore” in Jason (STC 15383; “to reduce his yongth in suche wise as he shall seme . . . in the aage of xxxij yere,” OED, 5), “to bring to a certain condition” in Charles the Grete (“Fraunce was enhauced & reduced to mageste ryal,” OED, 10), and “to draw together” in Mirrour of the World (STC 24762; “Yf he mete ony beste that wold doo hym harme he reduyssed hym self as rounde as a bowle,” OED, 25). Rather than either a sense of conversion (which the OED first records in the seventeenth century) or a modern sense of di-

112 c a p i t a l a n d l i t e r a ry f o r m

Kuskin Ch 2

11/15/07

9:29 AM

Page 113

minishment, Caxton’s reduction is a return to or rearrangement of an object’s natural qualities. In the case of translation in particular, reduction represents less a wholesale change of language than a transformation that returns or draws out some latent quality from the text. When Caxton announces that the craft of printing is multiplied throughout the world, we can take his remark to signify three things. First, that the process of printing literally multiplies the quantity of texts available. Second, that this material multiplication is also an intellectual disclosure of knowledge that opens the craft of printing—Gutenberg’s and Veldener’s “secrets”—outward, to the public readership. These two aspects of multiplication rely on an investment of capital and on the physical and intellectual labor of finishing and reducing the text. Yet rather than lessening the text, this process of reduction is, in fact, an amplification, one that transforms its authority in a way similar to Caxton’s own transformation of authority as governor. Thus, the third quality of the press is that it transforms the text’s “forme” in an entirely positive direction, symbolically reducing it to its intrinsic qualities while at the same time materially multiplying it throughout the world. Reducing and multiplying, Caxton’s production of literature presents the very paradox we find within the alchemical sense of multiplication. In his discussion of alchemical “multiplication,” Lee Patterson writes, The history of the term [multiplication] shows that it means two completely opposite things: (1) to intensify a substance through sublimation and (2) to proliferate needlessly and confusingly the materials or, especially, words used in the alchemical work. It signifies, in short, an intensification into singularity, purity, and essence (identity) and a proliferation into multiplicity and heterogeneity (di±erence).50 E±ecting a return to some more intrinsic literary value but also moving outward into heterogeneity, this double meaning of multiplication is exactly the sense we get both from Caxton’s precise use of the term in his Chronicles of England and from his larger and more general discussion of the press. For Caxton, the printed text is a paradox, one that uses established conventions to speak of his unique production of the printed book, introduces fixity to create confusion, and generates multiplicity through reduction.

r e a d i n g c a x t o n 113

Kuskin Ch 2

11/15/07

9:29 AM

Page 114

When Caxton comes to printing he comes, like Fust, as a capitalist. Caxton may not have used this term to define himself—indeed, I suggest that Caxton might have better understood his actions as alchemical—but as we understand capitalism as the investment of capital for the production of greater capital, it defines his practice. For both alchemy and capitalism are processes of transformation that essentially link the manipulation of things in the world—metals, books, individuals—with the symbolic representation of authority. This provides us with an important reminder for reading Caxton: Caxton’s prose and press speak not of static literary or economic categories arranged in opposition, or undergoing either a radical or glacial process of transition, but are imbricated in a variety of forms: literary and political, courtly and common, mercantile and capitalist. The printing press’s unique emphasis on using capital to accelerate—multiply—this combination of modes of production suggests its particularly capitalist emphasis, but it is important to remember that Caxton’s understanding of the utility of using capital to produce capital predates his encounter with the press. Thus, Caxton’s Advertisement o±ers in miniature what his work with the press accomplishes for the English canon overall: it doubles economic and textual production to revise the relationship between text and reader. This doubling is, in part, something Caxton takes for granted: a reflection of his conceptualization of capital and his general awareness of literary culture. It is also an aspect of his production methods that he is especially attentive to, particularly for the ways it allows him to reach an expanded audience. When we read Caxton as a textual producer we are reading this ongoing synthesis of economic and textual production within the marketplace for literature.

114 c a p i t a l a n d l i t e r a ry f o r m

Kuskin Ch 2

11/15/07

9:29 AM

Page 115

PA R T I I

AUTHORSHIP AND THE CHAUCERIAN I N H E R I TA N C E

Kuskin Ch 2

11/15/07

9:29 AM

Page 116

Kuskin Ch 3

11/15/07

9:31 AM

Page 117

Chapter Three

Chaucerian Inheritances The Transformation of Lancastrian Literary Culture into the English Canon

The English canon is an abstraction that takes place in the concrete. Thus John Guillory argues in Cultural Capital that “the canon is an imaginary totality” because it exists only in the individual books and bibliographies that evoke a greater authority.1 Composed of paper, ink, wood boards, and leather, these books therefore possess a representative function beyond their material shape and intellectual statement. Indeed, this representative aspect is dynamic, for as much as a book’s form and contents inspire the imagination of the greater totality, they also embody the technology by which the book was produced and the economy through which it moves. Because the book is simultaneously material and intellectual, its symbolic evocation of English literature, either the authority of the canon, of authorship, or of a product invested with value, is tied to social relations. The fifteenth century is a period of consolidation of the English canon. Simon Horobin and Linne R. Mooney suggest that in the 1430s and 1440s the writing practices of the Chancery and Exchequer are consolidated.2 I argue that a similar process occurred around the more abstract concepts of authorship and canonicity during this period, and read in its poetics an imaginary system tied to vernacular knowledge—writing, textual production, and commerce—which dovetails material and intellectual reproduction in the object of the book. I term this imaginary system the Chaucerian inheritance and argue that it was cogently articu117

Kuskin Ch 3

11/15/07

9:31 AM

Page 118

lated after Chaucer’s death by a number of Lancastrian readers and writers, such as Thomas Hoccleve, John Shirley, John Lydgate, and William and Alice de la Pole. Print came to this structure in the last quarter of the century and infused it with volume, flexing and deforming it from within, and so accelerating its practices, ultimately changing it piecemeal rather than wholesale. Hence the alchemy of the press: in putting Chaucer to print, Caxton reduces the pre-existing notion of Chaucer’s authority to a pure essence embedded in the material text by multiplying him outward to the reading communities of the English body politic who, in turn, use books to wrestle with the social reproduction of authority. The English canon develops not as a break from the past into modernity, but through a transformation of its terms. I trace the Chaucerian inheritance over the next two chapters. Here I read its construction of the Chaucerian canon; in the next chapter I follow out the ways minor writers used Christine de Pizan as a way to fashion themselves a place in such a canon. Overall, I define the Chaucerian inheritance as a material and intellectual format for the production of literary authority based in the consolidation and appropriation of previous writing and argue that it develops into a self-conscious practice over the first half of the fifteenth century. We can establish the terms of the Chaucerian inheritance that Caxton encountered upon his return to England in 1475 or 1476 by looking into a minor poem written at the middle of the century, “Myn Hert ys Set.”3 Early on in this poem, the anonymous poet finds his poetic skill unworthy of the task before him and uses this failing as an opportunity to meditate upon Chaucer’s greatness: So wolde God that my symple connyng Ware su¤ciaunt this goodly flour to prayse, For as to me ys non so ryche a thyng That able were this flour to countirpayse. O noble Chaucer, passyd ben thy dayse, O± poetrye ynamyd worthyest, Ande of makyng in alle othir days the best.4 In its protestations of “simple connyng” and its praise of Chaucer’s worthy making, the poem o±ers an example of the infamous fifteenthcentury rhetoric of dullness, unremarkable in itself.5 Written some fifty

118 a u t h o r s h i p a n d t h e c h a u c e r i a n i n h e r i t a n c e

Kuskin Ch 3

11/15/07

9:31 AM

Page 119

years after Chaucer’s death, it uses this formula to consolidate Chaucer’s legacy in a number of ways: it announces his poetry is of great value (capable of describing “so ryche a thyng”) and, having made this announcement, locates Chaucer within a particular historical moment (“passyd ben thy dayse”), but also names him as transcendent of history in general (“of makying in alle othir days the best”). It also appropriates this legacy: for Chaucer is not set out as an impossible standard; rather, the poet readily concedes Chaucer’s place to the “Monke of Bury,” John Lydgate, in the very next stanza: Now thou art go, thyn helpe I may not have; Wherfor to God I pray, ryght specially, Syth thou art dede and buryde in thy grave, That on thy sowle hym lyst to have mercy. And to the, Monke of Bury, now speke I, For thy connyng ys syche, and eke they grace, After Chaucer to occupye his place. (22–28) If the poem defers to Chaucer’s poetic stature, it does so precisely to appropriate it for Lydgate. This appropriation is layered, and if it constitutes the poem’s theme it also defines its mode. Hence the poem writes Chaucer’s mortality (“syth thou art dede and buryde in thy grave”) in lines remarkably similar to Chaucer’s own gloss on Petrarch in the Clerk’s Tale (“now deed and nayled in his cheste”).6 On its face, then, the poem defines the terms for inheriting Chaucer’s authority as a consolidation and an appropriation. The techniques of consolidation and appropriation are no less popular throughout the mid-fifteenth century than the rhetoric of dullness and are common in the poetry of Hoccleve, James Stewart, and Lydgate himself. What is unique about “Myn Hert ys Set” is the way it twists the humility trope into an accusation, for within the strategy of consolidation and appropriation, “Myn Hert ys Set” plays a double game, and this is what marks both its rhetorical sophistication and its limitations: no sooner does the poem state that Lydgate is “after Chaucer to occupy his place” than it reverses this course, berating Lydgate for writing against women in ensuing stanzas.7 Cupid, of course, lays a similar allegation at

c h a u c e r i a n i n h e r i t a n c e s 119

Kuskin Ch 3

11/15/07

9:31 AM

Page 120

Chaucer’s feet in the Legend of Good Women, announcing that Chaucer’s “Romaunce of the Rose . . . is an heresye ayeins my lawe” (F 329–30). “Myn Hert ys Set” applies this line to Lydgate, telling him “in your conseyt yt is an eresy” (63), and continuing: A, fye, for schame, O thou envyous man: Thynk whens thou came, and whider to rapayr. Hastow not sayd eke, that these women can Laugh and love nat? Parde, yt is not fair, Thy corupt speche enfectyth alle the air; Knoke on thy brest, repent the now and ever. Ayen therwyth, and say though saydyst yt never. (64–70) Lydgate’s conceit is a heresy, his speech is infectious, and his lungs are polluted—strong words in the middle of a century of Lollard persecutions and plague. “Myn Hert ys Set” thus transforms exactly the brand of humanist praise that Lydgate uses to describe Chaucer’s eloquence in his own humble testament to Chaucer’s greatness—the “saws sweet” and “surged mouth” Lydgate put into currency through his Siege of Thebes, for example—into a rhetoric of condemnation. Deferentially combative, the poem is woven from a series of contradictory poses: it proclaims its formulaic dullness with a sharp wit, it ratifies Lydgate’s authority by itemizing the ways he is insu¤cient, and it imagines him eloquent enough to inherit Chaucer’s place but not so eloquent that he can speak for himself in court, finally telling him to “lat thyn attourney sew and speke for the” (80). This last distinction separates literary and political discourse; more fundamentally it suggests that the two can be compared, a comparison that allows the poem’s author to fashion his or her own voice as a kind of righteous prosecutor, as both humble Chaucer and indignant Cupid. The di±erence between Chaucer’s Legend of Good Women and “Myn Hert ys Set” is the di±erence of history: both poems reflect upon what it is to be a vernacular author writing under the authority of love, and both poems use a rhetoric of humility to do so. If “Myn Hert ys Set” begins with a lament for its author’s simple cunning, it serves to echo Chaucer’s Legend: “Allas, that I ne had Englyssh, ryme or prose, / Su¤sant this flour to preyse aright” (F 66–67). The Legend uses this rhetoric to con-

120 a u t h o r s h i p a n d t h e c h a u c e r i a n i n h e r i t a n c e

Kuskin Ch 3

11/15/07

9:31 AM

Page 121

struct Chaucer’s persona, and so the business of Cupid’s accusations and Alceste’s defense provides Chaucer with an opportunity to itemize his previous writing and launch the ensuing poem. Written after Chaucer, “Myn Hert ys Set” is more concerned with imagining the reproduction of literary authority across a series of authors than with enumerating particular titles. Its sophistication lies in its wealth of allusions, not in its justification of authorship itself. And here is the poem’s ultimate contradiction: concerned as the poem is with questions of authorship—with articulating the passage of literary authority through named English authors, with demonstrating its own canniness with particularly Chaucerian and Lydgatean allusions, with assembling an English canon of major authors and minor poetasters, in crafting its own authority—it remains a very conscious act of literary self-fashioning that nevertheless does not provide its own author’s name. “Have mynde of this,” the poem concludes, “for now I wryte no more” (84): all about the politics of authorship, “Myn Hert ys Set” falls silent within the literary history of named authors it works so hard to produce. “Fifteenth-century English literature is a literature of paradoxes,” writes Seth Lerer at the beginning of Chaucer and His Readers.8 And so it is. “Myn Hert ys Set” illustrates the case well: on the one hand, it speaks of a literary culture that is relentlessly self-reflective, one that sees writing after Chaucer very much as what Lerer describes as a cogent literary system of invention through mediation. On the other hand, in its inability or unwillingness to name its own originality, in its overall deference to the past, it is also a poetics of alienation. Scholarship throughout the twentieth century has taken this paradox as evidence that the fifteenth century has little place in literary history overall. Observe René Wellek’s confident opening section to The Rise of English Literary History entitled “Origins”: “There was no literary history in the Middle Ages, though some knowledge of the past of literature existed. . . . Something like the faint outlines of a rudimentary history of English literature can be discerned in the first appreciations of the roles of Chaucer and Gower by their successors and disciples, for example, in Lydgate’s, Occleve’s, and Dunbar’s well-known verse in praise of the master, Chaucer.” 9 Wellek’s assertion—that the work of the poets of the fifteenth century shows a rudimentary sense of authorship—hits precisely where these writers are most anxious: that they have failed to appreciate Chaucer’s eloquence. Yet

c h a u c e r i a n i n h e r i t a n c e s 121

Kuskin Ch 3

11/15/07

9:31 AM

Page 122

there are no fourteenth-century manuscripts of Chaucer’s work, no “foul papers” for future editors to sift through, no evidence of his supervision of a single manuscript.10 “Chaucer’s poetry,” as Lerer points out, “in a quite literal sense, is the product of his fifteenth-century readers and writers.”11 What Wellek overlooks in his claim for origins is not simply the paradoxical nature of fifteenth-century writing, but that the physical reproduction of poetry is an active engagement with literary history itself, for in a preprint culture lacking libraries filled with printed editions easily summoned up for critical review, the distance between scribe, compiler, author, and literary historian is not so great: all four roles engage in a reproduction process that constructs authority from pre-existing material. Fifteenth-century literary production is paradoxical, but it is not rudimentary. Indeed, it is so tremendously aware of the ways in which the Chaucerian canon is constructed through the material and intellectual reproduction of his legacy that it finds his role largely uninhabitable for contemporary writers. Thus the paradox: in reproducing Chaucer’s authorship as canonical, fifteenth-century writing produces itself as anonymous, and this holds true for both individual poets, such as the author of “Myn Hert ys Set,” and the period overall. “Myn Hert ys Set” also illustrates the way the Chaucerian inheritance combines material and intellectual production in its paradoxical imagination of a literary history of canonical vernacular authors. Regardless of the poem’s protestations—or, lest we read too literally, because of its protestations—the poem appears in a specifically Chaucerian book as part of a unique lyric sequence remaining in a miscellany of vernacular poetry from the so-called Oxford group, Fairfax 16. An anthology of poems by Chaucer, Lydgate, John Clanvowe, Thomas Hoccleve, and Sir Richard Roos, Fairfax 16 is composed of a selection of independent booklets sewn together to produce a unified codex.12 Dated about 1450, this manuscript was owned, if not compiled, by John Stanley, who in 1450 was warden of the Tower and custodian of William de la Pole. Duke of Su±olk, admiral and chamberlain of England, governor of the Staple at Calais, constable of Dover Castle, and warden of the Cinque Ports, de la Pole is an appealing candidate for the poem’s author.13 De la Pole knew the lyric poet Charles d’Orléans (first as a prisoner, then as a keeper, and finally as a diplomatic partner); he is named as an author of minor verse by the literary antiquarian John Shirley, who attributes to him the seven

122 a u t h o r s h i p a n d t h e c h a u c e r i a n i n h e r i t a n c e

Kuskin Ch 3

11/15/07

9:31 AM

Page 123

French poems in Trinity College Cambridge, R.3.20;14 and he actively associated himself with Chaucer’s legacy: he is third husband to Alice Chaucer, Chaucer’s granddaughter by his son, Thomas Chaucer, and he sponsored Lydgate’s 1441 petition for an annuity of £7 13s. 4d.15 With Alice, de la Pole commissioned MS Arundel 119, the earliest and most extensively finished manuscript of Lydgate’s Siege of Thebes.16 In this poem Lydgate imagines himself as a pilgrim who meets Chaucer’s fellowship in Canterbury and agrees to tell the story of Oedipus, preceding the Knight’s Tale, on the return trip to London. Arundel 119’s marginalia marks the levels of authorship and sponsorship at work in the manuscript alongside the poem’s text: Lydgate’s Canterbury Tales prologue is bordered on all four sides and has a large initial W, in the center of which is a miniature of Lydgate in his black robe and hood, riding a horse; part 1 has a similarly four-sided vinet with the Duke of Su±olk’s arms, a red eagle on a shield with two grayhounds, in the center. By Lydgate’s line “By hym wat was / gif I shal not feyne” is written “¶ Chaucer,” and the marginalia tracks Lydgate’s own incorporation into the pilgrimage. Arundel 119 thus represents Chaucer’s authorship materially, in its marginal glosses and illuminations, and intellectually, in Lydgate’s discussion of his importance and his imaginative participation in the Canterbury Tales. Like “Myn Hert ys Set,” then, it is explicitly and implicitly about the construction of an English canon: both texts recognize Chaucer as an author in order to construct the passage of authority, and both associate this construction with a courtly context: “Myn Hert ys Set” in its imagination of Lydgate’s banishment from court, Arundel 119 in its proclamation of de la Pole’s authority. As with the scribal transmission of the Canterbury Tales, literary reproduction in the fifteenth century is an intellectual as well as a material process; indeed, these two processes conspire in a larger symbolic statement about the nature of authority vested in the vernacular book of literature. Recent scholarship on the first half of the fifteenth century, the Lancastrian period, argues that this symbolic statement connecting the textual, royal, and literary constitution of authority is expressed through a central metaphor of paternity.17 Implicit in “Myn Hert ys Set,” in de la Pole’s biography, and in Lydgate’s tale of Oedipus, however, is the failure of this metaphor, for these are stories in which paternity bequeaths only loss and fragmentation. Such is the passage of the Chaucerian inheritance

c h a u c e r i a n i n h e r i t a n c e s 123

Kuskin Ch 3

11/15/07

9:31 AM

Page 124

in the middle of the century. For example, in 1445, five years before his stay in the Tower, de la Pole brokered the marriage of Margaret of Anjou and Henry VI, actually standing in for the king at the betrothal in France. The marriage began de la Pole’s rapid accumulation of titles and power; coinciding with the loss of Normandy and the end of wartime profiteering, it also made him a convenient scapegoat for English frustrations. Accused of making side deals with France during the marriage negotiations, of unfairly influencing the king, and of plotting to put his own son on the throne, de la Pole was impeached for treason in 1450, sequestered in the Tower, and, finally, exiled to the Continent for five years. As he set sail for Calais with safe-conduct letters from Philip the Good, his ships were overtaken by the royal privateer, Nicholas of the Tower, and he was subsequently apprehended, tried, and executed at sea. Letters from William Lomner and John Crane to John Paston III report that his decapitated body was left on the sands of Dover beach.18 This is in “Myn Hert ys Set” too, in its strange sense of a literary prophecy, for it is a poem of exile, one that bestows Chaucer’s authority upon Lydgate, but then expels him from court to cast him upon the legal process. After de la Pole’s assassination, Cade’s Rebellion precipitated the Wars of the Roses by demanding that Richard of York be recalled from Ireland and installed as a check on the king’s councillors. The demand was a recognition of the power vacuum left in de la Pole’s wake, for de la Pole’s influence was immense, at times limiting attendance at the Royal Council to a few clerks. Thus, as the poem describes a canonical dividing line between Chaucer and his fifteenth-century followers, de la Pole’s biography describes a political one; poem and biography push toward one another but remain unconnected. Caught in this chasm in the passage of authority, English culture of the second half of the century responds by killing o± its fathers and commodifing the very literature that explains its situation. In doing so, it neither breaks from the past nor signals a completely new mode; instead it transforms the terms of the Chaucerian inheritance into a poetics of reproduction mediated by print. If Lancastrian literary culture is defined by the problems of inheriting the Chaucerian paternity, the Yorkist literary scene finds this legacy uninhabitable and attempts to consolidate it by reproducing it at a new level of commercial volume. For example, Caxton printed two discrete runs of Chaucerian poetry—an initial series between 1476 and 1479, and

124 a u t h o r s h i p a n d t h e c h a u c e r i a n i n h e r i t a n c e

Kuskin Ch 3

11/15/07

9:31 AM

Page 125

a second run of new folio editions of texts by Chaucer, John Lydgate, and John Gower in 148319 —at moments of ruthless internecine struggle: in 1478 Edward IV executed his brother Clarence, resolving any immediate claims to the throne and allowing Queen Elizabeth Woodville’s family unchecked influence over Prince Edward; in 1483 Richard eliminated the Woodvilles and denied Edward V’s legitimacy in a single stroke, creating himself as king while opening up the possibility for the Tudor ascension. Scholars of the fifteenth century have suggested that, faced with the social chaos resulting from a century of such brutal political maneuvering, literary culture e±ectively shut down, retreating from the late fourteenth-century experiments in vernacular composition and biblical translation in favor of a narrow and backward-looking aesthetic, a literature of propaganda rather than of invention.20 In this chapter I suggest that more subtle patterns are at work. First, I use Caxton’s 1476 /77 text of Chaucer’s Retraction to examine the manuscript tradition of the Canterbury Tales as a unified work authored by Chaucer. I then turn to the canonizing tendency of fifteenth-century literature to frame the utility of such a book for social reproduction, largely through one of Caxton’s minor publications, his 1477 Book of Courtesy (STC 3303), a courtesy manual authored by an anonymous yet self-proclaimed student of Lydgate. These two readings suggest how an edition of Chaucer operates as a commodity in late fifteenth-century culture, for just as the Yorkists secure their authority by reducing claimants to the throne, Caxton’s two series distill the intellectual legacy carried in singular manuscripts into a concrete set of texts: in both cases the process of reproducing authority works through a consolidation that simultaneously opens up new possibilities for appropriation. Combined with the self-reflective nature of fifteenth-century writing, the process develops into a sense of corruption in Caxton’s writing on Chaucer, and so the chapter’s last section reads Caxton’s prologue to the 1483 Canterbury Tales (STC 5083) as a discussion of literary history after Chaucer. Like the printer’s mark, then, the printed book of literature promises the consumer a greater unity, a resolution of corruption in the comfort of commerce. We can understand this as the metonymic function of books themselves, for neither the author nor the book is unified; both exist as principles of unity that allow the imagination of wholeness from the fragmentary nature of textual transmission and of social identity.

c h a u c e r i a n i n h e r i t a n c e s 125

Kuskin Ch 3

11/15/07

9:31 AM

Page 126

Beginning at the End: Chaucer’s Retraction and the Cycle of Reproduction One place to begin thinking about the transition from manuscript to print in the Chaucerian canon is at a notable ending: Chaucer’s Retraction. In his study of the development of authorship and the English canon, Kevin Pask writes that in the Retraction Chaucer claims authority for the majority of his poetic texts only in the act of renouncing them. His casual failure to remember “many another book” simply dismisses any possibility of an authorial canon. Despite, then, the rapid inflation of Chaucer’s canon, including many spurious works, in the sixteenth century, the “Retraction” awaited John Urry’s 1721 edition of Chaucer’s Works to be printed. The neglect or even suppression of the “Retraction” testifies to an important break between the sacred authority of late medieval texts and the early modern elaboration of vernacular poetic authority.21 Despite Pask’s claim for the neglect and suppression of the Retraction before the eighteenth century, it appears prominently in the early print editions of the Canterbury Tales. Both of Caxton’s editions of the Canterbury Tales include the Retraction: the 1476 /77 edition presents a version of it as its last page, which the 1483 edition revises with a new page layout and recovered lines. Richard Pynson reprinted this edition in 1491/92 (STC 5084) but eliminated the Retraction entirely, creating the exception to the rule: in 1498 Caxton’s foreman and successor, Wynkyn de Worde, produced his own edition (STC 5085) with a new collation of Caxton’s 1483 text and a new version of the Retraction; in 1526 Pynson returned with an ambitious volume (STC 5086) and pointedly included a reprint of Caxton’s 1476/77 version of the Retraction, as if to rectify his earlier omission. The Retraction does not systemically disappear from the Canterbury Tales’ print history until Thomas Godfray’s 1532 edition, The Workes of Geffray Chaucer Newly Printed (STC 5068). As that text’s editor, William Thynne, announces that the edition is his own “collacion” of the “bokes of dyuers imprites” before him, the concept of an authorial canon articulated by books can hardly be at issue at this time: Thynne is clearly constructing a particular rendition of Chaucer from what he sees as a coherent, if disorganized, received tradition. The absence of the Re-

126 a u t h o r s h i p a n d t h e c h a u c e r i a n i n h e r i t a n c e

Kuskin Ch 3

11/15/07

9:31 AM

Page 127

traction from his edition surely signals his particular interpretation of this canon, but given the welter of editions before him—the most impressive a mere six years earlier—it is di¤cult to see his choice as a sudden break from the past that institutes a new way of thinking, for by this time the Retraction existed as the definite end to the Canterbury Tales on the shelves and in the cupboards of literally thousands of readers.22 Pask describes a long Middle Ages tentative about sacred authority and secular writing, and thus perpetuates a brand of literary history that tells of slow and progressive evolution, and in which the actual evidence of early book production simply doesn’t matter. If we look to these books we can see that, as Ralph Hanna points out, the printed editions of the Canterbury Tales “derive in linear succession” from Caxton.23 This linearity is only an extension of the logic of manuscript production, which constructed the Canterbury Tales as a single-author book of vernacular poetry prior to print. Again we are met by paradox: though the printed book appears as an object of unity, it derives from a manuscript tradition premised on knitting together fragmentary parts, and its overall mode of production is a pastiche of techniques. This is the magic of the book: it reduces contradictions in its production process to coherency without resolving them and e±ectively extends this constellation of ideas to its readers through commercial sale. Thus, I argue that the impact of print occurs neither through slow evolution nor sudden burst; it is an uneven combination of established and insurgent textual practices, a partial revision of the previous mode that transmutes the handmade codex into a wholesale commodity by adjusting the relationship between the book and capital investment. The symbolic power of the book derives from this uneven mode of production overall and this can be read on each individual page. Caxton’s Canterbury Tales is a deceptively simple book, and in this it asks us to consider some fundamental questions about the nature of books in general. Printed in folio but lacking the prologues, tables, initials, woodcuts, and even signatures that identify many of Caxton’s later editions, it presents the reader with a single column of unadorned text (fig. 3.1). Appearing on its last verso leaf, the Retraction a±ects a clean finale to the book overall. Indeed, firmly separated from the Parson’s Tale by a rubric on the previous page as it is, it fits Caxton’s twenty-nine-line page perfectly, o±ering a final turn of the page that modulates Chaucer’s voice from frame-tale-pilgrim to authorial farewell through an almost

c h a u c e r i a n i n h e r i t a n c e s 127

Kuskin Ch 3

11/15/07

9:31 AM

Page 128

Figure 3.1. The Retraction. Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales, f. 372v. Printed by William Caxton, Westminster, 1476/77 (STC 5082). British Library IB.55009. By permission of the British Library.

Kuskin Ch 3

11/15/07

9:31 AM

Page 129

solid surface of black ink. The e±ect is understated but unambiguous, the self-explanatory end to Chaucer’s book and career. But if Caxton’s Retraction brings the book to a convincing close visually, it is nonetheless constructed to do so, for the page layout is not entirely natural to the fall of Chaucer’s text.24 Separated from the paratextual apparatus that appears in so many manuscripts, and neatly compressed to a single page, it is missing a number of coherent and discrete phases for which there are no complete analogues in any manuscript tradition, let alone the family of which his exemplar is said to belong.25 The evidence for this constructed nature is easily swallowed up in the page itself, for here is textual production without human hands, the only personal touch a rubricated initial in some remaining copies over the telltale printed guide letter. That the Canterbury Tales is a book that ends where it should—on its last page— should not be taken for granted: it is a significant construction that involves the thinking through of the relationship between authorship and the nature of the book which achieves simplicity only in the success of its performance. Behind the straightforward appearance of Caxton’s 1476/77 Canterbury Tales is a history of artifice and labor, of scribes and compositors making intellectual decisions about what a book should look like. Silent manipulation toward unity is endemic in the manuscript history of the Retraction. It has long been argued that, with the Parson’s Tale, the Retraction originally circulated as an independent tract, Chaucer’s “Treatise on the Seven Deadly Sins,” attached to the Parson’s Prologue by the early compilers of the Canterbury Tales as they sought a fitting end for the Tales amongst Chaucer’s extant writings.26 We can see this in the earliest of the six manuscripts produced in the decade after Chaucer’s death, the Hengwrt.27 The Hengwrt manuscript lacks its final leaves and is thus missing the Retraction entirely, but Charles A. Owen, Jr., and more recently Míc≥eál F. Vaughan, have pointed out that the manuscripts descending from Hengwrt, particularly Hatton Donat 1 and Bodley 414, present the Parson’s Tale and the Retraction as a continuous unit. Again, the physical structure of the book is telling: Vaughan provides a striking example in Bodley 414, which joins the two texts at the very bottom of the page, a convenient spot to have divided them should the scribe have viewed the texts as separate. The production team that worked on the Hengwrt also worked on the Ellesmere, an extremely finished manuscript with a

c h a u c e r i a n i n h e r i t a n c e s 129

Kuskin Ch 3

11/15/07

9:31 AM

Page 130

complete set of links between the tales, the Canon Yeoman’s Prologue and Tale, and an extensive apparatus overall, and Linne R. Mooney has identified one particular scribe, Adam Pinkhurst, as working on both texts.28 The name “Adam” suggestively links this man to Chaucer’s short poem “Adam Scriveyn.” So, though Hengwrt and Ellesmere are usually dated to the first two decades of the fifteenth century, the identification of Pinkhurst places the manuscripts closer to Chaucer’s own lifetime. Still, the Hengwrt and Ellesmere seem to di±er in their treatment of the Retraction. In contrast to the descendants of Hengwrt, the Ellesmere brackets the Retraction with a set of rubrics that firmly divides it from the rest of the text, so that the Parson’s Tale ends “Here taketh the makere of this book his leve” and the Retraction closes “Heere is ended the book of the tales of Caunterbury, compiled by Ge±rey chaucer, of whos soule Jhesu Crist have mercy. Amen.” The organizational di±erence between Hengwrt and Ellesmere is thus larger than their chronological distance would suggest; it implies an active reworking of the text into a more finished state. In the case of the Ellesmere, this seems to have proceeded so that the scribe’s experience of producing the first manuscript inflected his production of the second. Other early manuscripts tell of di±erent arrangements; for example, Harley 7334 separates the Retraction from the Parson’s Tale with a two-line break, a gold paragraph mark, and the title “Preces de Chauceres,” beginning it with a blue-and-red-filled gold initial N. The implication Owen and Vaughan draw is that the Parson’s Tale and the Retraction circulated as one piece, a separate treatise on penitence, at first awkwardly soldered onto the Canterbury Tales as a unit and then divided into a tale and a final authorial statement in the first decade of the fifteenth century. That Pinkhurst may indeed have been known to Chaucer does not derail the importance of his work; rather he carries out, reproduces Chaucer in a material form. This is no less than Chaucer himself would accord him in the short poem “Adam Scriveyn,” where he marks the scribe’s participation in the construction of his own identity as an author. Thus as the various rubrics defining this point of attachment became more elaborately contrived by the text’s scribes, the text’s position in the Canterbury Tales became, paradoxically, more suggestive of seamless overarching authorial control. The Retraction discusses this very problem through a series of contradictions around Chaucer’s “entente.” On the one hand, in breaking the

130 a u t h o r s h i p a n d t h e c h a u c e r i a n i n h e r i t a n c e

Kuskin Ch 3

11/15/07

9:31 AM

Page 131

pilgrimage-frame (“Now pray I to hem alle that herkene this litil tretyse or rede . . .”), it is one of Chaucer’s most unmediated authorial pronouncements. In its submission to Christian authority (“that yf ther be ony thing that liketh hem / that therof they thanke our lord Ihesu Crist of whom procedeth al wit & goodnes”), it also seems to return any authority generated by this break back to Christian doctrine. Similarly, Chaucer’s use of the Pauline dictum from Romans 15:4 (“al that is Writen / is Writen for our doctrine”) suggests that doctrinal meaning underwrites his work in general. Though he asserts this all-encompassing pardon, however, he is also driven to itemize his nondoctrinal works with some care: “the whiche I reuoke in my retractions / as is the book of troylus / the book also of fame / the book of xxv. ladies / the book of we duchesse / the book of seynt Valentyns day of the parlament of bridis / the talis of Caunterbury tho that sownyn vnto synne / the book of the lyon / and many other bokis.” Even the title, “my retractions,” performs a contradictory rhetorical gesture: in that it alludes to Augustine’s Retractationes, it ostensibly asserts the sincerity of Chaucer’s intentions by comparing them to Augustine’s; by the same token, in that it invites a comparison between a Church father and a Richardian bureaucrat at all borders on vulgarity. In each case, Chaucer at once submits to the greater authority of Christian doctrine and uses this submission as an opportunity to substantiate himself. Larry Scanlon suggests that this is Chaucer’s endgame: “Because [Chaucer] retextualizes Christian authority at the very moment that he is ostensibly submitting to it, his submission is an appropriation. For this reason the retraction should be considered a consolidation and not a rejection.”29 I argue that the point holds true for the material construction of the Retraction as well:30 for rather than negating the unity of the Canterbury Tales, the textual history of the Retraction demonstrates the way scribal production constructs authorial intent through contradiction so that the more the book appears to be a unified whole with a definitive end, the more Chaucer appears intentionally to govern the work as an author even as the e±ect itself is premised on a greater level of scribal mediation. The result is that Chaucer, the author speaking the Canterbury Tales in all its contradiction, operates as a principle of unity capable of holding his work together in the face of its generic range precisely because he describes his role as sustaining, indeed as born from, contradiction.

c h a u c e r i a n i n h e r i t a n c e s 131

Kuskin Ch 3

11/15/07

9:31 AM

Page 132

The Retraction is, therefore, a material appropriation that produces the Canterbury Tales as a symbolic object, a book unified in its beginning and end, as much encased in Chaucer’s authority as it is in its covers. The importance of this point is that it suggests that the Tales, let alone Chaucer’s role as an author standing apart from the work, emerge not in a finite moment of authorial decision but through an extended process of textual manipulation, which includes the consumption and reproduction of the text. Horobin and Mooney suggest a network of scribes, all perhaps known to one another through mutual bureaucratic employ, sharing the copying of the major vernacular literary texts of the late fourteenth century. These early scribes read the Canterbury Tales as separate texts and reproduced it as a unified whole, revising the “Treatise on the Seven Deadly Sins” as the Parson’s Tale and Retraction in order to grant the book a possible, if contradictory, end. In e±ect, the scribes’ consumption of the “Treatise on the Seven Deadly Sins” reproduced it as a productive part of the Canterbury Tales. This reproduction cycle is fundamental to the logic of manuscript assembly, a logic by which the final state of a manuscript is not necessarily realized by the initial production process, or even in the initial purchaser’s consumption, for every manuscript is potentially an exemplar for, or part of, another product. This process is paradoxical— hence the combination of seemingly oppositional practices, production and consumption—but productive overall, and the o±shoot is the anonymity of the very producers, the scribes, who focus so intently on articulating Chaucer’s identity in relation to the ideal work. As an example of the Chaucerian inheritance, then, the Retraction combines the material and intellectual ends of literary production to imagine a larger unity, in this case the unity of author and work over that of the individual text. Caxton’s editions participate in and extend this cycle. For example, Caxton’s copytext stems from the b-group, a manuscript family beginning in the 1450s, which John Manly and Edith Rickert identify as one of the main “constant groups” by which the Canterbury Tales develop in the fifteenth century.31 To refer to the b-group as a “constant” group is somewhat misleading, however, because the b-group develops not by radiation but by enchainment, not by generations moving outward from a single ancestor but by derivation from successive copies. Caxton’s text is taken, like these manuscripts, as a unique witness to the Canterbury Tales,

132 a u t h o r s h i p a n d t h e c h a u c e r i a n i n h e r i t a n c e

Kuskin Ch 3

11/15/07

9:31 AM

Page 133

but its most striking qualities are unification and standardization, for aside from Caxton’s edition, the manuscripts of the family overall reveal their history in their physical composition: they are the disordered, mutilated, fragmentary quires of vellum and paper sewn together across half a century. The progenitor of the group, the Helmingham manuscript (now Princeton University Firestone Library MS 100), is also the archetype for this structure: the codex is a paper shell sewn around a “nucleus” of five vellum quires copied, by turns, in the 1420s. Within these quires, Manly and Rickert add, “the text is much manipulated to fit.”32 There is no particular reason to consider Caxton’s exemplar (which Manly and Rickert refer to as a “shattered” ancestor”) any more coherent than the remaining examples.33 Fractured as they are, the b-group manuscripts testify to fifteenth-century readers’ desires to own the Canterbury Tales as a coherent book, and this is true for the Canterbury Tales overall: there are eightytwo manuscripts containing Chaucer’s tales, at least fifty-five of which appear to have been produced as complete texts. “In the fifteenth century the Canterbury Tales appeared in one format,” observes Daniel S. Silvia, “a complete version of the Tales that with only rare and notable exception dominated the MS in which it appeared, if indeed it were not the sole item (which was far more generally the case).”34 In contrast, only sixteen manuscripts featuring excerpted versions of the Tales remain. Materially, the manuscripts Caxton encountered are the shards of history, remnants of previous productions put to new uses. Through their damaged bodies, they speak not just of the improvisational nature of manuscript production, but of the way consumption reproduces the object as an expression of its readers’ desires for a complete work. Though print may fuse the joints that mark the past, it does not deny the overriding logic of this pre-existing assembly circuit. For example, two manuscripts derive from Caxton’s print. The first, Bodleian Library, MS Laud 739, is a fragmentary combination of vellum and paper corrected according to Caxton’s edition and another manuscript, Royal 18 C.II. The second, Trinity College Cambridge, MS R.3.19, a manuscript from the 1490s, carries a copy of Caxton’s General Prologue for its Canterbury Tales, and one of his Monk’s Tales for a work it describes as John Lydgate’s “Bochas.”35 This manuscript is an anthology of items Chaucerian: Lydgate’s Churl and Bird, Chaucer’s Parlement of Fowls, William Walter’s “Guyscard and Seiesemonde,” George Ashby’s Prisoner’s Reflections,

c h a u c e r i a n i n h e r i t a n c e s 133

Kuskin Ch 3

11/15/07

9:31 AM

Page 134

the Assembly of Ladies, Sir Richard Roos’s translation of La Belle Dame sans Merci, and a number of short poems by Lydgate and Chaucer. It contains blank pages for later additions. Manly and Rickert term the text “a conglomerate of booklets of various sizes,” and its soiled collection of quires is labeled with the actual page numbers of a previous incarnation.36 In that it anthologizes the Chaucerian tradition through booklet construction, Trinity College MS R.3.19 recalls Fairfax 16 to demonstrate, perhaps somewhat more clearly than the b-group as a whole, the logic of manuscript production: for here is the anthology as an intellectual and physical assembly of texts and forms, a manuscript partially copied from print, and assembled from booklets that were once part of another manuscript. Its physical composition illustrates an economy of reproduction that fundamentally conflates what appear to us the fixed categories of manuscript and print, production and consumption, into a unified whole. Indeed, many of Caxton’s editions remain in what are now known as Sammelbände, composite volumes of texts assembled from independent units.37 Paul Needham records evidence for thirty-seven such volumes, and browsing through his catalog provides a window into individual readers’ private collections from the fifteenth through the eighteenth centuries: the Bishop Moore Sammelband collects eight of Caxton’s Chaucerian quartos of 1476 and 1477; the Thorney Sammelband presents Caxton’s folios of the Canterbury Tales, Troilus and Criseyde, and the Quattuor sermones, with a handwritten copy of the Siege of Thebes; Ripon Cathedral combines Caxton’s editions of Chaucer’s translation of the Consolation of Philosophy with his 1480 Doctrine to Learn French and English for an edition that suggests the power of translation in its metaphysical as well as earthly modes.38 Caxton and the printers after him seem to have produced specifically for this kind of consumption: Caxton’s Chaucer and Lydgate quartos, as well as those of de Worde and Notary after him, his folio editions of Chaucer in 1483, and Pynson’s of 1526 all lend themselves to compilation through standard sizes, shape, and appearance. Needham points out two “natural pair[s]” of Caxton’s texts that are consistently bound together in Sammelbände format, the Chronicles of England and Description of Britain (itself an extract from the larger Polychronicon), and John Mirk’s Festial and the Quattuor sermones.39 Disbound in modern libraries and rebound as discrete units, these composite volumes appear curious, the odd uses of otherwise normal books. They also make us recall that the printed book is not

134 a u t h o r s h i p a n d t h e c h a u c e r i a n i n h e r i t a n c e

Kuskin Ch 3

11/15/07

9:31 AM

Page 135

fixed; ink is fixed on paper, but the printed book itself remains as idiosyncratic and flexible as its manuscript counterparts, specific appropriations of a greater authority that they only partially embody.40 In each case, the individual text, whether it is manuscript, print, or some combination therein, participates in the larger imagination of a literary totality, a canon. The significant di±erence of print lies, then, not in that it fixes the imaginative relationship between the individual book and the literary structures of appropriation and consolidation—these characteristics predate the medium—but in its productive capacity. Many of the costs associated with manuscript and printed books are the same: Caxton used the same paper sources as many manuscript producers, and skilled labor had to be paid, whether scribes or pressmen.41 The advantage of print over manuscript production lies in its ability to o±set these costs through volume, to allow the printer to buy supplies in bulk, and to reproduce pages cheaply once composition has been done. For manuscript production, labor remains a fixed rate in relation to materials and output. In contrast, Caxton can e±ectively lower his production costs by printing more copies, his pressmen not having to reset entire pages, only re-ink and make additional pulls. Caxton’s profit margin comes from adjusting the relationship between these forms of capital per book: as Philip Gaskell observes, “There were powerful economic reasons for printing no more than about 2,000 copies, just as there were for printing at least 500.”42 The incentive, then, was for Caxton to produce a quantity of books, and this explains his investment in the two-pull press around the time of his first Chaucerian series: anything that would let him increase the volume of production and therefore minimize the price of labor in relation to the individual product was in his best interest. The volume at which print works asserts a transformation interior to the mode of production overall, altering the relationship of the various determinant forces within the reproduction cycle. Thus, however unified the printed book appears, the relationships behind it are uneven and purposely so, for it is this unevenness that not only connects print to its manuscript context but also allows Caxton to exploit the relationship between human labor and mechanized production to his advantage. The Canterbury Tales therefore embodies capital investment not simply because of its technological novelty or its literary history but

c h a u c e r i a n i n h e r i t a n c e s 135

Kuskin Ch 3

11/15/07

9:31 AM

Page 136

because it condenses multiple forms of authority—the financial authority necessary to run the press, the literary authority vested in the Chaucerian canon, and the authority over labor itself—into a tangible object. This defines the book as symbolic of a series of appropriations and corresponding alienations: Chaucer’s appropriation of ecclesiastical authority toward vernacular poetry, his scribes’ appropriation of his various texts toward the single-author edition, Caxton’s appropriation of labor toward profit, and the reader’s appropriation of the book toward his or her individual uses, whatever these might be. These appropriations may involve some degree of friction, expressed as visible marks within the book or as intellectual contradiction within the work, but overall the results are selfexplanatory: the book-as-a-symbolic-object, or, what Michel Foucault has called “an object of appropriation.” As such an object, the book presents the imaginary structures of authorship and canon in a material form, giving them place in the world: hence Guillory argues that the “real social process [of canon formation] is the reproduction not of values but of social relations.”43 As much as Caxton’s profit margin is premised on the transformation of labor into a physical object, then, it is not anachronistic to say that the incunable embodies class struggle within textual production.

Profitable Impressions: Literary Reproduction as Social Reproduction Caxton capitalizes the literary economy of the late fifteenth century, shaping it according to the commercial requirements of the press into a form of social reproduction. In part, this is Caxton’s discrete strategy, in part it is native to the terms of authority that he inherits, and, in part, it is generated by the mechanical di±erences introduced by print production, the machine’s emphasis on volume. We can read this combination of forces through Caxton’s epilogue to the 1478 Consolation of Philosophy,44 a piece that leads us back to Caxton’s source, the Book of Courtesy, an anonymous conduct book written by a self-proclaimed student of Lydgate, which Caxton printed in 1477.45 The two texts demonstrate the way Caxton’s writing facilitates commercial book production by discovering within the Chaucerian inheritance a language of consumption, which it extends to a group of readers as interested in literary discourse for its evocation of authority as for its intellectual argument or aesthetic pleas-

136 a u t h o r s h i p a n d t h e c h a u c e r i a n i n h e r i t a n c e

Kuskin Ch 3

11/15/07

9:31 AM

Page 137

ures. “Production thus creates the consumers,” writes Marx,46 and this is true for Caxton’s relationship to his audience: for rather than simply marketing literature for a free-standing bourgeoisie, Caxton’s books actively produce a coherent merchant class from an otherwise indeterminate group of people. Thus Caxton brings Chaucer to market as both a tangible commodity and an intellectual abstraction, an embodiment of capital investment that can be appropriated by his readers. In doing so he transforms that culture by teaching a new generation of readers how to profit from literary authority. If the press is a physical machine, the book is no less a symbolic one, and it produces its readers according to the very mechanics by which it was produced: by making appear coherent what is actually fragmentary and disjointed. Caxton’s epilogue to the Consolation opens with a short introduction to Boethius’s life and works, followed by a brief paraphrase of the text, and, in turn, by his famous tribute to Chaucer:47 And for asmoche as the stile of it [the Consolation of Philosophy] / is harde & di¤cile to be vnderstonde of simple persones Therfore the worshipful fader & first foundeur & enbelissher of ornate eloquence in our englissh + I mene / Maister Ge±rey Chaucer hath translated this sayd werke oute of latyn in to oure vsual and moder tonge + Folowyng the latyn as neygh as possible to be vnderstande + Wherein in myne oppynyon he hath deseruid a perpetuell lawde and thanke of al this noble Royame of Englond / And in especiall of them that shall rede & understande it (unsigned, 93r –v) Caxton draws the themes of passage—literary paternity, readership, textual production—from the Book of Courtesy. Ostensibly written for “Lytel John,” who “syth [his] tendre enfancye / Stondeth as yet vnder / in di±erence / To vice or vertu to meuyn or applye” (unsigned, 1), the Book of Courtesy is part of a larger English interest in conduct literature, one that includes the 1475 The Babees Book and Lydgate’s “Dietary,” as well as a number of Caxton’s prints during this period: Caxton’s two quartos of Lydgate’s The Horse, the Sheep and the Goose contain advice on good manners (STC 17019 and STC 17018); Cato’s Disticha (STC 4850) is a schoolbook of Latin moral couplets; Lydgate’s Stans puer ad mensam (STC 17030) is a version of Robert Grosseteste’s book of table manners for

c h a u c e r i a n i n h e r i t a n c e s 137

Kuskin Ch 3

11/15/07

9:31 AM

Page 138

boys; and the 1477 Infancia salvatoris (STC 14551) tells the early life of Christ. Such literature went hand-in-hand with the Chaucerian tradition. For example, the two subjects are thematically linked within Caxton’s editions and physically associated in the remaining Sammelbände: Caxton’s quarto miscellany featuring the Parlement of Fowls also contains Henry Scogan’s “Moral Ballad,” a poem of counsel to his sons that includes within it both a tribute to Chaucer and an interpolated version of Chaucer’s short poem “Gentilesse”; in turn, the Bishop Moore Sammelband anthologizes the Disticha and the Book of Courtesy with Caxton’s 1477 editions of Lydgate and Chaucer. The Book of Courtesy takes part in this association of childhood instruction with the Chaucerian tradition by announcing to Little John the value of reading English authors. It too knits together its advice from a series of large- and small-scale literary allusions: for example, recalling the Prioress’s description in the General Prologue, the Book of Courtesy instructs Little John to wipe his lips and keep grease from his cup (unsigned, 5); and as Madame Eglentyne’s table manners are of a piece with her linguistic training, these instructions lead into an extended discussion of the literature Little John should consume: “Excersise your self also in redyng / Of bookes enorned with eloquence” (unsigned, 8), commands the book; read Gower, Chaucer, Hoccleve, and Lydgate. Although the Book of Courtesy is unique in its inclusion of Hoccleve, authorial lists are not uncommon in late fifteenth-century literature; Caxton specifically draws upon its discussion of Chaucer for his epilogue. O fader and founder of ornate eloquence That enlumened hast alle our bretayne To soone we loste / thy laureate scyence O lusty lyquour / of that fulsom fontayne O cursid deth / why hast thou we poete slayne I mene fader chaucer / maister galfryde Alas the whyle / that euer he from vs dyde. (unsigned, 8v ) The passage presents a web of associations involving paternity and precedence (“O fader and founder”), as well as loss and praise (“To soone we loste / thy laureate scyence”), themselves woven from Chaucerian

138 a u t h o r s h i p a n d t h e c h a u c e r i a n i n h e r i t a n c e

Kuskin Ch 3

11/15/07

9:31 AM

Page 139

verse.48 For instance, Caxton’s 1476/77 Canterbury Tales records the Clerk in the Prologue to the Clerk’s Tale as announcing: I wol you telle a tale whiche that I Lernyd at Padow of a worthy clerk As preuyd is he his wordis and his work He is now ded and leyd in cheste I pray to God yeve hys soule goode reste Fraunceys petrark the laureat poete Highte this clerk whoos rethorike swete Enlumyned al Jtayle of poetrie (unsigned, 170r –v )49 Petrarch “enlumyned al Jtayle”; illumination suggests a harmony between “his wordes and his werk” in which laureate rhetoric gilds the countryside much as an artisan works on a manuscript page. The metaphor comes to the Book of Courtesy from this passage of Chaucer, but more immediately from Lydgate’s own tribute in his prologue to the Siege of Thebes, where Chaucer is “Floure of Poetes / thorghout al breteyne,” his words “Enlumynyng / we trewe piked greyn / Be crafty writinge of his sawes swete.”50 As Lerer has demonstrated, the language looks back through Lydgate and Chaucer to the humanist praise of laureate authority and constitutes what he calls a “vocabulary of impression,” evoking poetic eloquence as possessing an almost tangible quality, as if the poet’s excellence alone impressed and ornamented the page.51 Still, as much as the Clerk proclaims Petrarch a most tangible model of poetic eloquence, he nevertheless insists upon his mortality, “now ded and leyd in cheste,” and so constitutes Petrarch’s authority to seize it, produces it only to consume it. The phrasing of Caxton’s 1476 /77 edition, cited above, mutes the aggressiveness of what is now taken to be Chaucer’s “now deed and nayled in his cheste,” but in any form the lines distill the process of appropriation and consolidation into a single gesture. Thus the address in “Myn Hert ys Set” to Chaucer recalls “Syth thou art dede and buryde in thy grave.” Thus Caxton, too, appropriates the Clerk’s description of Petrarch for his own description of Chaucer’s “body and corps lieth buried in thabbay of westmestre beside london to fore the chapele of seynte benet” at the end of his epilogue (unsigned, 93v). Allusion has long been recognized as a

c h a u c e r i a n i n h e r i t a n c e s 139

Kuskin Ch 3

11/15/07

9:31 AM

Page 140

defining feature of Caxton’s prose, and it is usually considered a sign that he simply had nothing to add to what he read; nevertheless, appropriation goes hand-in-hand with poetic composition throughout the period: Chaucer borrows wholesale from his sources, and his contemporaries, Henry Scogan, John Clanvowe, and Thomas Usk borrow from him. Caxton states this rule baldly when he remarks at the end of his edition of the House of Fame that Chaucer “he wrytteth no voyde wordes / but alle hys mater is ful of hye and quycke sentence / to whom ought to be gyuen laude and preysyng for hys noble makyng and wrytyng / For of hym alle other haue borowed syth and taken / in alle theyr welsayeng and wrytyng” (STC 5087; d.iii; italics mine). In the fifteenth century alluding to authority is a mode of participating in it; Caxton’s allusions to authority always contain an appropriative edge. The nature of appropriation involves lifting language from one context and placing it in another. “I wol yow telle a tale whiche that I / Lerned at Padowe of a worthy clerk,” proclaims the Clerk; Chaucer “folow[s Boethius’s] latyn as neygh as possible to be vnderstande,” writes Caxton; both imagine composition as a process of translation, of reproducing what has come before with a di±erence. Chaucer’s poetry recognizes this appropriative quality as essential to vernacular poetics but fraught with problems. One particularly prominent illustration of his thinking lies at the end of the General Prologue, in a passage Caxton’s 1483 edition dramatically sets apart from the rest of the text (fig. 3.2). This page layout seems to owe to the placement of the woodcut on the following page, but such a mechanical explanation should not distract us from the obvious: the passage is an important statement on vernacular poetics and the page layout highlights it as a freestanding unit. For here Chaucer sets out a hierarchy of writing in which vernacular poetics are embedded in social class: But fyrst I you praye of your curtesye That ye ne arette nat my Vylonye Though that I playnly speke in this matere To telle you here wordys and hyr chere And though J speke here wordys propyrly For this ye knowe as wel as J Who shal a tale telle aftir a man

140 a u t h o r s h i p a n d t h e c h a u c e r i a n i n h e r i t a n c e

Kuskin Ch 3

11/15/07

9:31 AM

Page 141

Figure 3.2. The General Prologue. Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales, C3v. Printed by William Caxton, Westminster, 1483 (STC 5083 ). IB.55094. By permission of the British Library.

Kuskin Ch 3

11/15/07

9:31 AM

Page 142

He moste reherse as nere as he can Euery word yf it be in hys charge Al speke he neuer so rudely and so large Or ellys he muste telle hys tale untrewe Or see thingis or feyne wordis newe He may not spare al thouh he were his broder He moot as wel say o word as another Cryst spak hym self ful brode in holy wryt And well ye woot no vylany is it Eke plato sayth who so can it rede The word muste be cosyn to the dede Also J pray yow foryeue it me Al though I sette not folk in hir degre Here in thyse tales as that they sholde stonde My wit is short ye may wel understonde (unsigned folio, 13r–v ) Christ’s speech, absolutely clear in holy writ, transcends both the texts that bear it and its social context; neither rude nor bound to social class, it is “no vylany.” Plato’s writing is keyed back one degree: his words are accessible only to those who can read them, and their meanings are less palpable; shrouded in allegory, they are only cousins to the deeds they represent. Chaucer’s language occurs at a further remove still: he is dull, and his language is a figuration, not of truth but of prior conversation. Hedged by contextual issues as he is, Chaucer must beg his readers’ courtesy, so he promises early on in the General Prologue to set folk out according to their degree, but here admits he cannot even do that. Christ speaks with no villainy, but villainy—a social category—is a problem Chaucer can’t escape: as much as he follows Christ’s model and speaks plainly, he is doomed to run afoul of social mores; as much as he fictionalizes, he moves away from Christ’s example. Ultimately, Chaucer has no choice but to speak rudely and largely, to speak like a villain. The passage therefore presents a theory of literary epistemology as a movement from Christ’s literal truth, to Plato’s figuration in which words and meanings are related, to a kind of vernacular literary production that cannot help turning against his brother. Violation is a theme Chaucer probes throughout his writing, from Troilus and Criseyde, through the Canterbury

142 a u t h o r s h i p a n d t h e c h a u c e r i a n i n h e r i t a n c e

Kuskin Ch 3

11/15/07

9:31 AM

Page 143

Tales, to his short poem on textual production, “Adam Scriveyn.”52 For Chaucer, vernacular literary production verges on vulgarity, and this marks its claim to truth and its di±erence: its vernacular nature is potentially o±ensive to existing social categories even as it strives toward faithfulness. Late fifteenth-century writers applied this paradigm to writing after Chaucer, appropriating his language in order to appropriate his authority, but not occupying his place. The Book of Courtesy contains an exceptionally clear discussion of just such a pattern of appropriation. After listing o± Gower, Chaucer, Hoccleve, and Lydgate as suitable for study, the anonymous writer continues: Loo my child / these faders auncyente Repen the feldes fresshe of fulsomnes The flours fresh they gaderd vp & hente Of siluer langage / the grete riches Who wil it haue my lityl childe doutles Muste of hem begge / ther is nomore to saye For of our tunge / they were both lok & kaye Ther can noman now her werkis disteyne The enbamed tunge / and aureate sentence Men gete it now / by cantelmele & gleyne Here and there by besy diligence And fayne wold reche / her craft of eloquence And by the gleyne / it is ful oft sene In whos felde / the gleyners haue bene (unsigned, 10 r – v ) The harvest is over. What was possible in the aureate fields of the past— the easy, pastoral process of illumination in which poets are like flowers to be picked by other poets—is impossible in the fifteenth century. Chaucer, Gower, Hoccleve, and Lydgate have reaped the literary fields; all Little John can do now is beg from them. Instead of a flowing forth of poetic eloquence—Chaucer’s e±usion of “lusty lyquour”—Little John is instructed to “sewe,” pursue, those who have “connyng.” This “besy diligence” replaces the picking of “flours fresh” with the hard work of reading. Yet this stanza too is an appropriation of canonical material filtered

c h a u c e r i a n i n h e r i t a n c e s 143

Kuskin Ch 3

11/15/07

9:31 AM

Page 144

through the Chaucerian tradition; as A. C. Spearing points out, “Even this acknowledgment of indebtedness could not be made without incurring a further debt, for the image of precursors as reapers who have already gathered the harvest of poetry, derived originally from chapter 2 of the Book of Ruth, is itself borrowed from Chaucer’s Prologue to The Legend of Good Women.”53 This process of reading and begging forms a study in itself, as “by the gleyne / it is ful oft sene / In whos felde / the gleyners haue bene.” Who watches for this information, and why it is important is left unsaid: what is sure is that as with table manners, reading can betray the individual, tell, perhaps, of his or her villainy. The world the Book of Courtesy sketches for Little John is a series of appropriations in which no statement is made innocently: each has a twisted lineage of borrowing and taking, acknowledged debt and concealed appropriation. The point is both a lament for the past and a comment on the present. At the end of the section the author tells Little John that historical change from the days of the “faders auncyente” also reflects the practices of their fifteenth-century sons, their “fetis newe founden by foolis vnprouffitable / That make we world so plainly transformate / That men semen almoste enfemynate” (unsigned, 12). These new “fetis,” fashions of dress, are unprofitable; in contrast to the lusty appropriations of “these faders auncyente,” they make men seem, almost, e±eminate. And even here the anonymous author of the Book of Courtesy has made a silent appropriation, this time not from Chaucer or Lydgate but from Hoccleve, whose Regement of Princes presents a similar critique of contemporary fashion, “In swych a cas he nys but a womman; he may nat stand hym in stide of a man.”54 Borrowing from the Prioress’s and Clerk’s Tales, from the Legend of Good Women, from Lydgate’s The Horse, the Sheep and the Goose in general, as well as from his praise of Chaucer in the Siege of Thebes, from Hoccleve’s in the Regement of Princes, and from the Regement itself, the anonymous Book of Courtesy rhetorically assembles the very Chaucerian canon it instructs Little John to read. Like “Myn Hert ys Set,” the Book of Courtesy o±ers an object lesson in literary production as appropriation. “Excersise your self also in redynge / Of bookes enorned with eloquence / Ther shal ye fynde / bothe plesir & lernyng” (unsigned, 8), its author tells Little John, because reading o±ers the individual a way to appropriate the imaginary past of the aureate fields of laureate poets for contemporary uses. Books o±er a

144 a u t h o r s h i p a n d t h e c h a u c e r i a n i n h e r i t a n c e

Kuskin Ch 3

11/15/07

9:31 AM

Page 145

similar solution in Caxton’s epilogue to the Consolation. In the very opening of the epilogue Caxton paraphrases the Consolation as “Rehercing in the sayde boke howe Philosophie appiered to him [ Boethius] shewyng the mutabilite of this transitorie lyfe / and also enformyng howe fortune and happe shold bee vnderstonden / with the predestynacion and prescience of God as moche as maye and ys possible to be knowen naturelly / as a fore ys sayd in this sayd boke” (unsigned folio 93). At this moment of authorization—“enformying”—Caxton argues that God’s authority is only understood “as moche as maye and ys possible to be knowen naturelly.” The line recalls Caxton’s characterization of Chaucer following Boethius’s Latin as “neygh as possible to be vnderstande,” and Caxton constructs a similar parallel between Philosophy’s lessons on mutability and contemporary London: For in the sayd boke they may see what this transitorie & mutable world is And wherto euery mann liuyng in hit / ought to entende + Thenne for as moche as this sayd boke so translated is rare & not spred ne knowen as it is digne and worthy + For the erudicion and lernyng of suche as ben Ignoraunt & not knowyng of it / Atte requeste of a singuler frende & gossib of myne + I william Caxton haue done my debuoir & payne tenprynte it in fourme as is here afore made / In hopyng that it shal prou¤te moche peple to the wele & helth of theire soules / & for to lerne to haue and kepe the better pacience in aduersitees. (unsigned, 93v) Where the Book of Courtesy promises “plesir & lernyng,” Caxton presents the Consolation for “erudicion and lernyng”; where the Book of Courtesy finds the world transformed, Caxton sees it as “transitorie & mutable.” Both imagine an immutable source of authority in this world—God, “these faders auncyente”—as just beyond human reach. Little John, the subject of such a world, “stondeth as yet vnder in di±erence / To vice or vertu to meuyn or applye.” Neither moving nor applying himself to vice or virtue, he exists in a paralysis of indeterminacy. The problem speaks to Caxton’s audience in general: for example, it has been repeatedly suggested that Caxton’s “gossib” was William Pratt, a mercer whom Caxton identifies as his friend in his prologue to the 1487 Book of Good Manners. Regardless of this identification, or even the actuality of the gossip, Cax-

c h a u c e r i a n i n h e r i t a n c e s 145

Kuskin Ch 3

11/15/07

9:31 AM

Page 146

ton does not name a person here but rather selects a term suggesting intimacy. In contrast, his readers appear a public audience, one that is uninformed and distanced, di±use—everything the gossip is not. The distinction between the gossip and the audience runs throughout the epilogue in a silent juxtaposition of known individuals—the gossip (“a singuler frende”), Chaucer (“the worshipful fader”), and Boethius (“an excellente auctour”)—and a community desperate for authority but defined by its very lack: “them that shall rede & understande it,” “suche as ben Ignoraunt & not knowyng of it,” and “euery mann liuyng.” The vagaries of Caxton’s language point to the greater indeterminacy of the class he is addressing, for like Little John, the class is indeterminate. The reproduction of authority was an essential issue to the merchant class that Caxton and his gossip knew. As Sylvia Thrupp points out, “Over the [fifteenth century] as a whole the merchant class was barely reproducing its numbers.”55 Caxton himself laments this problem in Caton, a work he dedicates “vnto the cyte of London,” and in which he writes, “And by cause I see that the children that ben borne within the sayd cyte encreace / and prou±yte not lyke theyr faders and olders / but for the moost parte after that they ben comen to theyr parfight yeres of discrecion / and rypenes of age / how wel that theyre faders have left to them grete quantite of goodes / yet scarcely amonge ten two thryve” (STC 4853; iir–v ). This is a problem of family structure, of sons not following fathers into business, and of guild structure, of a large proportion of apprentices failing to become freemen.56 There is clear evidence that it was recognized as such: the Mercers’ Company, for example, developed a system of admission by patrimony in the late fifteenth century, grandfathering the 20s. entry fee to the pre-1448–49 level of 2s. for the sons of mercers. This solution does not seem to have been tremendously e¤cacious. J. M. Imray records that of seventeen freemen’s sons enrolled between 1459 and 1464, only seven became freemen themselves.57 Though the guild system provides a structure of patriarchal hierarchy, it seems, then, to have been insu¤cient. Instead, fifteenth-century urban merchant relations appear to have been entrepreneurial, involving women in the workforce and based on temporary allegiances rather than on stable lines of inheritance. This dynamic environment encouraged experimentation of the sort we see Caxton himself engaging in throughout the period, breaking away from his family and community in search of oppor-

146 a u t h o r s h i p a n d t h e c h a u c e r i a n i n h e r i t a n c e

Kuskin Ch 3

11/15/07

9:31 AM

Page 147

tunity; conversely, it also suggests the di¤culty, if not impossibility, for this class of defining itself coherently. Though fathers are everywhere in fifteenth-century culture—in the masters of the guilds and in the literature of the times—the little workshop of the patriarchal master is exactly what the sons could not or would not reproduce.58 For the problem of this class of readers is that it has no name; it cannot reproduce itself as the bourgeoisie because it does not know itself by that collective term. The Book of Courtesy speaks to this indistinct class in a language it understands. Its advice is chiefly nostalgic and conservative: submit to “these faders auncyente,” it announces to Little John, and assume their social system. So, it places the blame for Little John’s indi±erence on social change and o±ers its connection between childhood instruction and the Chaucerian tradition as a paternal inheritance capable of recalling, if not restoring, the proper ways of the past. For Caxton, then, literary appropriation for social “prou¤te” is accomplished through the manipulation of “fourmes”: Philosophy’s “enformyng” of Boethius and the “fourmes” of print both facilitate the appropriation of authority. The specificity of Caxton’s claims, let alone his language, should not be underestimated: again, one need only look as far as the Book of Courtesy to see the same economy of appropriation for profit, and the same double sense of textual production. The Book of Courtesy’s anonymous author uses just such a metaphor to discuss Little John’s self-construction, first in the opening stanza, “but as waxe resseyueth prynte or fygure / So children ben disposid of nature” (unsigned, 1), and later in his discussion of table manners, “prynte ye trewly your memorie” (unsigned, 4v ) and “prynte in your mynde / clerly the sentence” (unsigned, 7v). Forming, enforming, printing: the reproduction of books stands for the successful transformation of authority. In the context of the printed book, they bring together named authorities with an anonymous audience, o±ering an unnamed class the commodities of material culture as a means of imagining a coherent identity. With this advice, however, the Book of Courtesy does not simply recommend that Little John wait for his paternal inheritance; instead it advises him to proceed “by cantelmele & gleyne” to improvise with what he finds and consume at every turn. The Book of Courtesy’s comments on social mores continually orbit around the issue of proper consumption,

c h a u c e r i a n i n h e r i t a n c e s 147

Kuskin Ch 3

11/15/07

9:31 AM

Page 148

of food, of fashions, and of books. Proper consumption, it argues, is like profitable reading, both lead to the successful reproduction of authority: “And doubte not my childe / withoute drede / It wil prou¤te to see suche thingis & red” (unsigned, 10v ). In contrast, improper consumption, the “fetis newe founden by foolis vnprou¤table,” confounds men and women, implicitly making all reproduction impossible. In this way the Book of Courtesy actively participates in the social change it condemns, for it is no less a commodity newly found than the fashionable but e±eminate outfits it scorns. A commodity about the consumption of commodities, the Book of Courtesy decries any change from the past even as its material form contributes to that change. Still, the Book of Courtesy is contradictory, paradoxical even, but nevertheless convincing: hence, the alchemy of print—of a reduction to the essence of authority and a corresponding multiplication of the forms of authority available—is projected onto the internal contradictions of fifteenth-century literary culture, doubled over with the problems inherent in the Chaucerian tradition to create an uneven mode of production, one at odds with its own mode of dissemination but nevertheless symbolically unified as an object of appropriation for anonymous consumption.

Caxton’s 1483 Prologue to Chaucer and the History of the Book Commodities, books, mediate the gap between public identity and the private self. We can see this played out in Caxton’s prologue to the 1483 Canterbury Tales, a milestone of fifteenth-century prose. Beginning with Caxton’s praise of past “clerkes / poetes / and historiographs” who have produced historical writings (a2), the prologue goes on to describe their texts as “monumentis wreton,” physical markers of history. In this it recalls Caxton’s enduring interest in books as transcendent in his prologues to the Mirrour of the World and the Polychronicon. And so the prologue continues to Caxton’s famous tribute to Chaucer which observes Chaucer’s eloquence in his “beauteuous volumes and aournate writynges.” This passage is built on a series of allusions: to the Clerk’s Tale, to Lydgate’s Troy Book, and to two discrete sections of the Siege of Thebes. In this last poem, the Siege of Thebes, Caxton finds a history of poetry to complement his history of the book, one in which Amphyon, the poet-king,

148 a u t h o r s h i p a n d t h e c h a u c e r i a n i n h e r i t a n c e

Kuskin Ch 3

11/15/07

9:31 AM

Page 149

sings the walls of Thebes into being in an ideal demonstration of the political power of poetic eloquence. In the Siege of Thebes, this scene comes directly after Lydgate’s praise of Chaucer, and the link between the two exemplary poets is made clear in marginalia of William and Alice de la Pole’s manuscript, Arundel 119, which is itself so highly interested in authorship: after noting Chaucer, the manuscript marks the “¶ Ensample of kyng Amphion” and Lydgate’s source, “¶ The exposition of John Bochas upon we derk posey.” Amphyon’s is indeed a “dark poesy,” for when Lydgate moralizes over Oedipus by underscoring that “of Cursid stok / cometh vnkynde blood,” the obvious suggestion is that Oedipus’s “stock” is tainted from the start (1014). Lydgate insists that Amphyon escapes this history without being butchered by his sons, but it is in this escape that Amphyon’s meaning becomes di¤cult, for should he fall with the rest of his clan he could be read as a negative exemplum of Fortune, another tragedy for the Monk’s collection. Instead he remains the one redeemed character in the history of Thebes. The result sets the origin of poetry against its legacy, and by implication the same holds true for the fifteenth-century inheritance of the Chaucerian mode. Lydgate may pass over Amphyon, but that dark poetic, with its vague proximity to Chaucer’s own making, hangs over that text like a nightmare. Caxton learns from Lydgate not merely a collection of tropes, then, but a framework for understanding the Chaucerian inheritance. Readers such as William de la Pole, perhaps finding in such texts an allegory for their own political situations, had it marked in their manuscripts, and the generation after them moved around it cautiously. Caxton’s publications recognize this as a complicity in corruption, for by the mid-1480s the rivalry of the Wars of the Roses had produced a literary culture of contrivance and paranoia, and with the usurpation crisis of 1483, the sense of Fortune’s return had settled on the English court. We can read English literary polity so turning in upon itself, attempting to find its way through Amphyon’s legacy of poetic language as the men killed and caused their siblings to disappear and the women brokered secret marriages and rebellions. But the Chaucerian mode is not romance, and so we should not expect to find Caxton or his contemporaries kneeling like Bedivere at a dying Arthur’s feet: the message of the Chaucerian inheritance is to establish authority through appropriation and participation, and this defines fifteenth-century polity.

c h a u c e r i a n i n h e r i t a n c e s 149

Kuskin Ch 3

11/15/07

9:31 AM

Page 150

Caxton’s prologue to the Canterbury Tales tells a story, then, not simply of Chaucer’s genius but of complicity in a textual culture of corruption. After the section praising Chaucer, Caxton goes on to tell of his revision of his first edition, an autobiographical narrative that is usually taken at face value. Caxton did, in fact, revise his earlier edition extensively, editing his b-group version against another manuscript, perhaps from the a-group, reordering the tales, revising and eliminating lines, as well as adding running titles, clarifying the relationship of the links to the tales through the page layout, and including his famous set of woodcuts.59 While Caxton’s narrative does suggest a sense of realism, it is a highly crafted reality at best. It begins where the passage of allusions ends, at the reading of the Canterbury Tales: And after theyr tales whyche ben of noblesse / wysedom / gentylesse / myrthe / and also of veray holynesse and Vertue / wherin he fynysshyth thys sayd booke / whyche book I haue dylygently ouersen and duly examyned to thende that it be made acordyng vnto his owne making. (a2) The narrative reads as if Chaucer finishes his book and straightaway Caxton takes it up. This e±ect is created by Caxton’s use of the passive— “to thend that it be made acordyng vnto his owen makyng”—which mutes his own role and heightens the immediacy of Chaucer’s intention, suggesting that Chaucer’s authority is immanent. Thus, the only acts involved in reproducing the texts are the vaguely administrative “finishing” and “overseeing.” Here is poetic composition without labor, printing without pressmen, imposition without composition. Books without history: this is bookmaking as transcendence. Striking about Caxton’s narrative, however, is that while it appears to progress linearly, it actually works through the repetition of a fundamental action: Caxton’s examination of a version of the Canterbury Tales. At times, this return describes a new narrative event, but at other times it is a reflective backtracking that occurs outside the storyline. For example, in the very next passage, Caxton repeats the action of “dylygently ouersen[ing]” Chaucer’s book: For I fynde many of the sayd bookes / whyche wryters haue abrydgyd it and many thynges left out / And in somme place haue sette

150 a u t h o r s h i p a n d t h e c h a u c e r i a n i n h e r i t a n c e

Kuskin Ch 3

11/15/07

9:31 AM

Page 151

certayn Versys / that he neuer made ne sette in hys booke / of whyche bookes so incorrecte was one brought to me vi yere passyd / whyche I supposed had ben veray true & correcte / And accordyng to the same I dyde do enprynte a certayn nombre of them / whyche anon were sold to many and dyuerse gentyl men / of whome one gentylman cam to me / and said that this book was not accordyng in many places vnto the book that Ge±erey chaucer had made. (a2r–v) The passage begins with an abstraction deriving from Caxton’s experience (“For I fynde . . .”), and so it moves away from the narrative line, retelling the action of delivery in a didactic mode. Yet ultimately the scene is the same: Caxton reviews his copytext for his 1476/77 edition of the Canterbury Tales. Where his first telling compressed time to suggest a singular book passed from Chaucer’s hands to his own, here passive observance is replaced with editorial action; rather than an out-of-time singularity, this telling presents reproduction (“I dyde do enprynte”), dissemination (“whyche anon were sold”), and realization (“this book was not accordyng in many places vnto the book that Ge±erey chaucer had made,” a2v). Both time and labor are central to this version of bookmaking: six years separate Caxton from his first review of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, as do the work of many “writers”; these variables conspire to add verses to Chaucer’s work, exactly the “superfluyte” that Chaucer’s poetry supposedly transcended. This corruption is palpable: it denigrates Chaucer’s “beauteuous volumes and aournate writynges” to the “rude speche 7 Incongrue” of the “olde Bookes.” Though Caxton’s story involves only two manuscripts, the 1476 and 1483 copytexts, the narrative continues to repeat the delivery, discussion, and examination of texts. The fundamental action—Caxton receives a Canterbury Tales—is more or less repeated three times over the course of the prologue: once in Caxton’s first discussion of overseeing Chaucer’s book, once again in the above passage, and lastly, when the gentleman brings him a new manuscript. The result is that error is realized and worried over through a recursive narrative style. What is surprising about the prologue is that this structure does not blur the narrative’s progressive sense; indeed, one of the marks of the narrative’s success is that the repetition never strikes the reader as excessive, but instead creates an increasingly pervasive sense of discovery that culminates in the last telling:

c h a u c e r i a n i n h e r i t a n c e s 151

Kuskin Ch 3

11/15/07

9:31 AM

Page 152

Caxton’s initial concern is to avoid implicating himself in this corruption, and he meets the gentleman’s accusation with excuses (“To whom I answerd that I had made it accordyng to my copye / and by me was nothyng added ne mynusshyd”), but these fall aside as the recognition of corruption becomes its confession: Yet I wold ones endeuoyre me to enprynte it agayn / for to satysfye thauctour / where as to fore by ygnouraunce I erryd in hurtyng and dy±amyng his book in dyuerce places in settyng in somme thynges that he neuer sayd ne made / and leuyng out many thynges that he made whyche ben requysite to be sette in it. (a2v ) Caxton hurts and defames Chaucer “in ignorance”; Lydgate’s Oedipus errs against his father “ignorant, shortly, how it stode” (784): both describe the impossibility of any easy paternal inheritance. Driven by this realization, Caxton embarks on the second edition of the Canterbury Tales in order to replace the first without corruption, but even in this goal of replacement the narrative is condemned to repetition, for the one thing Caxton’s narrative cannot do is strike out its corruption because corruption organizes it at a fundamental level: the crime has already been committed, the books have already been disseminated, the errors have already been pointed out. Although the narrative strives toward a pattern of progressive improvement, then, its structure testifies to the fundamental level at which corruption is woven into its conception of history. In a sense then, Caxton could not have written the prologue’s opening remarks—the praise of the makers of enduring books—without already having come to the realization of his own complicity in the history of the book. To help rectify this corruption, the gentleman provides Caxton with his father’s copy of the Canterbury Tales. The father is a peculiar figure in Caxton’s narrative: while the narrative casts Caxton and the unnamed “gentylman” as characters within its thread—they walk its streets, inhabit its shops, read its texts, and confer over its problems—the father is an inexplicable figure apparently beyond its capacity for detail. Associated with the past through his age, he is never in the narrative foreground; connected to Chaucer through the trope of paternity, he is always in its background. The father is unknowable and unquestionable, linked to the

152 a u t h o r s h i p a n d t h e c h a u c e r i a n i n h e r i t a n c e

Kuskin Ch 3

11/15/07

9:31 AM

Page 153

past, but without presence. Indeed, his presence is only testified to by his book, and thus he figures a paternal authority just outside the narrative line. His copy of the Canterbury Tales provides exactly the authority that Caxton’s lacks: “Thenne [the gentleman] sayd he knewe a book whyche hys fader had and moche louyd / that was very trewe / and accordyng vnto hys owen first book by hym made” (a2v). In that the father’s manuscript has a pedigree of being made from “hys owen first book” which was “by hym made,” it seems to hark back to some earlier source. The lines are ambiguous; what is clear is the authority the father stakes in this manuscript: the son remarks, “wyst wel / that hys fader wold not gladly departe fro it.” If Caxton’s narrative pits the representation of Chaucer against the structure of history, the father solves this problem by providing an authority that is both literary and social. Less than an embodiment of authority, he is an imaginary figure, a positive influence within a fallen world. Without eloquence of his own, he inspires Caxton and the son to deal between themselves, to strike a bargain of social gestures around the text. Perhaps the most succinct line in all Caxton’s writing, “And thus we fyll at accord,” marks a social relationship mediated by the book. Thus, Caxton repeats the delivery of a manuscript to his shop once again: “and he ful gentylly gate of hys fader the said book / and delyuerd it to me / by whiche I haue corrected my book.” Caxton tells his story of correcting the 1476 edition as a history of the book, an Oedipal drama, and a problem of textual reproduction in which books provide a vehicle for the reproduction of social relations.

The Chaucerian inheritance is the material and intellectual structure for the reproduction of authority as evoked by an English literary tradition of consolidation and appropriation. From the middle of the fifteenth century, with the end of the Hundred Years War and the advent of the Wars of the Roses, as well as the death of Lydgate in 1449, the organizing themes of this reproduction process underwent a significant shift from paternity within a fixed Chaucerian tradition, to sibling rivalry. One consistent thread within this change, carried within the aesthetic and generic principles of Chaucerian writing, is the strategy of appropriation from pre-existing literary sources and sanctioned institutions. As the shift worked its way out in the last quarter of the century, the appearance of print, and its mechanical dependence upon volume to turn c h a u c e r i a n i n h e r i t a n c e s 153

Kuskin Ch 3

11/15/07

9:31 AM

Page 154

an economic profit, extended this appropriation strategy to widening bodies of readers. Recognizing this, William Caxton facilitated it in a variety of ways: by presenting the book as a marketable commodity, by emphasizing works that announced the e¤cacy of appropriation for personal profit, by working with readers similarly interested in using literary culture toward the appropriation of authority. Thus print asserted a unifying function over literary and political culture not because it appeared as a force external to that culture, but because it expanded its terms, allowing various communities to appropriate authority and identify their social place in new ways. Still, as much as the press developed the book as a commodity capable of symbolizing authority, it also served, to some extent, to lay bare the commodification of human relations in general. This too is latent in the Chaucerian inheritance, however, for from the start Chaucer defines vernacular production as vulgar.

154 a u t h o r s h i p a n d t h e c h a u c e r i a n i n h e r i t a n c e

Kuskin Ch 4

11/15/07

9:32 AM

Page 155

Chapter Four

Uninhabitable Chaucer Patronage and the Commerce in the Self

By the late 1470s Chaucer was entombed, as Caxton tells it in his epilogue to The Consolation of Philosophy (STC 3199), his authority poetically described “on a table hongyng on a pylere.”1 We can read in this the central problem of the Chaucerian inheritance, for if the imagery of the tomb set in motion Chaucer’s literary legacy as the father of English poetry, it also depicts him as a model for writing sealed o± from the present, and to some degree uninhabitable by contemporary writers. That paternity provides the terms for authority is by no means exclusive to poetics; indeed, the Wars of the Roses can be understood as an attempt by the English nobility to inherit a fraught paternal legacy; thus, J. R. Lander writes that after Richard of York’s death, the peers “at the beginning of March 1461 made Edward king because there seemed to be no other way out of a desperate political situation; no other way of cutting free from the disasters into which his father’s ambitions had led them.”2 For Caxton studies the connection between literary and political authority has been understood through the concept of patronage. Considered simply as an exchange of art for money, patronage appears as a system of manners divorced from the combative manipulation of authority that characterized the period as a whole. Rather than viewing patronage as a system of exchange, I define it as a structure for symbolic production, one that combines seemingly heterogeneous modes—chivalric, spiritual, commercial, and bibliographic—toward the construction of a public

155

Kuskin Ch 4

11/15/07

9:32 AM

Page 156

identity. Chaucer’s writing remains central to this production process because he so clearly sets out a rhetoric of humility in the service of authorship; however, as his status became increasingly canonical over the course of the century, it fell out of reach of courtiers eager to define themselves as writers. As much as these writers have simply been labeled “patrons,” their place in literary history has been ignored. Involved in literary production in both manuscript and print, the minor writers of the English fifteenth century solidify the social authority of contemporary vernacular writing. Caxton names five people as clearly financing the press: Margaret of York, who he states in the Recuyell gave him a yearly fee; Anthony Woodville, who he claims in the Cordyal provided him with “manifolde benefetes and large rewardes” (STC 5758; unsigned, 77v ), and for whom he printed three texts; William Fitzalan, Earl of Arundel, who gave him “a yerely fee / that is to wete a bucke in the sommer / 7 a doo in wynter” for producing the 1483 Golden Legend (STC 24873–74; p2); Hugh Brice, a mercer who paid for the 1481 Mirrour of the World, “entendyng to present the same vnto the vertuous noble and puissaunt lord / wylliam lord hastynges” (STC 24762; a4v); and John de Vere, Earl of Oxford, who is associated with three separate texts, and whom Caxton chides in the 1490 Foure Sonnes of Aymon (STC 1007) for not paying in a timely fashion. Caxton’s text remains only in a fragment at Cambridge University Library, but his prologue is reprinted by William Copland in 1554: I haue endeuorde me to accomplyshe and to reduce it into our englysshe, to my great coste and charges as in the translatinge as in enprynting of the same, hopyng 7 not doubtyng but that hys good grace shall rewarde me in such wise that I shal haue cause to pray for his good and prosperus welfare. (STC 1010; A.ii) Caxton also names Henry VII, Queen Elizabeth, Margaret Beaufort, and two gentlemen, William Pratt and William Daubeney, as issuing “commandments” and “requests,” which are not explicitly attached to costs or fees. The problem with recent definitions of patronage is that they remain static.3 If we look to Caxton’s productions the situation is much more complex. For example, during the usurpation crisis of 1483, Caxton printed an unusual edition: the 1483 Curial, a pamphlet of one folio con-

156 a u t h o r s h i p a n d t h e c h a u c e r i a n i n h e r i t a n c e

Kuskin Ch 4

11/15/07

9:32 AM

Page 157

taining a prose epistle by Alain Chartier (STC 5057), followed by a poem, “Ther ne is danger / but of vylayn.” The text begins with a short prologue by Caxton: Here foloweth the copye of a lettre whyche maistre Alayn Charetier wrote to hys brother / whyche desired to come dwelle in Court / in whyche he reherseth many myseryes & wretchydnesses therin vsed / for taduyse hym not to entre in to it / leste he after repente / like as heir after folowe / and late translated out of frensshe in to englysshe / whyche Copye was delyuerid to me by a noble and vertuous Erle / At whos Instance & requste I haue reduced it in to Englyssh. (i)4 In its mention of a noble and virtuous earl, the prologue makes a transparent reference to Anthony Woodville, the Earl Rivers, Caxton’s longtime associate executed by the Earl of Northumberland at Richard’s proxy. N. F. Blake uses this text as grounds for his claim of “anonymous patronage.” Dating the pamphlet at 1484, Blake goes on to suggest that Woodville’s patronage was “a liability” at this time, evidence that Caxton’s operations ran into trouble during the Ricardian period with Woodville’s death.5 Thus to accept the notion of patronage in Caxton studies is to lay aside the literary tradition and understand Woodville as the guiding hand behind his most ambitious projects. In the 1479 Cordyal Caxton names three texts he printed for Woodville—the Dictes and Sayings of the Philosophers (1477; STC 6826), the Morale Prouerbes (1478; STC 7273), and the Cordyal itself—and also mentions some “diuerse balades ayenst the seuen dedely synnes.”6 Woodville may well have been involved with more than Caxton’s three printed editions and some lost ballads, but it is too much of a simplification of fifteenth-century patronage and of Caxton’s own agency to argue that his a¤liation with any single patron so completely defined his work with the press. More interesting about the Curial is that it is possible to attribute it to Woodville at all, for as Blake recognizes, Caxton is capable of excluding mention of the nobility when it suits him; for example, in 1474 he dedicated his second printed text, the Game and Play of the Chess (STC 4920) to George, Duke of Clarence, amidst Edward the IV’s resumption, playing into the political context of the time, yet he revises any mention of Clarence out of his 1483 reissue of the edition (STC 4921). Caxton’s allusion to Woodville in the Curial asks

u n i n h a b i t a b l e c h a u c e r 157

Kuskin Ch 4

11/15/07

9:32 AM

Page 158

the question, in what sense is Woodville his patron? I suggest that Caxton’s presentation of the Curial as a Woodville text is not secretive; it is strategic. If we turn to the Curial itself, we find it entirely cynical about life at court, and this is both its warning and its thrill. For Chartier repeatedly implores his brother to remain at home: “Beholde thenne brother beholde / how moche thy lytyl hous gyueth the liberte and franchyse / And thanke it that it hath receyuyd the as only lorde / And after that thy dore is shette and closed ther entreth none other but suche as pleseth the” (ivv). Chartier’s rendition of “thy lytyl hous” evokes notions of private space, of self-mastery, and of autonomy. In contrast, he depicts the court as a marketplace: The courte to thende that thou vnderstande it / is a couente of peple that vnder fayntyse of Comyn wele assemble hem to gydre for to decyue eche other / For ther be not many of them but that they selle bye / or eschange somtyme theyr rentes or propre vestementis / For emonge vs of the courte / we be meschaunt and newfangle / that we bye the other peple / And sommtyme for theyr money we selle them our humanyte precyous / we bye other / And other bye vs / But we can moche better selle our self to them that haue to doo wyth vs / how moche thenne mayst thou gete / that it be certayn / or what sewrte / that it be wythout doubte and wythout peryll / wylt thou goo to the court for to selle or lese / the goodnes of vertues whyche thou haste goten wythoute the courte / I saye to the whan thou enforcest the to entre / thenne begynnest thou to lese the seygnorye of thy self. (v) Striking about Chartier’s depiction is that courtly patronage appears entrepreneurial rather than underwritten by a stable system of authority. Indeed, Chartier’s court is less a three-dimensional place than a temporary social agreement, a covenant of people, an assembly gathered together for the purpose of trade. What is cultivated at home—the liberty and franchise associated with one’s private domain, “our humanyte precyous,” or “the seygnorye of thy self”—is put on sale. So within the court, the terms of exchange—selling, buying, exchanging, renting, leasing—pile up in a world of pimping and prostitution. Strikingly, ac-

158 a u t h o r s h i p a n d t h e c h a u c e r i a n i n h e r i t a n c e

Kuskin Ch 4

11/15/07

9:32 AM

Page 159

cording to Chartier, this system is fundamentally about language; he states, “And allewaye emonge vs courtyours enfayned / we folowe more the names of tho±yces / than the droytes and ryghtes / we be verbal / or ful of wordes / and desyre more the wordes than the thynges” (iv). We are verbal and our desire fixates not on things but on the linguistic representation of things. And so the goodness and virtue cultivated at home are bought and sold, the individual reduced to the name of his or her o¤ce. Chartier’s Curial sketches a world in which representation replaces being, a world circulating not so much people as the signifiers of their public selves, not so much Anthony and William, as the manner and fourme of the earl and printer. This is what Caxton does well: he produces things that are verbal, that represent people, identities, and places. Books put intangibles— labor, history, precious humanity—into circulation and match the desire for ownership with a symbolic object. So, Chartier begs his brother not to come to court, telling him that “thou sechest the way to lese they self” (iv) and itemizes the ways courtly life transforms the self into a mere representation. His advice may be genuine, but behind it is the lingering suspicion that he is already too far gone to o±er his brother legitimate counsel, already too much part and product of the system he denounces. Perhaps Chartier truly does wish for his brother’s well-being. Perhaps he dreads another rival. Perhaps he is enamored of his own cynical evocation of the world around him. Regardless, the only thing that the reader can say for sure is that the speaker of this epistle is already a component part of the larger economy. The same is true for Caxton. For by now it should be clear that though Caxton may play the monkey, he is as much a courtier as anyone else, and his oddly shadowy tribute to Woodville operates according to the same codes as Chartier’s advice: surely Caxton lamented Woodville’s loss and would decry the excesses of Richard’s court, but just so, he continues to participate in it. When the local populace threatened his shop some years later, Richard Pynson picked it up and moved out; Caxton, in contrast, remains at Westminster through thick and thin. That we are verbal and desire words suggests the power of language to appropriate people, and Caxton’s Curial does exactly that to Woodville: it appropriates his persona in its representation of some now-lost relationship and in doing so uses him to underwrite its commentary on life at court; in turn, its knowing condemnation of courtly

u n i n h a b i t a b l e c h a u c e r 159

Kuskin Ch 4

11/15/07

9:32 AM

Page 160

behavior proves the validity of its representation and extends this knowledge to the interested reader. That is, he has reduced Woodville’s individuality to a representation—“a noble and vertuous Erle”—which he has attached to an object and brought to market. Caxton’s intentions are like Chartier’s: they may or may not be sincere, but they nevertheless participate in an economy that has much less to do with clearly defined roles than with opportunism and exploitation. Rather than reading the Curial as cloaking some deep and abiding loyalty to a lost patron, we should see it as a strategic exploitation of that loyalty. By o±ering a pointed statement of fact in an elegiac mode, Caxton legitimizes his own appropriation of rhetorical manipulation. The Curial operates by a strategy for reproduction that is simultaneously a strategy for legitimization, and in this it provides an important reminder for any definition of patronage: the authority of a work, or a patron, does not stand apart from the patronage relationship (as might an artistic gift to a noble patron or a cash reward to a courtly poet), rather it is generated through it. Patronage is a social relationship premised on the joint production of authority. The current narrative of fifteenth-century literary culture finds little place for such an interest in linguistic representation and even less for the poetic amateurs who populate its court, courtier-poets like de la Pole who identified themselves through an association with canonical authors, courtier-translators such as Anthony Woodville who defined themselves through books, and, more loosely, aristocratic reading communities such as the group of writers associated with Sir John Fastolf, known as the Caister circle. As long as this group is ignored, the courtly poet of the sixteenth century appears sui generis. Thus, this chapter asks, if Lydgate is to occupy Chaucer’s place, where do these writers fit? It begins to answer this question by reading Anthony Woodville’s translation of the Dictes and Sayings of the Philosophers (STC 6826) toward a definition of patronage that allows room for a more dynamic consideration of the construction of literary authority. “Myn Hert ys Set” lends a useful reminder here: as much as the Chaucerian inheritance of poetic authority was recognized as having a coherent legacy, it was also understood as partially uninhabitable by lesser writers, who nevertheless defined themselves in relation to Chaucer by strategizing ways of participating in and appropriating the canon without making a direct claim to his authority. In a further likeness to “Myn Hert ys Set,” their strategy is premised on a discus-

160 a u t h o r s h i p a n d t h e c h a u c e r i a n i n h e r i t a n c e

Kuskin Ch 4

11/15/07

9:32 AM

Page 161

sion of antifeminism. Jennifer Summit has pointed out that Christine de Pizan’s works appealed to various reading groups within England, for “the concept of ‘the woman writer,’” she argues, “became a major cornerstone around which fundamental notions of authorship, writing, and literary tradition were first constructed.”7 Thus, in the second part of this chapter I read Woodville’s 1478 translation of Christine de Pizan’s Morale Prouerbes (STC 7273) and Caxton’s 1489 translation of her Fayts of Arms (STC 7269) for John de Vere as providing a model for authorship usable to the courtly writer. That the simple opposition between male and female writing does not account for the production of literary authority in the last quarter of the century suggests how the forms of authority are interwoven throughout a number of discourses. It also points to the interest men and women had in reading about gender identities. Patronage conflates other categories as well, and in the chapter’s third section I argue that Margaret Beaufort’s involvement in a series of printed liturgical works and vernacular sermons demonstrates how it operates as a structure for the large-scale commercial production of spiritual literature. Conceived of romantically, patronage frames Caxton’s work through a series of complacent categories: servile poets and arrogant nobles, dowagers and matrons, chivalric feudal knights and pious laywomen readers. In doing so it obscures the importance of late fifteenth-century literary culture in the history of English writing, reading, and authorship. Reconceived as intertwining a number of discourses—the production of persona, feminism and antifeminism, commercial production and lay spirituality—the question of patronage becomes, in fact, a question of social authority.

Anthony Woodville and the Problem with Patronage One way into the problem of patronage is through Caxton’s relationship with Anthony Woodville, a relationship suggestive of both a collaborative writing process and the precise distinctions between manuscript and print forms available in late fifteenth-century England. Woodville’s works are all accompanied by original writing by both men, and they remain in manuscript and print: Woodville’s source text for Christine de Pizan’s Morale Prouerbes, printed by Caxton and later by Pynson, remains

u n i n h a b i t a b l e c h a u c e r 161

Kuskin Ch 4

11/15/07

9:32 AM

Page 162

in Harley 4431; versions of Woodville’s Dictes and Sayings of the Philosophers were copied into Lambeth Palace Library, MS 265, Additional MS 22718, and Newberry MS Ry.20; and the 1479 Cordyal was copied into Sloane MS 779.8 Ultimately, there can be no question that Caxton’s literary experience overlapped with Woodville’s, and that their relationship hits on the intersection between the noble and non-noble classes. Still, any inquiry must recognize that fifteenth-century nobility did not simply dictate to the wealthier sections of the merchant class but took advantage of that class’s role in cultural production. I argue, then, that Caxton’s work with Woodville responds to the problems of paternity latent in the Chaucerian inheritance and obvious in the Wars of the Roses, to the twinned di¤culties of literary and political reproduction of authority that so dominated late fifteenth-century culture, with a process similar to feudalism itself: patronage provides a framework for the production of authority, and in the case of Caxton and Woodville it responds to the problems of paternity with the construction of a specifically literary persona. Born the second son in a Lancastrian family, Anthony Woodville had few direct sources of income. His father, Richard, himself a second son, was knighted by Henry VI in 1426, and he accompanied William and Alice de la Pole to France for Margaret of Anjou’s marriage. With Elizabeth Woodville’s marriage to Edward IV on May 1, 1464, Anthony became the scion of the Yorkist court, jousting in Bruges and in Smithfield, adopting his father’s title upon his death at Towton field in 1469, sailing with Edward IV and Richard when they fled Warwick in 1471, and leading the resistance against Lord Fauconbourg’s rebellion upon Edward’s return. Still, Woodville’s position at the end of the Wars of the Roses was by no means guaranteed: in July 1471 Edward revoked his control of Calais and forced him to surrender the constableship of England; further, Edward denied support to Anthony’s projected crusade to Portugal, reportedly calling him a coward for even considering it. Woodville consolidated his position through royal patronage. In 1471 Edward named his first son Prince of Wales, Duke of Cornwall, and Earl of Chester, granting him the estates behind these titles but, initially at least, withholding the income, and delegating administrative responsibility to a bureaucratic council headed by John Alcock and packed with royal councillors. Over the next two years Edward developed the

162 a u t h o r s h i p a n d t h e c h a u c e r i a n i n h e r i t a n c e

Kuskin Ch 4

11/15/07

9:32 AM

Page 163

prince’s authority as an instrument of control over Wales, first by granting the prince the income of his estates, then by authorizing him to recruit retainers, and subsequently by moving him to Ludlow with Woodville as his governor. By late 1472 the queen and Woodville dominated the prince’s royal council, operating the signet and controlling his finances themselves. The movement of power here is significant: Edward, motivated to police Wales, sets out his son as a titular figurehead; once in place, this structure opens up an arena in which individuals can appropriate authority for themselves. The result is that Edward’s extension of authority infuses Woodville’s and the queen’s authority to such an extent that Woodville is able to blur his with the prince’s. For instance, Woodville appears to have drawn o± the prince’s treasury freely and, in turn, paid royals bills from his own accounts.9 Woodville was able to develop this power base over the next decade, so by 1482–83 he could raise upwards of five thousand men from Wales, Lancashire, and Cheshire.10 This political mechanism parallels the process of the Chaucerian inheritance: just as the consolidation of Chaucer’s authority allows fifteenthcentury writers to formulate their own authority by appropriating it, so the consolidation of the prince’s authority a±ords Woodville the opportunity to appropriate authority for himself. We can see this parallel played out in Woodville’s literary productions, which consistently align him with the prince to define him as pious and chivalric, capable with books and weapons alike.11 Indeed, the Woodville family as a whole cultivated an interest in books. Anthony’s father, Sir Richard Woodville, was the second husband to Jacquetta of Luxembourg, widow of John, Duke of Bedford, English custodian of Charles V’s royal library. A number of books from the royal library passed from Bedford, through Jacquetta, to Anthony, such as the holograph manuscript of Christine de Pizan, Harley 4431, made for Isabeau of Bavaria, which bears Woodville’s signature, and de Pizan’s Livre du corps de policie, which remains in a single English translation, CUL MS Kk.1.5, as the Bodye of Polyce, perhaps owned by Woodville.12 Woodville is unique among his clan in that, with Caxton, he pressed this interest into the creation of a literary persona. For example, his 1477 translation of the Dictes and Sayings of the Philosophers opens with a first-person prologue (unsigned, 1–2) identifying him—“I Antoine wydeuille Erle Ryuyeres / lord Scales & c”—and describing the occasion on which he

u n i n h a b i t a b l e c h a u c e r 163

Kuskin Ch 4

11/15/07

9:32 AM

Page 164

discovered the book. After reflecting on worldly mutability, “the stormes of fortune” to which every human creature is subject, he narrates his pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in the jubilee year of 1473, a point he emphasizes in the Cordyal too. While in the Spanish sea, he recounts, he found himself in a “grete acqueyntaunce” of “worshipful folkes,” and for a recreacoin & a passyng of tyme I had delyte & axed to rede somme good historye And among other ther was that season in my companye a worshipful gentylmann callid lowys de Bretaylles / whiche gretly delited hym in alle vertuouse and honest thynges / that sayd to me / he hath there a book that he trusted I shuld lyke it right wele / and brought it to me / whyche book I had neuer seen before + and is called the saynges or dictis of the Philosophers. (unsigned, 1r–v) Examining the book, Woodville discovers it to be a Fürstenspiegel, “a glorious fayr myrrour to alle good cristen people,” which “speketh also vniuersally to thexample + weel and doctryne of alle kynges prynces and to people of euery estate” (unsigned, 1v). He reflects that he “coude not at that season ner in al that pilgremage tyme haue leyzer to ouersee it,” but as the “kynges grace comaunde me to gyue myn attendaunce upon my lorde the Prince,” he decides to obtain a manuscript of his own (“other of the same bookes”) and “translate it in to thenglyssh tonge.” The narrative is carefully crafted to place Woodville in a number of contexts. So, the occasion of the pilgrimage not only defines his humility (Woodville made further pilgrimages to Rome, Salerno, and Bari in 1475–76; he wore a hairshirt),13 but positions him as a pilgrim among a group of pilgrims: Louis de Bretailles was one of the knight-bibliophiles of the Burgundian court, which included Louis of Bruges, Oliver de la Marche, Antoine de la Roche (the Bastard of Burgundy), and Charles the Bold. Woodville cultivated his connection to these men in martial ways as well: in 1467 he jousted against de la Roche and Bretailles at Smithfield, and in 1468 he participated with de la Roche in the spectacular tournament celebrating Margaret of York’s wedding to Charles, the pas de l’arbre d’or.14 Though the narrative styles him as an initiate into this Burgundian community,

164 a u t h o r s h i p a n d t h e c h a u c e r i a n i n h e r i t a n c e

Kuskin Ch 4

11/15/07

9:32 AM

Page 165

Woodville’s prose quietly phrases him as an English reader, specifically, as a reader of Chaucer: not merely a pilgrim among Burgundian knights, he finds himself in “that season” among a “company” of “folkes.” As in Caxton’s Recuyell and Canterbury Tales, the prefatory material o±ers textual history as personal history, occasioning an autobiographical recollection that is both generic—imagining Woodville as the fifteenth-century chivalric hero—and specific, placing him in the context of the Burgundian nobility, but also suggesting his Englishness. In this, it participates in the promotion of a form of propaganda that overlays Woodville’s litigious and commercial career (from 1471 he was involved in four suits to entail manors; and he is recorded as trading in wheat, timber, and Welsh sheep for London sale)15 to identify him as a man who values culture over cash, fitting a prince’s governor and guardian. Knight-reader: Woodville’s persona combines chivalry with books. The text of the Dictes follows out this process by telling the history of bibliographical authority. The Dictes and Sayings of the Philosophers is a compendium of authorized statements: it assembles the biographies of twenty-two philosophers, each with a list of sentence-long sayings beginning “¶ And saide.” The original version, the Mokhtâr el-Hikam, was compiled by Abul’l Wefa Mubeschschir ben Fatik in Damascus around 1053, translated into Spanish as the Bocados de oro in the thirteenth century, into Latin in around 1250 as the Liber moralium philosophorum (perhaps by Emperor Frederick II’s physician Johannes de Prodica), and then into French in 1400 by Guillaume de Tignonville, royal chamberlain, as the Dits des philosophes. De Tignonville’s translation shows some influence of Guillaume de Conches’ Moralis philosophia and, as Curtis Bühler points out, is considerably shorter than the Latin.16 Caxton’s partner in Bruges, Colard Mansion, printed a version of this text. Woodville knew of Caxton’s early work with Mansion and based his translation of the Cordyal on their 1475 French edition.17 Caxton explains his relationship to Woodville in his epilogue (unsigned, 74–76v ): It is so that at suche tyme as he had accomplysshid this sayd werke / it liked him to sende it to me in certayn quayers to oversee / whiche ferthwith I sawe & fonde therin many grete + notable+ and wyse sayengis of the philosphres Acordyng vnto the bookes made in fren-

u n i n h a b i t a b l e c h a u c e r 165

Kuskin Ch 4

11/15/07

9:32 AM

Page 166

she whiche I had ofte afore redd / But certaynly I had seen none in englissh til that tyme. The passage recalls Caxton’s relationship with his first patron, Margaret of York. Here, however, it is Caxton who is master of the text, and Woodville, his social superior, the intellectual disciple. Caxton goes on to recount that after reading the manuscript, he visited Woodville, praising him for his work. When pressed to “ouersee” the text, Caxton recounts, “I coude not amende it / But if I sholde so presume I might apaire it.” And so he notes a number of minor passages Woodville has edited out, most of which, he reports, “were lityl appertinent,” except for the “dyctes and sayengys of Socrates,” which, Caxton marvels, Woodville has passed over completely. The problem is that Socrates’ edicts are antifeminist. Caxton ponders the possibilities: perhaps “som fayr lady” desired Woodville to leave the passage out because of its o±ensive nature. Perhaps Woodville “was amerous on somme noble lady.” Perhaps his love of all women forbade him to include it. He rationalizes: Socrates was a Greek, and Greek men and women are of an “other nature than they ben here in this contre For I wote wel + of what someuer condicion women ben in Grece.” If Socrates had known English women, he muses, “I dar plainly saye that he wold haue reserued them inespeciall in his sayd dictes.” Finally, he reflects on the nature of books themselves: maybe the passage wasn’t in Woodville’s copy, “or ellis perauenture that the wynde had blowe ouer the leef / at the tyme of translacion of his booke.” And so Caxton “apaire[s]” Woodville’s translation by adding Socrates’ edicts on women. We can read shape into the Dictes’ many atomized statements by following Caxton’s lead back to the Socrates section. Woodville translates part of the Socrates section (24v–34v) as unifying philosophical knowledge, but denying the validity of writing. In fact, this section begins a narrative of Socrates’ “disciples and disciples of his disciples” which, in turn, tells a history of literary authority, giving temporary shape to this sprawling work. For Socrates’ biography sets out a problem about the relationship between authority and books, drawing a parallel between the passage of his lineage and his wisdom. In both cases, Socrates’ choices are disastrous. His marriage is apparently a failure of historical proportions (“he wedded the worst woman that was in all the lande”; unsigned, 24v), and though he would keep his wisdom pure by setting it only in his mind, this plan operates at a total

166 a u t h o r s h i p a n d t h e c h a u c e r i a n i n h e r i t a n c e

Kuskin Ch 4

11/15/07

9:32 AM

Page 167

loss: “it was a great hinderaunce to all his successours / for he wold not su±re his science to be writtenn” (unsigned, 24v). Hitting on concerns apparent throughout his publications (the importance of setting textual meaning in the mind is reminiscent of Little John, and the problems of manuscript transmission are apparent in the codices of the Canterbury Tales), this is a position clearly in opposition to Caxton’s own thinking on the durability of the written record, as Caxton points out: “I can not thinke that so trewe aman & so noble a Phylosophre as Socrates was shold wryte other wyse than trouthe,” he writes, “for If he had made fawte in wryting of women + He ought not ne shold not be beleuyd in hys other dyctes and sayings.” More broadly, though, the problems of Socratic philosophy are also the problems of Chaucerian poetry: Socrates imagines philosophy as a “science [. . .] pure and clene / wherfore it was couenable / she shulde be onely sette in mynde and corrage and not in skynnes of dede bestes nor in no suche corrupte thingis” (unsigned, 24v), and this recalls Chaucer’s own depiction of Christ’s transcendental plain speech in the General Prologue to the Canterbury Tales. Thus, just as Socrates is the acknowledged father of a long line of philosophers who is unwilling to set his teaching in writing, Chaucer is a lost father who sets in motion a patrimony di¤cult, if not impossible, to inherit. The Socrates section thus begins a genealogical narrative within Dictes and Sayings of the Philosophers which focuses on the inheritance of literary authority. Plato’s section proceeds from Socrates’ by redressing the problem of books. In contrast to Socrates, Plato’s biography is bookish—he reads and writes—but just so, his words are veiled in allegory, the obscure cousins to his meanings: “the sayd Platon dide teche his sapyance by allegorye / to thentent that hyt shuld not be vnderstande but by wytty men + And he lerened hit of Tymeo and of Socrates / he made + vj / bookis / & preched and taught the people that they shulde yeue graces and thankes to god for his goodenesses & mercy” (unsigned 34v). Following him, Aristotle is increasingly textual, and his section recounts his defense of grammar, rhetoric, and poetry, concluding, And therfore it is good to compose and make bookis by the whiche science shalbe lerned / & whan our memorie shal fayle it shalbe recouered by meane of bookis for he that hateth science shal not pro¤te in hit though it be so that he se the bookis & biholde hem yet

u n i n h a b i t a b l e c h a u c e r 167

Kuskin Ch 4

11/15/07

9:32 AM

Page 168

shal he sette not by it / but departe wors & lesse wyse than he was a fore+ & I have made and ordeigned my bookis in suche forme that the wyse men shal lightly & aisely vnderstande hem but the ignoraunt man shal haue but litil auayle by hem. (unsigned, 41r –v) It is good to make books. The passage both emphasizes the narrative line across the philosophers and buttresses a general argument for the logic and authority of books themselves, even allowing Aristotle to reflect on this, marking the temporal movement from his predecessor, Plato. Woodville’s translation terms Aristotle “asouuerain clerk” (unsigned, 40v), and the identification is clear: the defense of poetry o±ered here is a defense of the Dictes and Sayings themselves, of Woodville’s role as governor to the princes, as courtier, but also as clerk. In this, the text illustrates the paradox of fifteenth-century literary culture: on the one hand, we can see the Dictes as the most medieval of Caxton’s imprints, a compendium of vaguely recognized names attached to a generalized set of authorized, if sometimes platitudinous, maxims worked over by Muslim and Christian compilers through the course of history; on the other hand, we find within it a cogent argument for the political e¤cacy of literary authority put to immediate and pragmatic ends, a justification for the literary courtier-councillor. Indeed, in this regard, the work seems tremendously modern in that it casts a long view back across history precisely to search out and justify its own sense of literary authority. If the Dictes and Sayings encounters the same problems as the Chaucerian inheritance— the di¤culty of inheriting a paternal legacy; the relationship between material and intellectual forms of literary production—it resolves them by narrating a history of the book. Like the anonymous poet of “Myn Hert ys Set,” Woodville fashions himself as a reader of Chaucer; in contrast to that poet, however, he e±ectively asserts his name in print, not as inheriting the Chaucerian legacy but by becoming, as he defines Aristotle, a “sovereign clerk.” That the Yorkist court was aware of the connection between literary and political authority is clear at the end of the Wars of the Roses.18 In January 1478 Edward married his second son, the four-year-old Richard, Duke of York, to the five-year-old Anne Mowbray, heiress to that family’s estates. Again, Edward set up a council managing his son’s estates, and again this council was dominated by Queen Elizabeth and

168 a u t h o r s h i p a n d t h e c h a u c e r i a n i n h e r i t a n c e

Kuskin Ch 4

11/15/07

9:32 AM

Page 169

Woodville, fitting as young Richard already resided with them at Ludlow. The wedding was celebrated on January 15 in St. Stephen’s Chapel by an assembly of families: the Yorks—the Duchess of York, the Duke of Gloucester, the crown prince, the queen—and the Woodvilles—the Marquis of Dorset and Lord Grey, Anthony Woodville, Lord Richard Grey, and the Duke of Buckingham. This was followed by the trial of Clarence for treason in January 1478, and his execution on February 18. On January 22, 1478, just after the marriage but before the execution, Woodville jousted in the great tournament in the palace yard dressed as a white hermit in a portable black velvet hermitage, consecrating the events in the spectacle of performance that asserted his combined role as a chivalric hero. Marriage, trial, and pageant consolidate Yorkist authority by shaping the family tree, grafting the once-Lancastrian-now-Yorkist Woodvilles onto its trunk and paring away possibly unruly branches. They eliminate the claimants to the Yorks’ throne by setting Edward above his brothers, asserting him as a father capable of bestowing a bride and meting out punishment among his children dispassionately. Books participate in this construction of authority. Specifically, around Christmas 1477 Woodville presented the king with a manuscript version of his translation of the Dictes and Sayings of the Philosophers, Lambeth Palace Library, MS 265, finished on the twenty-fourth of December of that year.19 A deluxe presentation manuscript, Lambeth Palace 265 seems to have been copied from some prototype manuscript of Caxton’s second edition, perhaps Woodville’s working revision.20 It includes Caxton’s epilogue and famously memorializes its own presentation on the verso of leaf I (fig. 4.1). Imagining the presentation before it happened, the illustration stages in advance the very reality in which the book participates, providing a tableau of the drama of patronage. In it, Edward’s chamber—perhaps the chapel in which he married his son and condemned his brother—becomes a theatrical space: bound by three walls and a ceiling it is a diorama of noble events and royal participants. Our voyeurism is encouraged by a number of details: the entire scene is framed out for the manuscript’s reader by a thick border, and onlookers peer in through a doorway that is itself a window. The architectural features set the stage as well: the floor slants at a convenient angle, the rear wall is punctuated by windows to suggest a backdrop of viewing, and the background screen tightens the playing space on the main participants,

u n i n h a b i t a b l e c h a u c e r 169

Kuskin Ch 4

11/15/07

9:32 AM

Page 170

Figure 4.1. Miniature, Dictes and Sayings of the Philosophers, Lambeth Palace Library, MS 265, 1v. By permission of Lambeth Palace Library, London /Bridgeman Art Library.

who are choreographed in a triangular arrangement. The royal family, sitting on a carpeted dais, is framed by a filigree border above their heads; Woodville and the manuscript’s scribe, Heywarde, kneel before them as a second unit; a group of nobles and tonsured clerics stand between them. The stability o±ered by this arrangement is furthered in subtle ways. The units are organized by number (two are kneeling, the royal family is a group of three, and, because one member of the standing group is obscured, four are standing) and by their roles: Woodville is depicted as a chivalric hero; Heywarde, tonsured and robed in black, appears as his clerical alter ego, the bookish and pious shadow to his martial persona. The group of four figures in the middle of the illustration is a mixture of

170 a u t h o r s h i p a n d t h e c h a u c e r i a n i n h e r i t a n c e

Kuskin Ch 4

11/15/07

9:32 AM

Page 171

estates: one, perhaps Gloucester, is clearly part of the royal family but not directly associated with them, two appear to be tonsured, and one is indeterminate, perhaps a wealthy commoner. The diorama proposes that in looking in on the Yorkists in 1478 we see a unified court. Everything in the scene argues for balance and connection: the group of four looks both ways, three looking to the king, one down at Woodville; Woodville’s and Heywarde’s hands point toward the royal family, and, in turn, the royal family’s hands point back at them. The two main figures in the middle cluster of people each raise one hand toward the royal family, and lower one hand toward Woodville and Heywarde. In contrast to Caxton’s copperplate engraving in the Recuyell, the main event of the presentation is clearly depicted: the book is an object of connection between courtier and the king. The scene draws a smooth passage between Woodville’s petition and the king’s authority, illustrating an image of concord centered around the book. If Edward is much larger than the other figures, it can only be to suggest that his authority naturally dominates the entire picture as king, rather than as Yorkist usurper or fratricide. He is a patriarch, head of his family and the court. In this, however, the illustration constructs a scene still to be fulfilled by reality, for the production of the manuscript predates Edward’s decisions of January and February. By 1478 paternity was absent from the English court: Richard of York—father of the three most powerful men in England by Caxton’s return, Edward, Clarence, and Gloucester— and Richard, Earl of Salisbury—father of Richard Neville, the kingmaker—were both dead almost twenty years, executed after the battle of Wakefield in 1460; the Lord Rivers, Richard Woodville, was executed by Warwick and Clarence at Bristol in 1469, leaving the queen and her brother, Anthony, fatherless; the Lancastrian male line was entirely eliminated after 1471, as was its acting patriarch, Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick; even Owen Tudor was killed in 1460. The main figures surrounding the Yorkist court, Edward, Clarence, Richard, Margaret of York, Elizabeth, and Anthony Woodville, were all born within ten years of each other, and of them, only Elizabeth and Anthony had known their father into their twenties. To this courtly culture paternity was a distant form of authority compared with immediate rivalry. Witness the 1486 continuation of the Croyland Chronicle, which remarks of Edward, Clarence, and Richard that “these three brothers, the king and the two

u n i n h a b i t a b l e c h a u c e r 171

Kuskin Ch 4

11/15/07

9:32 AM

Page 172

dukes, were possessed of such surpassing talents, that, if they had been able to live without dissensions, such a threefold cord could never have been broken without the utmost di¤culty.”21 What the chronicle proposes is not the rivalry of father against son, but a generation set against itself. If Lancastrian poetry is in some fundamental way about the inheritance of fathers to sons—from Henry IV to Henry, Prince of Wales, and Henry VI, from Chaucer to Hoccleve and Lydgate—Caxton’s editions of the Chaucerian poets are about a generation of sons and daughters sorting this inheritance out. To this generation the Lambeth Palace illustration, like the Book of Courtesy printed so close on it, teaches that paternity is a symbolic construction of public self-fashioning. Edward’s court follows this out in a variety of ways, to assert—through marriage, execution, and books—that he is the patriarch over a social collective, not of brothers and sisters but of fathers, sons, and daughters. “We be verbal / or ful of wordes / and desyre more the wordes than the thynges,” reminds the Curial, and so Lambeth Palace, MS 265, works as a tangible thing passed between individuals which contains what amount to instructions for its use: the staging suggested by the miniature, the discussions within Caxton’s prologues and epilogues of authority, and the history of the book within its covers. The book’s function is less to commemorate a fixed patronage relationship than to reproduce the social relations involved in its production according to one possible depiction of authority; in doing so it also serves to legitimize itself. Print and manuscript production are related, yet they operate in slightly di±erent ways. The Lambeth Palace manuscript is tailored to make a specific statement about the performance of authority in the Yorkist court. The printed Dictes belongs to a much wider reading community.22 Caxton claims that in producing the Dictes he had not seen it elsewhere, but in fact the work was frequently copied in England: it was first translated from French around 1450 by Stephen Scrope, stepson to the English knight John Fastolf. This translation remains in five manuscripts and gave rise to an abbreviated version (Bodleian, MS, Rawlinson Poet.32), and a full revision by William Worcester (Scrope’s colleague in the service of Fastolf ), testified to by the colophon to CUL MS Dd.IX.19, which tells that Worcester revised Scrope’s edition in March 1472. A separate anonymous translation of the Dictes also exists, dated from the 1450s and remaining in one manuscript. George Ashby wrote a

172 a u t h o r s h i p a n d t h e c h a u c e r i a n i n h e r i t a n c e

Kuskin Ch 4

11/15/07

9:32 AM

Page 173

verse paraphrase of the work in 1473 as well. Though Caxton claims not to have known of these versions, the Woodville faction and Fastolf ’s Caister circle were well aware of one another: Richard Woodville and John Fastolf both fought in France, and Anthony Woodville was involved in an extended legal bid to seize Caister Castle.23 Caxton and Woodville’s publications match the Caister’s circle’s point for point: both translate a version of the Dictes, texts by Christine de Pizan ( Woodville translates the Morale Prouerbes; Scrope, the L’Epitre d’Othéa à Hector, and Worcester, selections of Le livre des faits d’armes et de chevalerie), and Chartier (Scrope, La Belle Dame sans Merci; Caxton, the Curial ). Caxton revisits the issue of how much he knows in 1481 in his prologue to the three-part translation of Cicero, Of Old Age; Of Friendship; Of Nobility, where, in the prologue to Of Old Age, he tells that the book “was translated and thystores openly declared by + the ordenaunce & desire of the noble Auncyent knight Syr johan fastolf” (STC 5293; 1.2), and goes on to give some account of Fastolf ’s military prowess. Yet Caxton seems at some pains to elide the work of Scrope and Worcester here, passing over their actual e±orts and going on to attribute the next two books to an equally martial figure, Sir John Tiptoft, Earl of Worcester. Tiptoft was a book collector who studied at Oxford, Ferrara, and Padua; his early humanist learning is well documented.24 And like Fastolf, Tiptoft also patronized men of letters, notably the English humanist John Free. Scrope was Tiptoft’s cousin.25 In this way Caxton suggests that his literary circle is distinct from Fastolf’s, London based, inspired by Woodville, and open to anonymous participation. In historical fact, however, the Caister circle defines a manuscript precedent for Caxton’s strategy for print. As with the Chaucerian tradition, print reproduces manuscript culture with a significant di±erence: it changes social relationships surrounding literary production, reducing the book down to a clear authority—Chaucer, Woodville, Caxton—and multiplying it outward, abstracted from one particular reading community and disseminated for retail sale.

Christine de Pizan and the Demand for Gender Caxton’s prologue to the Dictes frames Socrates’ misogyny as a central way into the text. “And he sawe a Iong mayde that lerned to wryte / of

u n i n h a b i t a b l e c h a u c e r 173

Kuskin Ch 4

11/15/07

9:32 AM

Page 174

whom he sayde + that me multiplied euyl upon euyll” (unsigned, 75v)—it invites his readers to discover that women cannot write. Caxton brackets this sentiment with a variety of qualifications—it is not Woodville’s, it does not apply to English women—but the message is clear: the Dictes and Sayings, a book that contains within it a history and justification of books, closes with an antifeminist coda. Yet Woodville’s portfolio clearly recognizes women’s writing: for example, two months after presenting the Lambeth Palace manuscript, Caxton produced a folio pamphlet of Woodville’s translation of Christine de Pizan’s Dits moraux, titled The Morale Prouerbes of Cristyne (STC 7273).26 The Morale Prouerbes, a collection of 101 couplets that de Pizan wrote for the benefit of her son, Jean Castel, who served the Earl of Salisbury, fits well with the Dictes’ pedagogical focus.27 Caxton’s edition ends with two rhyme-royal stanzas that frame Woodville’s authority in relation to de Pizan’s: Of these say ynges Christyne was aucteuresse Whiche in makyng hadde suche Intelligence That therof she was mireur & maistresse Hire werkes testifie thexperience In frenssh languaige was writenn this sentence And thus Englished dooth hit rehers Antoin wideuylle therl Ryuers Go thou litil quayer / and recommaund me Vnto the good grace / of my special lorde Therle Ryueris . for I haue enprinted the At his commandement . folowyng eury worde His copye / as his secretaire can recorde At Westmestre . of feuerer the . xx . daye And of kyng Edward / the . xvii . yere vraye Enprinted by Caxton In feuerer the colde season 28 The passage defines de Pizan as an “aucteuresse” who makes with intelligence. It grounds her authority in the experience of making books and sets her out as both mirror for and “maistresse” over Woodville. The ac-

174 a u t h o r s h i p a n d t h e c h a u c e r i a n i n h e r i t a n c e

Kuskin Ch 4

11/15/07

9:32 AM

Page 175

tual manuscript that Woodville used, Harley MS 4431, is a large folio, dated between 1410 and 1415, which collects de Pizan’s poems and bears Jacquetta of Luxembourg’s and Anthony Woodville’s signatures. De Pizan wrote and oversaw the production of this codex for Isabeau of Bavaria, and it passed from her to Jacquetta, who was married first to the English regent of France, John, Duke of Bedford, and then to Sir Richard Woodville, Anthony’s father. De Pizan o±ers a significant example of an author, one who, unlike Chaucer, maintained control over her writings through the production cycle, shepherding their passage from work to text. Woodville’s first printed texts play out feminist and antifeminist positions, and in doing so move in di±erent directions: one excludes women from the history of the book; the other makes a woman writer central to his ongoing construction of a literary identity. Women cannot write; women are authorities. The contradiction frames a question: if female authority is surrounded by misogynist claims, why does it appear so prominently in the early history of print? Jennifer Summit refers to de Pizan’s larger literary history as a “troubling paradox: at the very zenith of her works’ influence among English readers, Christine’s status as an author of these works was thrown into question.”29 For example, as Summit has demonstrated, in his translation of L’Epitre d’Othéa, Scrope avoids de Pizan’s authorial identity by creating a biography for her in which she is a less an authority and more a patron of “famous doctours of . . . the nobyl Vniuersyte o± Paris.”30 Similarly, the French imprints of Le livre des faits d’armes, including Antoine Vérard’s of 1488 and Philippe le Noir’s of 1527, completely eliminate any reference to her name or gender.31 Caxton printed his own translation of this work in 1489 as the Fayts of Arms (STC 7269) for John de Vere, the Earl of Oxford, who, Caxton explains, delivered a French manuscript to him on behalf of Henry VII. As with Woodville, Caxton produced a series of texts for de Vere: in addition to the Fayts of Arms, he translated a now lost life of Robert, Earl of Oxford, and, in 1490, an edition of the Four Sonnes of Amyon (STC 1007). Caxton’s edition of the Fayts of Arms not only maintains de Pizan’s name but recognizes her in its organizational framework: announcing her authorial role apart from the text in the opening “table of rubryshys” (p1), the rubric to chapter 1 (a1), the opening rubric of the third and fourth books (L4, P1r), and the rubrics to the first chapters of those books (L4, P3), in addition to her prologue (a1–a2)

u n i n h a b i t a b l e c h a u c e r 175

Kuskin Ch 4

11/15/07

9:32 AM

Page 176

and his epilogue (S5r–v). For the courtiers connected to Caxton’s shop, de Pizan is a sovereign clerk of the highest order, a mirror for the rhetorical production of authority. In charge of her own scriptorium, she is a unique authorial model. For the readers of Caxton’s texts, her authority thus frames a larger debate, an English querelle des dames stripped of its literary specificity, reduced to its sensational essence, and multiplied outward. This suggests that women participated in fifteenth-century literary production in manifold ways: as literary models, as patrons, as translators and producers, and as consumers.32 Traditionally, Woodville and Oxford have been understood as defining two distinct phases of patronage in Caxton’s career, Yorkist and early Tudor. I suggest that this view overlooks the common denominator: both courtiers promote their identities in print through texts by Christine de Pizan. In the face of the lost father, late fifteenth-century English courtiers, translators, and printers turn to Christine de Pizan; in doing so, they find an authority not monumental but accessible, and write a literary history not just of paternity but of female authors and readers. Le livre des faits d’armes can be dated to after 1408 and is a compilation based mainly on Flavius Vegetius Renatus’s Instituta rei militaris and the fourth part of Honoré Bonet’s L’arbre des batailles. To this, de Pizan added sections from Sextus Iulius Frontinus’s Strategemata, Valerius Maximus’s Facta et dicta memorabilia, an original prologue featuring Minerva, a dream vision introducing Bonet, as well as various smaller allusions to contemporary events and military techniques.33 De Pizan’s initial prologue sets out a simile likening writing to siege warfare, which a±ords her a way of talking about literary production. Here, as in the last stanzas of the Morale Prouerbes, de Pizan’s authority comes from her prior experience with books: “after myne other escriptures passed / lyke as he that hath to forn beten doun many stronge edyfices / is more hardy to charge hym self defye or to bete doun a castell or forteresse whan he feleth hym self garnysshed of couenable stu±e thererto necesarye” (A1). There is some irony invested in this simile for the reader familiar with de Pizan’s writings, for in La cité des dames she fashions herself as a constructor of buildings, while here she assails them. Still, as in that work, the governing simile allows de Pizan to discuss the di¤culty of being a female writer, and as the prologue continues she remarks that writing a book of martial arts “is thyng not accustomed & out of vsage to wymen /

176 a u t h o r s h i p a n d t h e c h a u c e r i a n i n h e r i t a n c e

Kuskin Ch 4

11/15/07

9:32 AM

Page 177

whiche comynly do not entremete but to spynne on the distaf & ocupie theim in thynges of houshold” (A1v), and though she suggests that she will proceed “by fayt of dyligence & witte / [rather] than by subtyltees of wordes polisshed” (A1), she cannot help becoming a rhetorician. As the prologue proceeds she invokes Minerva as her muse. The skill Minerva promises is exactly that of polishing: “aboue alle other wymen fondest & institutest emonge thother noble artes & sciences whiche of the toke their begynnyng thusage to forge of yron & steel / armours & harnois propice & couenable to couure & targe the body of man” (A1v). Further, Minerva not only allows de Pizan to elaborate her role as a rhetorician, she also facilitates de Pizan’s autobiography. The prologue concludes: Of whiche fyrst in the said renomed contree of grece thou gauest thusage / And in so moche it may plaise the to be to me faourable / that I may be somwhat consonaunt in the nacyon where thou was born whiche as thenne as named the grete grece / the contree beyond we alpes or montaygnes / whiche now is sayd puylle & calabre in ytalye where w u were born / & I am as w u were / a woman ytalien. (A2) In this final section of the invocation de Pizan shifts the register from simile to direct representation: “like” and “as” become “am” and “is.” What begins as a humility trope is transformed over the course of the prologue into a construction of autobiography. Thus the prologue not only operates according to the very terms of dullness (the poor fit between the performer and the task which characterizes the fifteenthcentury poet) and eloquence (the lexicon of “wordes polisshed” that Lerer aptly names a “vocabulary of impression”) which the Chaucerian poets deploy, it pursues these terms to the very results—the construction of a named identity in writing—that eluded English writers of the middle of the century. Minerva provides de Pizan, and she in turn provides the English fifteenth century, with a model for being dull and polished at the same time, one that maintains deference while nevertheless aggressively asserting an authorial identity. For readers of Chaucer and Lydgate such as Caxton the passage must have seemed simultaneously subtle and brazen. De Pizan’s prologue thus introduces a cluster of thematic interests one might not expect in a field guide to the martial arts: feminism, rheto-

u n i n h a b i t a b l e c h a u c e r 177

Kuskin Ch 4

11/15/07

9:32 AM

Page 178

ric, and authorial self-fashioning. The main part of the Fayts of Arms is more pragmatic. It relates instructions such as the proper age to train young people (B4), the benefits of swimming for the soldier (B6v), the proper dimensions of ditches (C3v), battle formations such as the “hors shoo” (E5), the technicalities of fealty ( book 3, chapters 5 and 6), “whether an english scoler or of som other enemyes lande were founde stydyeng atte the scoles in parys myght be taken prysoner or not” (O1v), the “manere of werre called marque” (P8r), the “champ of batill” (Q3), and so forth. Still, as in the prologue, de Pizan places these pragmatic issues of warfare in relation to literary production. She does this most dramatically in her juxtaposition of antique and contemporary examples. At times, such as in her reflections upon the abilities of English archers, these juxtapositions are simply relevant asides. In some cases, however, the inclusion of modern instances forces a historical problem. This occurs most clearly in her discussion of military technology, which, in book 2, chapter 20, she theorizes—amazingly—in terms of Scripture: ¶ Where the scrypture in bokes is a thynge perpetual as to the worlde / it semeth me goode to adde in thys oure sayde werke more partyculerly thoo thinges that be goode and propyce to assaylle Cytees Castelles and Townes after the manere and waye of the tyme present for to gyue therof a more Intellygyble exsample / And ryght so and semblably that in the thynges sayde and to be sayde we haue holpen us of the saynges of the boke of vegece and other Auctoures / We shal in thys helpe vs of the counseyll of the wyse knyghtes that be expert in the sayde thynges of armes. ( I3r–v) De Pizan’s point is that technology asserts a significant di±erence in the history of warfare, one demanding some accommodation from received authority. Caxton encountered a similar problem with his addition concerning the invention of the printing press to the Chronicles of England (STC 9991), but the problem suggests to de Pizan a larger, indeed a categorical, definition: books of Scripture are absolute in relation to history, but the sayings of the book of Vegetius and other authors of “the tyme present” are fundamentally temporal. What is important is that, for de Pizan, this temporality does not undermine their validity. Indeed, it actually seems to necessitate their inclusion as “intellygyble exsamples.”

178 a u t h o r s h i p a n d t h e c h a u c e r i a n i n h e r i t a n c e

Kuskin Ch 4

11/15/07

9:32 AM

Page 179

Thus, in the case of vernacular knowledge, exemplarity is based less on the claim to transhistorical truth (“a thynge perpetual”) than to the immediate authority. Rather than moving away from doctrinal truth as knowledge becomes vernacular, as in Chaucer’s General Prologue, de Pizan imagines a vernacular knowledge on par with doctrine. The section thus serves to introduce fourteen chapters on ordinance, and de Pizan goes on to detail the “gonnes and engyns / That is to wyte two grete engyns and the other mydelbare flyghynge garnysshed and redy of al thynges for to caste,” such as “Coyllardes,” “gonnes that [are] called Garyte . . . rose . . . Senecque . . . Maye . . . Mountfort . . . a brasyn gonne called Artycke . . . small gonnes castyng pillettes . . . [and] grete bombardes” ( I2v–I4v). In chapter 21 she lists the equipment necessary to furnish these weapons, “gonne pouldre . . . and of other stu±e” ( I4v); in 22, their coverings and hoists ( I4v); in 23, the wood necessary to portage them from their transport ships; in 24, the construction of “bastylles and bolwerkes” ( I5) to entrench the weapons; in 25, the crossbows necessary to defend these entrenchments; in 26 the “paueyses . . . fyre panes . . . other fyre pannes . . . touteauls or pitched ropes . . . axes . . . picoses . . . shouels . . . scowpes . . . bakpaners . . . lanterns . . . pinnes . . . barrelles full of nailes” ( I5v); and, in chapter 30, the “carpenters . . . and constables and vynteners . . . labourers . . . knyghtes and esquyers . . . helpers . . . folke . . . [and] rewlers [that] shal be there commytted for to rewel them / And they shal haue theyre owne cartes by them self” ( I6v–I7v) necessary for using artillery in siege warfare. Though she may defray some of this authority to a group of anonymous “wise knights,” the ultimate responsibility for the work is clearly her own. De Pizan’s logic is defined in the prologue: writing is like siege warfare, for the technologies both of artillery and of authorship involve the assertion of authority in the vernacular. “War could be made to pay,” writes K. B. McFarlane, and knights such as Tiptoft and Fastolf made themselves wealthy through the Hundred Years War. 34 Fastolf in particular plowed his capital back into interest-bearing loans, a minor commercial fleet, buildings, furniture, jewelry, and most of all, land.35 As much as Fastolf’s investments are in land, shipping, and plate, however, they are also in books and libraries. In this way, it was possible for men such as Woodville—a second son of a family with thirteen children—to emerge into power through the spectacle of literary, as well as military, economic, and political, performance. Gentleman

u n i n h a b i t a b l e c h a u c e r 179

Kuskin Ch 4

11/15/07

9:32 AM

Page 180

bureaucrats like Scrope and Worcester developed around these knights as a kind of managerial class, insulating themselves within guild monopolies and manorial positions.36 So, Scrope, Worcester, Free, and Caxton all constitute a literary axis for the larger military and economic apparatus run by the nobility. Their writing defines Fastolf, Tiptoft, and Woodville as landed and learned. But Woodville and Tiptoft, if not Fastolf, are also writers, and work hard to cultivate a connection with clerkly authority as well; Aristotle’s model as a “sovereign clerk” ratifies their authority as much as it does the gentlemen bureaucrats they employ. Thus, it is not enough to imagine a literary patronage according to a social hierarchy of giving and receiving because each party is interested in fostering an identification with the next. Thus Woodville is willing to let Caxton “apaire” his text and reverse the hierarchical relationship so that he can appear more dull, and hence more clerkly, more like Aristotle the “sovereign clerk.” Patronage is dynamic and mutually beneficial, a complex process of social production in which both client and patron formulate a shared authority. War can be made to pay. It paid for Fastolf in the formation of a literary identity, and it pays for de Pizan and the readers of the Fayts of Arms by constructing vernacular authority.

Patronage as Mass Production That women should prove a central venue for the appropriation of authority in England is a political fact of the last third of the fifteenth century. For example, in a final attempt to fold the Nevilles into the Yorkist party Edward proposed giving his eldest daughter, Elizabeth, to John Neville’s son, George. M. A. Hicks writes, By settling the crown on his daughter Edward was repudiating charges made in the summer against the legitimacy of himself and his children. The reference to rebellion and Edward’s desire to allay discord alluded to the summer rebellion and to Clarence’s alternative claim, which was explicitly rejected. The house of York had inherited the crown through the female line and so it would descend in future, to Edward’s daughter in preference to any collateral male relative. All these points were clarified and publicly confirmed by the great council. No doubts or ambiguities remained.37

180 a u t h o r s h i p a n d t h e c h a u c e r i a n i n h e r i t a n c e

Kuskin Ch 4

11/15/07

9:32 AM

Page 181

As it happened, the crown did move through Elizabeth, and this too can be attributed to female labor: Susan Powell points out that Lady Margaret Beaufort “masterminded the conspiracy to overthrow Richard III and bring Henry to the throne . . . she was responsible for the union of Lancaster and York through Henry’s marriage to Elizabeth of York.”38 These women owned books and were an active part of the literary culture. John Fisher, Lady Margaret’s confessor after 1498, reports that she was an avid collector, owning books “in grete nombre bothe in Englysshe & in Frensshe.”39 Her book buying spans a range of interests: liturgical, romance, and courtly books all find their place in her library. Among the last class are a copy of de Pizan’s L’Epitre d’Othéa that she inherited from Anne Vere; “a great volume of velom of the siege of Troye yn English,” which she left to her son; “a book of velomm of Gowere in Englishe,” for one Alice Parker, a women in her service; and “a book of velom of Canterbury tales in English,” left to another household servant, John St. John. Household records also report that she purchased a second paper copy of the Canterbury Tales in 1508.40 If we view book ownership as a static process of holding books, then this record is little more than ornamental; if we follow the arguments within Caxton’s editions, however, we can see that books are enmeshed in the social production of authority, and are therefore part of a larger reproduction network involving technology, commerce, and gender. Patronage brings together heterogeneous modes of production, and in doing so it blurs categories of producer and consumer so as to extend literary authority to each participant. Lady Margaret’s involvement in book buying overlaps production and consumption so tightly as to make them indistinguishable. Caxton reports that Lady Margaret requested him to print the 1490 Blanchardin and Eglantine (STC 3124), a book that he “had longe to fore solde to my sayd lady,” and recommends the book “for gentyl yonge ladyes and damoysellys.”41 Here her consumption of the book in manuscript fosters its production in print. Caxton also reports that with the queen, she commissioned the 1491 Fifteen Oes (STC 20195), and her household records show her purchase of quite a number of his imprints.42 Lady Margaret seems to have understood the press’s productive capacity early on, for as Powell points out, her household account books record large-scale transactions: for example, on November 20, 1503, “Item paid the same

u n i n h a b i t a b l e c h a u c e r 181

Kuskin Ch 4

11/15/07

9:32 AM

Page 182

tyme to Lenard of the vestry for byndyng of lxxvj bokys of Master John Gersons pryntyng at jd.ob [a penny halfpenny] the boke. Ixs iiijd.”; for December 27, 1503, “Item paid to the same [ Hugh Ashton, her receivergeneral] for cariage of a hundreth of printed bokes with other of my ladys stuf from London. xviijd.”; for June 2, 1505, “Item to Richard Pynson for c prynted bookes price xs”; and on June 20, 1505, the canceled entry “Item to Richard Pynson at Syon by Mr. Chaunceller [ Henry Hornby] for a c printed bookes. nihil.”43 Powell identifies these books as Thomas à Kempis’s Imitatio Christi, attributed to Jean Gerson, the first three books of which were translated from Latin into English by William Atkinson as Imytacyon and Folowynge the Blessed Lyfe of our Sauyour Cryste and printed by Pynson; the fourth book was translated by Lady Margaret herself. All four books were printed by Pynson (STC 23954.7).44 The payments seem to refer to a larger process of dissemination that included shipping the books from London to Lady’s Margaret’s palace at Colyweston in Northhamptonshire, specifically for distribution at the Bridgettine monastery at Syon, a double order that housed monks and nuns, and that also seems to have been a dispersal point for literature to the surrounding lay public.45 Margaret’s records demonstrate how patronage combines literary production (the translation, authorization, shipping, binding, and distribution of books) and consumption. Her particular involvement in the Imytacyon is part of a much larger program of vernacular religious production. Pynson also printed her translation of The Mirroure of Golde for the Synfulle Soule (1506, STC 6894.5), and she was directly involved in de Worde’s printing of John Fisher’s vernacular sermons, The Fruytfull Saynges of Dauyd (1508, STC 10902; 1509, STC 10903a) and his sermon on the death of Henry VII (1509, STC 10900), as well as a number of mystical works such as an edition of Walter Hylton’s Scale of Perfection and Epistle on the Mixed Life, which de Worde printed for her in 1494 and, again, part of which she translated (STC 14042), and his editions of the 1509 Lyf of Saynt Vrsula (STC 24541.3) and The Shyppe of Fooles (STC 3547). Caxton too produced overtly religious vernacular material, for example, Speculum vitae Christi 1484 (STC 3259), reprinted again in 1490 (STC 3260), then by de Worde in 1494 (STC 3261), and by Pynson in 1506 (STC 3263). Lady Margaret is a patron, but she is also a translator and, more generally, a distributor of books.

182 a u t h o r s h i p a n d t h e c h a u c e r i a n i n h e r i t a n c e

Kuskin Ch 4

11/15/07

9:32 AM

Page 183

This joint role of producer and consumer demonstrates how the strict categorical definitions of literary production can hinder our understanding of fifteenth-century literary figures. This is as true for our assessment of the culture as it is for the individuals who participated in that culture. For example, as fifteenth-century English poetic writing has been seen as a narrowing of Chaucer’s artistic range, so its vernacular spiritual productions have been understood as a retreat from fourteenthcentury theological investigations after Thomas Arundel’s Constitutions.46 Both Margaret and Caxton were also involved in printing and disseminating orthodox material. George D. Painter argues that Caxton printed a Sarum Horae (STC 15872) as a companion piece for the Fifteen Oes; Powell suggests that Lady Margaret was involved in Pynson’s 1493 edition of the o¤ce and proper of the Mass for the feast of the Holy Name (STC 15851); and Mary C. Erler, that de Worde’s first Horae in 1494 (STC 15875) was printed at her request.47 In 1505 and 1507 Lady Margaret had two breviaries printed, one for Hereford Use by de la Hughe (STC 15793), whom she ended up suing for one hundred shillings, and one for Salisbury Use by Pynson (STC 15806).48 Speculum vitae Christi is particularly illustrative of this case because, translated by Nicholas Love, it was submitted to and approved by Arundel for its vernacular response to the Lollard heresy. In this case, Caxton and Margaret appear of a piece with an orthodox fifteenth century, generally resistant to heterodox views. Though the market for books of hours was intense, it was overwhelmed by the market for vernacular religious material. Again, Erler provides some useful statistics: “During the last quarter of the fifteenth century when English printing began,” she writes, “printed vernacular religious texts outnumbered books of hours by almost 3 to 1.”49 Obviously, many of these book users could not read their books of hours; for instance, John Fisher writes that Lady Margaret herself did not read Latin (“ful often she complained that in her youthe she had not gyuen her to the vnderstondynge of latyn wherin she had a lytell perceyuynge”),50 but she still owned Latin books. Indeed, it is important to recognize that even overtly orthodox material can take on a heterodox function as it becomes a personalized object, even if it is not overtly so. For book ownership gives individuals a purchase on their spiritual lives, and books of hours make the liturgy a personal possession held in the secular world.51

u n i n h a b i t a b l e c h a u c e r 183

Kuskin Ch 4

11/15/07

9:32 AM

Page 184

Just so, judged by the terms of the beginning of the century, a number of Caxton’s publications appear heretical. For example, Caxton’s version of the Polychronicon (STC 13438) contains within it Trevisa’s Dialogue Between a Lord and a Clerk,52 in which a lord defends scriptural translation to his clerk: And yet for to make a sermone of holy wrytte al in latyn to men that can Englysshe and no laytn / it were a lewd dede / for they be neuer the wyser / ±or the latyn but it be told hem in Englysshe what it is to mene / ¶ And it maye not be. told in englysshe what the latyn is to mene without translacion out of latyn in to Englysshe / Thenne it nedeth to haue an englysshe translacion (i.3) Couched as a dialogue as it is, the scene imagines a relationship of patronage (perhaps fictionalizing its author, John of Trevisa, and his own Lord Berkeley), which it folds into a much larger argument for vernacular literary authority. In e±ect, the lord, by triumphing the project of such translation against the clerk, takes on the authority of both roles to become, almost by definition, a “sovereign clerk.” Arundel’s Constitutions of 1409 expressly forbade the translation of Scripture, yet here is a full blown-argument supporting such a project, and by the sixteenth century a number of other printers produced overtly heterodox material, for example, de Worde’s 1501 quarto featuring extracts from the Book of Margery Kempe, A Short Treatyse of Contemplacyon . . . taken out of the Boke of Margerie Kempe of Lynn (STC 14924). Many of these texts are greatly reduced from the original works, but by the same token they are also multiplied: that is, they put a range of previously censored ideas into circulation as commodities. Counting the titles of texts overlooks the expansion of volume in liturgical material available, the uses these books were put to, and the theological discussion contained in overtly secular books such as the Polychronicon. Though certain aesthetic and generic forms may be abandoned by the late fifteenth century, the larger cultural scene involves an opening outward with print: an expansion of vernacular culture that includes heterodox as well as orthodox material. We can view Lady Margaret’s engagement with book culture through a series of mutually exclusive oppositions: pious women’s reading opposed to Chaucerian courtly writing, noble patronage versus anony-

184 a u t h o r s h i p a n d t h e c h a u c e r i a n i n h e r i t a n c e

Kuskin Ch 4

11/15/07

9:32 AM

Page 185

mous marketing, timeless liturgical potboilers set against engaged political writings, Church power and vernacular transgression, and orthodox closure countering heterodox originality. This ossifies the dynamic nature of vernacular literary production, which, I argue, is better understood as reproductive and transformative. Certainly piety, propaganda, community, and a love of literature are intense parts of Lady Margaret’s relationship to books, but so too is literary authority, a common denominator linking her interest in printing and politics. Indeed, print and politics form a circuit that produces and reflects her authority. For example, Colyweston was the center of Lady Margaret’s court, which included Richmond and Beaufort estates in Lincolnshire, Devon, Somerset, and Northamptonshire, as well as separate grants for houses in Hertfordshire and London. Lady Margaret held these lands, in part, because of a grant of legal rights to a single woman, and further because, though Henry’s policy was to limit private retinues overall, she was specifically licensed to hold her own, ostensibly in the service of the state but clearly autonomous within its own jurisdiction: witness the house for hearing civil cases at Colyweston and the special prison.53 Lady Margaret exerted influence beyond these territorial holdings, issuing commands to the City of Coventry and apparently holding permanent residences at the bishop of Ely’s palace at Hatfield and at Croydon Palace, the manor of the archbishops of Canterbury. Just as her political authority works as an active extension of Henry’s, one that both supports him but also grants her autonomy (the very autonomy that helped get Henry into power in the first place), her involvement in books of piety underwrites her identity overall, giving her a tangible purchase on Church buildings. In a further similarity to Woodville, she used her finances to make these realms indistinguishable, paying for repairs on the buildings out of her own account. Lady Margaret’s example demonstrates the interwoven nature of forms of appropriation. A. S. G. Edwards and Carol M. Meale have argued that Lady Margaret’s connection to the London printers demonstrates “symbiotic relations” between printers and patrons, and they point out that all the printers Lady Margaret patroned after Caxton—Inghelbert de la Hughe of Rouen, Pynson, and de Worde—incorporate her portcullis gate into their printer’s marks; de Worde goes so far as to name himself the “printer vnto the moost excellent Pryncesse my lady the Kynges mother” in his 1508 and 1509 editions.54 Rather than some sort of glossy overlay

u n i n h a b i t a b l e c h a u c e r 185

Kuskin Ch 4

11/15/07

9:32 AM

Page 186

to pre-existing publication strategies, Lady Margaret’s publications describe literary innovation, not as original composition but as strategic reproduction, the dissemination of texts once censored from vernacular culture refitted through translation and reissued as within Margaret’s authority. “It is good to compose and make bookis”; as with the Chaucerian tradition, this production process is based in a reproduction sequence in which established authority is paradoxically reduced—appropriated and emphasized—and then multiplied outward. To return to the Chaucerian inheritance more directly, then, what I am arguing is that late fifteenth-century courtly literary production works through a material and intellectual reproduction sequence premised on the consolidation and appropriation of authority. As with the intertwined nature of manuscript production in which a single manuscript can be finished product and component part in the bibliographic history of another text, the patterning of this sequence parallels the construction of persona for both readers and writers so closely that the categories become blurred. This implies that, with the exception of a select group of canonical authors (Chaucer, Gower, Hoccleve, Lydgate, and, as we shall see, Skelton, for the early Tudor period), the distinction among translator, literary historian, author, patron, and printer was somewhat thin because all engaged the same intellectual mechanism of consolidation and appropriation of authority. Feminism and antifeminism play into this constellation of issues because they ask about access to literary authority: in a culture in which literary production is constituted by literary consumption, the question, can women read? is the same as, can they write? By extension, in a literary culture in which canonical examples routinely devote large passages to justifying their vernacular e±orts in the face of a virtual clerical monopoly on exegesis, the twin questions are not far from a third: can anyone write in the vernacular with authority at all? De Pizan is clear about this constellation of issues and, returning to the Fayts of Arms for a moment, we find that she addresses it in the transition between her two main sources, Vegetius and Bonet, in the beginning of book 3. Here she presents herself in bed recuperating from her literary labor and passively waiting to enter into labor again: “As I dyde awayte for to entre in to the thirde partye of this present boke / & that my wyt / as almost wery of the peasunt weyght of the labour concernyng the two other partyes precedent / & as surprysed with slepe lyenge vpon

186 a u t h o r s h i p a n d t h e c h a u c e r i a n i n h e r i t a n c e

Kuskin Ch 4

11/15/07

9:32 AM

Page 187

my bed appeired byfore me the semblaunce of a creature hauyng the fourme of a stately man of habyte of chere & of maynten / & lyke to awyse & ryght auctorised iuge” (L4v). Her labor is extreme and physical. Unlike smithing or spinning, it seems almost beyond her conscious control, like childbirth. The image invites the reader to recall her gender, and with this Bonet comes to her and tells her, “¶ It is good that thou take and gadre of the tree of bataylles that is in my gardyn somme fruytes of whiche thou shalt vse / So shall vygoure and strengthe the bettre growe wythyn thy self therfore for to make an ende of thy pesaunte worke” (L4v). Her work grows within her, he remarks, introducing a metaphor in which his book is likened to a garden. The image of de Pizan in the garden, picking the fruits of Bonet’s knowledge is implicitly allegorical, and so she asks about moral censure: “I pray the to telle me yf eny rebuke shal mowe be caste to the regarde of my werke for this that thou hast counseylled me for to vse of the sayde fruyte” (L5). Her question is about how she is to reproduce Bonet’s book, but more broadly it is figurally about the role of female labor in relation to production of knowledge. Bonet replies: “Dere love to thys I ansuere the / that the more that a werke is wytnessed and approved of more folke / the more it is auctorysed and more auctentyke.” Here authority is produced through a social circuit in which the reader’s consumption of a text produces its authority. This circuit is premised upon the social use of books: Bonet continues, “Therfore yf eny doo murmure after the gyse of euyll spekers sayieng that thou beggest in other places I ansuere them that it is a comon vse emonge my dyscyples to gyue and departe one to other of the floures that they take dyuersely out of my gardyns.” Bonet underscores that this passing of flowers from one person to the next is simultaneously a process of consolidation and appropriation: “And al thoo that help hem self with all they were not the fyrst that haue gadred them.” Originality is the wrong measure by which to judge such a literary culture, and as proof, de Pizan has Bonet o±er up no less canonical an example than Jean de Muen himself: “Dyde not mayster John de Mowen help hym self with in hys boke of the rose of the sayinges of Lorrys / and semblably of other / It is thenne noo rebuke / but it is lawde & praysynge whan wel & proprely they be applycked and sette by ordre / and there lyeth the maystrye therof ” (L5). In justifying her reproduction of the work through Jean de Meun’s elaboration of Guillaume de Lorris, de Pizan

u n i n h a b i t a b l e c h a u c e r 187

Kuskin Ch 4

11/15/07

9:32 AM

Page 188

e±ectively underwrites her authority through the very author she used that authority against in the Querelle du Roman de la Rose. De Pizan likens writing to warfare, and here the point is clear: the Querelle’s public, almost legalist nature highlights the way writing is combative. Whether she has read Socrates’ sayings in the Dictes or not, she knows the genre well enough, and here she puts a defense of women’s writing in Bonet’s mouth. Broadly, his argument returns us to Woodville’s translation of de Pizan’s Morale Prouerbes by describing her as achieving “maystrye.” He describes a circuit of production and consumption, consolidation and appropriation that is also a circuit of patronage. Taken out of the original context and read in the late English fifteenth century, it fits in among the culture of appropriation, matching Little John’s gatherings from the masculine gardens of his “faders auncyente” with a similar, perhaps even more definitive, mode of female reproduction. The English interest in de Pizan is part of a larger interest in and demand for discussions of female authority. Chartier’s Belle Dame sans Merci, the Morale Prouerbes, the Fayts of Arms, the Dictes—all take part in a querelle des femmes: the Belle Dame inspired an exchange in Charles VII’s court, the Morale Prouerbes and the Dictes stage one between themselves, the Fayts obliquely references de Pizan’s earlier exchange with Jean de Meun.55 “Myn Hert ys Set” contains this same theme in its condemnation of Lydgate’s antifeminist writing. Chaucer too used antifeminism to stage questions about authority and interpretation, and returning to the Dictes and Sayings we can see how Caxton merges Woodville’s translation with Chaucer’s own ways of suggesting a gendered readership. For in his epilogue he writes: Wherfore in satisfyeng of all parties & also for excuse of the saide socrates I haue sette these saide dyctes and sayengis a parte in thende of this book / to thentente that yf my sayd lord or ony other persone what someuer he or she be that shal rede or here it / that If they be not wel plesyd wyth all that they wyth a penne race it out or ellys rente the leef out of the booke. (unsigned, 76r–v) Caxton reorders the book to highlight Socrates’ sayings, but in doing so he also provides the reader a way of manipulating it. “Caxton is at his most Chaucerian here,” writes Jennifer R. Goodman. “He is inviting us,

188 a u t h o r s h i p a n d t h e c h a u c e r i a n i n h e r i t a n c e

Kuskin Ch 4

11/15/07

9:32 AM

Page 189

or Anthony Woodville, to become the Wife of Bath. Having provided his own ‘book of wicked wives,’ he can expect no less.” 56 This is, too, Caxton’s strategy as a writer: Caxton continually defines himself as a reader who writes: we see this when he evokes his chamber for his readers, we see it when he takes on the subservient position in relationship to Margaret of York, and we see it in the very way he “apires” Socrates’ sayings. If de Pizan demonstrates the centrality of Chaucerian rhetoric and provides the English Courtier with a purchase on that rhetoric for his own writing, Caxton’s prologue to the Dictes follows this out by providing a model for reading. Chaucerian literary history has been told as a passage from fathers to sons; I suggest that this simplifies a complex situation. Like monarchical authority, the Chaucerian inheritance moves through female lines. William de la Pole’s wife, Alice Chaucer, serves as a worthwhile final example. Alice lived until 1475, owned more than twenty books, and was concerned about them enough to write William, the “Cok of Bylton,” about their safekeeping: “William Bylton,” she writes, “I grete you wele. And pray you / my good William yef my books be in myther closette // by grounde, wat ye woll put them in some other place. for taking of harme. And God kepe you. Writin // in my Inne the xxiiij day of Ianyver. Alice.”57 Alice’s collection included “a frensh boke of le Citee de dames couered with rede lethere clased with latoun newe,” and “a frensh boke of the tales of philisphers couerd in black damask bosed and clapsed with siluer and gilt.” As these manuscripts are no longer extant, there is no way of knowing if Alice appreciated the juxtaposition of de Pizan’s argument in “le Citee de dames” and Socrates’ misogyny in her copy of “tales of philisphers.” One would think, though, that someone so worried about her books as to write from afar that they be lifted o± the ground, valued them as symbolic objects, elegant possessions that contained meaning within them. Women consumed books in a number of ways: they purchased and collected them, they read them and were read to from them, they wrote in them. These forms of consumption constitute the production of literary culture in ways that we can itemize: women produced literary culture through specific acts of patronage and purchase, such as Alice Chaucer’s patronage of Lydgate and Margaret of York’s patronage of Caxton; they invested in institutions, such as Lady Margaret’s involvement in the libraries at Syon and Cambridge; they also formed a market.

u n i n h a b i t a b l e c h a u c e r 189

Kuskin Ch 4

11/15/07

9:32 AM

Page 190

Margaret Beaufort’s vellum manuscripts and Alice Chaucer’s editions clasped in their special bindings signify these women’s financial participation in this market.

The literary productions of

the late fifteenth century have largely been overlooked. Scholarship on the first half of the fifteenth century has begun to recognize that that period’s understanding of Chaucer’s legacy is tied in with the political relations dominating the Lancastrian court, yet little attention has been given to the ways this legacy was worked out at the end of the century. I suggest a Yorkist literary culture of rivalry, one that enacts a very Chaucerian sense of courtly manipulation, one embodied by Chaucer’s Pandarus in Troilus and Criseyde, but finding Chaucer’s role uninhabitable, also developed authorial roles of its own, such as the courtier-clerk, the female author, and the pious reader. Thus, late fifteenth-century writing internalized fourteenth-century terms to constitute a sense of vernacular production that combined courtly writing with spiritual material and that distinguished manuscript from print forms of literature. Viewed as such, we can see that the forms of capital in the fifteenth century are not simply limited to a middle or merchant class. Rather, the nobility engaged in (and profited from) the speculative manipulation of capital in its production of identity. If this involved the nobility in authorship, it no less involved it in commerce.

190 a u t h o r s h i p a n d t h e c h a u c e r i a n i n h e r i t a n c e

Kuskin Ch 4

11/15/07

9:33 AM

Page 191

PA R T I I I

PRINT AND SOCIAL O R G A N I Z AT I O N

Kuskin Ch 4

11/15/07

9:33 AM

Page 192

Kuskin Ch 5

11/15/07

9:33 AM

Page 193

Chapter Five

Caxton’s Worthies Series Fifteenth-Century Imagined Communities

The common wisdom on Caxton’s prose romances is that they are intellectually derivative. Indeed, most scholars argue that Caxton simply reproduces texts he encountered in Burgundian libraries for a curious English bourgeoisie.1 Yet Caxton remains central to our understanding of the fifteenth century precisely because its literary culture is notoriously di¤cult to define, and as I argued in chapter 3, even the extent to which the non-noble community imagined itself with the coherency implied by the term bourgeoisie is far from clear.2 Caxton is useful to us because he gives shape to an English literary culture otherwise vaguely understood, and, I suggest, his romances provided a similar service to his original readers. In reproducing a selection of works as texts within a broader critical program, Caxton articulates canon, authority, and audience as cogent and interrelated concerns, thereby producing a comprehensive intellectual framework for the physical products rolling o± his presses. Caxton’s interest in romance is part of his production process, and should be viewed as a sign not of intellectual simplicity but of the ideological complexity involved in unifying English identity.3 To see this complexity at work, we need to understand Caxton’s critical program as synthetic. That Caxton frequently discusses the mechanics of printing in his writing is widely recognized; that he also uses his prologues and epilogues to map a series of bibliographical, thematic, and political connections among his texts is less so. For not only his

193

Kuskin Ch 5

11/15/07

9:33 AM

Page 194

Chaucerian texts are grouped in series: in his 1477 prologue to the History of Jason (STC 15383), Caxton refers his readers to his earlier Recuyell of the Histories of Troye (STC 15375) on the grounds that both stem from the Burgundian court; as I discussed in chapter 4, his epilogue to the 1479 Cordyal (STC 5758) emphasizes his printing of Anthony Woodville’s translations; his Fayts of Arms (STC 7269) names John de Vere, for whom he also translated the 1490 Foure Sonnes of Aymon (STC 1007) and an apparently lost Robert Erle of Oxeforde; he links his 1482 Polychronicon (STC 13438) and 1484 Golden Legend (STC 24873–74) as “noble historyes”; and he groups his 1481 Godfrey of Boloyne (STC 13175), 1485 Le Morte D’Arthur (STC 801) and 1485 Charles the Grete (STC 5013) around the conceit of the Nine Worthies. Illustrating a critical program capable of presenting various works as unified around common themes, these series are essential to our reading of Caxton’s production techniques, and I o±er the last, the Worthies Series, as a test case demonstrating how these techniques imagine community.4 As a structural device, the Nine Worthies allows Caxton to reach an expanded body of readers. Yet the importance of the Worthies Series is more profound than a notion of marketing allows, for rather than just appealing to this audience, Caxton’s editions actively produce it as fractured but nevertheless coherent, unified in a history of common behavior. This occurs, in part, through Caxton’s cogent political program, and in part through the romance genre’s implicit imagination of social relations. The interaction between explicit and implicit messages is layered: Caxton uses the Nine Worthies to call for a fifteenth-century crusade while printing indulgences for just such an excursion. These indulgences produce the very capital that underwrites more long-term literary projects such as Le Morte D’Arthur; just so, the romances’ questing narratives of violence and xenophobia suggest a rationale for contributing.5 Romance fiction and crusade propaganda work together, and thus I argue that Caxton’s critical program should not be understood simply as a marketing strategy so much as an imaginative system connecting material things—bodies, books, cash, and weapons—with intangible qualities—identity, desire, hatred—within the larger political economy. Caxton’s print program is ideological, therefore, because it promotes a material program of texts that allows its readers to participate in a larger imaginative structure, which is implied but never fully articulated, never so rigid that each indi-

194 p r i n t a n d s o c i a l o r g a n i z at i o n

Kuskin Ch 5

11/15/07

9:33 AM

Page 195

vidual reader cannot interpret it to find his or her own place in the larger whole. Caxton’s critical program shapes the cultural imagination: transcending marketing and propaganda, it is productive of an ideology for English nationalism.6 That in 1486, the year after Caxton published the Worthies Series, the three competing printing houses in England—the St. Albans Schoolmaster printer, William de Machlinia, and Theodoric Rood—vanished, suggests the power of his strategy.7 Taken in the abstract, this argues that his model is the exception to the rule, his agenda unique among fifteenthcentury printers and uncharacteristic of the culture at large. Thus in his influential history of nationalism, Imagined Communities, Benedict Anderson observes that though the development of nationalism is fundamentally tied to what he terms print-capitalism, “nothing suggests that any deep-seated ideological, let alone proto-national, impulses underlay this vernacularization where it occurred” before the sixteenth century.8 The view fits nicely with, and no doubt derives from, the sense in literary studies that the fifteenth century is backward looking, derivative in its taste, doctrinal in its interpretive strategies, and hierarchical in its political organization. I argue that fifteenth-century printers were well aware of the powerful linkage between print and vernacular identity and that, more specifically, Caxton and his competition appreciated almost immediately the utility of the press for disseminating political documents: one of Caxton’s first publications in England, the 1476 Propositio (STC 21458), is a tract disseminating John Russell’s Latin oration on Charles the Bold’s admittance to the Order of the Garter. In 1481 John Lettou and William de Machlinia printed an abridged lawbook, the Abbreuiamentum statutorum (STC 9513) with an alphabetical index, which they followed in 1482 with Sir Thomas Littleton’s student primer for land law, Tenures (STC 15719). They also produced a series of lawbooks at this time, printing yearbooks for Henry VI 35, 36, and 38 (STC 9742, 9749, and 9731). By 1483 de Machlinia, working alone, printed The Promisse of Matrimonie (STC 9176), an English propaganda piece regarding Elizabeth of York, and in 1484 he printed the yearbook for Henry VI 34 (STC 9737), and the statutes for Richard III’s Parliament (STC 9347). E. Gordon Du± records undated yearbooks for Henry VI 37. In 1485 de Machlinia printed the Noua statuta (STC 9264) and in 1486, Innocent VIII’s papal dispensation granting Henry VII’s marriage to Elizabeth of York (STC 14096). Like

c a x t o n ’ s wo rt h i e s s e r i e s 195

Kuskin Ch 5

11/15/07

9:33 AM

Page 196

Caxton, Lettou and de Machlinia printed indulgences along with a crusade text, poet laureate John Kay’s Siege of Rhodes (STC 4594). Caxton begins to experiment in political material immediately upon returning to England, and both he and de Machlinia promote propagandistic, bureaucratic, and literary texts during the Yorkist period; the observation that print is ideological is not unique to Caxton. If printing presses other than Caxton’s failed during this period, this should suggest neither their irrelevance to the development of print nor the absolutely unique nature of Caxton’s fundamental insight, but the di¤culty of the task overall.

The Structure of Spontaneity The Worthies Series begins with Caxton’s lengthy review of the Nine Worthies in the prologue to Godfrey and ends with a short list of his three printed editions in the prologue to Charles the Grete. Standing between these two texts, Caxton’s prologue to Le Morte D’Arthur contains something of both: on the one hand it discusses the Nine Worthies; on the other it builds towards Charles’s list of texts by mentioning Caxton’s previous publication of Godfrey. At the same time, the prologue presents Caxton’s anecdote of “many noble and dyuers gentylmen,” interrupting the steady development of his program by formulating his readers’ demand for an Arthurian work as a direct critique of his printing agenda: The sayd noble ientylmen instantly requyred me temprynte thystorye of the sayd noble kyng and conquerour kyng Arthur / and of his knyghtes wyth thystorye of the Saynt greal / and of the deth and endyng of the sayd Arthur / A±ermyng that I ougt rather tenprynte his actes and noble feates / than of godefroye of boloyne or ony of the other eyght (2r–v)9 However ill defined, Caxton’s label of a group of “noble ientylmen” already suggests a more cohesive group than the “dyuerce men ben of dyuerce desyers” of the epilogue to book 2 of the Recuyell. The “noble ientylmen[’s]” critique is that in printing Godfrey before Arthur, Caxton has wrongfully neglected a national hero. Claiming that Caxton’s readers are mutually concerned with English identity, it also emphasizes the

196 p r i n t a n d s o c i a l o r g a n i z at i o n

Kuskin Ch 5

11/15/07

9:33 AM

Page 197

unity possible in the role of audience. By the same token, Caxton’s use of “noble” unifies this group across class by flatteringly joining his “dyuers gentylmen” readers with the nobility—with Arthur himself—while still insisting on the term’s privilege. Yet Le Morte D’Arthur is no casual production: the third largest of all Caxton’s texts ( led only by the Polychronicon and the Golden Legend), it represents a significant investment of time and money on Caxton’s part, one reflected in his emphasis on Arthur in his earlier production of Godfrey. In phrasing the critique as a unified reaction to his previous publication of Godfrey, Caxton seems to juxtapose two modes of production: if the prologue is evidence of a critical program spanning some five years, it also suggests that Caxton is driven by his audience’s spontaneous demands. The Nine Worthies contains this juxtaposition as well: a popular trope used in examples ranging from courtly poetry to playing cards to public pageants, it describes royal authority as a governmental structure underwritten by the spontaneous participation of a broad section of English society. Caxton reproduces this relationship in terms of textual production to recognize that structure and spontaneity are, in fact, parts of one another. By incorporating this quality of English culture into his critical program, Caxton presents his selection of works to his audience in terms they implicitly understand. The Nine Worthies are three pagan kings, Hector, Alexander, and Caesar; three Jewish heroes, Joshua, David, and Judas Maccabaeus; and three Christian kings, Arthur, Charles, and Godfrey of Bouillon. This structure of three sets of three first appears in Jacques Longuyon’s Les Voeux du Paon (ca. 1310 –12), where he inserts it into Alexander’s battle with King Clarus, and with some exceptions it remains the standard depiction of the Worthies into the sixteenth century.10 Where Caxton first encountered the motif is unknown; the works he promotes through it, however, reflect the literary culture of the Burgundian court, and as Diane Bornstein points out, versions of the Livre d’Eracles (the French source for Caxton’s Godfrey), Fierabras (the source for part 2 of Charles the Grete), and the Arthurian romances could all be found in the libraries of Philip the Good and Louis de Bruges while Caxton was in Burgundy. Derek Pearsall further argues that the style of Caxton’s romances stems from the Burgundian court as well: “In Burgundy it was the age of the recueil, and the aim was to give the whole history of, say, Charlemagne or Guillaume d’Orange by assembling the scattered materials of the court

c a x t o n ’ s wo rt h i e s s e r i e s 197

Kuskin Ch 5

11/15/07

9:33 AM

Page 198

and rewriting them in the fashionable prose of the age.”11 Given these observations, what is unique to Caxton is not so much his selection of works as his use of the Nine Worthies as a structural device for importing this Burgundian aesthetic into English culture. Modern critics have read the Worthies’ structure as implying a negative exemplum collection, one that, like the Monk’s Tale, reduces historical di±erence to broad categorical divisions repeating the tragic consequences of Fortune’s instability.12 This reading neglects the trope’s structural flexibility. In Gower’s Mirour de l’Omme, the alliterative Morte Arthure, and Lydgate’s “Timor Mortis Conturbat Me,” for instance, the Worthies do collectively illustrate history as tragedy. Often, though, their exemplary meanings change with the categories of pagan, Jew, and Christian, so that the pagan Worthies tell of bad fortune—“Lo, ho may trust fortune any throwe” underscores Caesar in the poem in Harley 2259—while the Jewish and Christian Worthies are positive examples.13 Conversely, the categorical identities may bear no relation to their exemplary status, as in Les Voeux du Paon itself, where Hector and Alexander fall but Caesar does not. Rather than insisting upon a unified meaning for history, an overall sententia, the Worthies’ structure is capable of presenting separate readings of history. This is obviously useful to Caxton because it allows him to link his selection of particular works without necessarily demanding that they come to the same interpretive conclusions. More importantly, it suggests a certain looseness in the Worthies’ capacity to arrange narrative material. Used in works as disparate as Gower’s “In Praise of Peace” and the Scots “Ballet of the Nine Nobles,” this quality allows them to cross genre distinctions. That the Worthies appear in paintings, statues, woodblocks, murals, tapestries, playing cards, mummings, and pageants suggests their structure grants them a certain freedom from formal requirements as well.14 Even the number of nine kings is at times altered through the addition and subtraction of various historical figures.15 Paradoxically, then, the Worthies’ rigidity creates a corresponding flexibility, one capable of moving the same narrative material from one medium to the next: T. F. S. Turville-Petre argues that the poem in MS 2 Tennyson D’Eyncourt K /1 that appears beneath a genealogical tree of English kings began as lines in a pageant script; similarly, R. S. Loomis suggests that the first-person stanzas in two woodcuts and a set of sixteenth-century tapestries were originally composed for recita-

198 p r i n t a n d s o c i a l o r g a n i z at i o n

Kuskin Ch 5

11/15/07

9:33 AM

Page 199

tion in pageants.16 The Worthies’ structure is able, therefore, to pass its narrative component—the stanzaic speeches of the individual heroes— from pageant to poem, woodcut, and tapestry precisely because narrative depth is its least concern. Rather than describing Fortune, what the Worthies seem most concerned with is presenting the spectacle of royal authority to as broad an audience as possible. Given the Worthies’ relationship to spectacle, it should not surprise us to find pageantry as the common denominator among their various appearances. The Coventry corporation’s use of the Nine Worthies to greet Queen Margaret serves as a useful example:17 on August 28, 1456, the mayor of Coventry, Richard Braytoft, ordered the collection of 100 marks for gifts to Queen Margaret and Prince Edward. Fifty of these were given to the queen on September14; the rest were returned to the collectors to be held for the prince. The queen’s visit was fairly elaborately prepared for, with an additional £10 10s. 1d. spent on special presentation cups, £8 4d. on wine, 20s. on gratuities to “diuerse persones of the kynges house,” and 2s. “for a glasse of Rose water that my lord Ryvers had.” Braytoft also commissioned John Wedurby of Leicester “for we provicion and makyng on these premisses of the welcomyng of oure Souerayn lady the quene & for his labour Inne & out” at the cost of 25s. The preparations included a tree of Jesse over the gate at Bablake where Isaiah and Jeremiah appeared, a pageant at the gate at the east end of the church portraying Saints Edward and John the Evangelist, another at “the Cundit yn the Smythforde strete” containing the four cardinal virtues, and “at the Crosse yn the Croschepyng, there were ordeyned diuerse angels sensyng a-high on the Crosse, & there ranne out wyne at mony places a long whyle.” The event concluded with St. Margaret’s slaying of the dragon, but just before that, “betwix the seyde Crosse & the Cundit benewe that, were sette ix Pagentes right well arayed & yn euery Pagent was shewed a speche of the ix Conqueroures.” In explicit contrast to the other figures, who prophesied good fortune for the noble personages, each Worthy swore an oath of loyalty to the queen. Evoking, partaking in, and ultimately deferring to monarchical authority, the Worthies articulate the very relationship the Coventry corporation enacts by paying its tribute. That is, they organize the social body by visibly locating authority in the royal figure, while simultaneously demonstrating that this authority is constructed through the participation of the entire

c a x t o n ’ s wo rt h i e s s e r i e s 199

Kuskin Ch 5

11/15/07

9:33 AM

Page 200

community. Thus, the Worthies not only reinforce royal authority by making it tangible, they also evidence and di±erentiate the various members of the community who make that authority possible.18 In “Political Society and the Growth of Government in Late Medieval England,” G. L. Harriss characterizes this participatory quality as indicative of larger political systems between central and local authorities. I quote Harriss at length to capture his sense of the kind and number of regional agents involved in English polity in the late fifteenth century: Free society had evolved into an elaborately structured élite of earls, barons, knights, esquires and gentlemen, with yeomen and husbandmen below. All ranks of this society came to be involved in the activity of governing. The country gentry monopolized the shire offices as sheri±s, parliamentary representatives, J.P.s, escheators and commissioners of many kinds, while parish gentry served as coroners, hundred baili±s, tax collectors and purveyors, with husbandmen performing duties as constables and jurymen which brought social recognition and were stepping-stones to gentry status. If we add to this landed society the gentlemen bureaucrats who serviced it with legal and administrative skills—local attorneys, solicitors and pleaders, land agents, stewards, baili±s and household o¤cers—and if we further add the richer clergy and their o¤cials, and the urban merchants and substantial citizens, and even, in the capital, the small but influential group of royal bureaucrats and lawyers, we have an élite of greatly diversified interests and skills, many of whom were professionally articulate. This was the political society which had to be governed, and these men were themselves the channels along which government had to flow.19 Harriss’s argument here can be distilled to two interrelated points: authority and organization. Instead of imagining central government as extending an absolute authority through a rigid social hierarchy, Harriss argues that “all ranks of this society came to be involved in the activity of governing,” not simply due to civic obligation or unwavering loyalty to their patron but because of self-interest. Just as the landed classes execute royal authority in the process of fulfilling their own “greatly diversified interests,” the hierarchically lower levels use their franchise on authority

200 p r i n t a n d s o c i a l o r g a n i z at i o n

Kuskin Ch 5

11/15/07

9:33 AM

Page 201

to advance themselves in turn. This suggests that if political authority is premised on hierarchy, it is equally dependent upon a friction within this hierarchy as each layer’s participation in authority appropriates it for its own uses. When Harriss concludes, “This was the political society which had to be governed, and these men were themselves the channels along which government had to flow,” he points out that such participation actively constitutes “men” as “channels” within a structure of authority, or to put it more overtly, that individuals only take on subject positions as they are traversed by authority. Harriss’s emphasis on participation and appropriation presents fifteenth-century community as organized less according to static social distinctions, such as the bourgeoisie, than to a latticework of temporary positions defined by the individual subject’s immediate relation to authority. As much as the sheri±s, J.P.s, tax collectors, and bureaucrats Harriss mentions inherit their authority from a central body, they are also “channels” in more self-contained local administrative systems. Their authority is thus dependent upon the monarch and also—when in its own locality—independent, capable of conducting business without communicating back to the center. If royal authority is enacted through friction, it is also dependent on a communication network that, to a certain degree, excludes it. Rather than a hierarchical arrangement, or even a circuit of radial connections to and from the center, fifteenth-century polity is organized according to a complex shape in which partially independent spheres are arranged about a centralized hierarchy but are not continually linked to it. Central authority allowing its own appropriation in exchange for active participation, local authority constantly asserting its power irrespective of the center, the structure of English polity does not seem to exclude spontaneous action so much as to provide a framework for continual consolidation and appropriation. One of the few contemporary historical records from the Wars of the Roses, the Historie of the Arrivall of Edward IV in England, illustrates how this sequence produces individuals as political subjects. Written only days after the events it narrates, the Arrivall tells of Edward’s return to England in 1471. Rebu±ed from an initial landing in Norfolk and scattered by storm, Edward, Gloucester, Woodville, and “the resydewe that were comen in his shipe” collected on the north side of the mouth of the Humber in Yorkshire at Ravenspur, on March 14:

c a x t o n ’ s wo rt h i e s s e r i e s 201

Kuskin Ch 5

11/15/07

9:33 AM

Page 202

As to the folks of the countrye there came but right few to hym, or almost none, for, by the scuringe of suche persons as for that cawse were, by his said rebells, sent afore into thos partes for to move them to be agains his highnes, the people were sore endwsed to be contrary to hym, and not to receyve, ne accepe hym, as for theyr Kynge; natwithstondynge, for the love and favour that before they had borne to the prince of fulnoble memorye, his father, Duke of Yorke, the people bare hym right great favowr to be also Duke of Yorke, and to have that of right apartayned unto hym, by the right of the sayde noble prince his fathar.20 Warwick is able to hamper Edward’s landing through the “scuringe of suche persons as for that cawse were”—by extending his influence through local “channels” of communication. Insofar as Warwick’s power is franchised from the king, this extension represents an appropriation of royal authority put to independent uses; insofar as it is based on Warwick’s own position as a magnate, it represents an autonomous power operating in a communication network outside the structure of monarchical authority. In turn, Warwick’s presence in Yorkshire sets up a chain of participations and appropriations on the part of the “persons” and the “folks of the countrye” he involves. As “persons” and “folks,” these groups are tremendously ill defined, but by participating in Warwick’s “cawse” they become unified as “the people.” With this change in status they are able to act with enough coherence to subvert Edward’s authority; in participating in Warwick’s authority, however, they also appropriate it toward their own ends: this is demonstrated by their ability to interpret historical precedent independently, to argue that Edward should proceed as “Duke of Yorke,” though not as king. If they were completely under Warwick’s control, their interpretation would be constrained to his purposes; that they interpret Edward’s lineage based on their loyalty to his father demonstrates a subversion of Warwick’s authority, one that spontaneously and crucially reinstalls Edward in a more mediated position. Thus, Warwick’s and Edward’s interest in the Yorkshire populace creates them as a political body—what P. R. Coss terms an “additional plane of authority”—intertwined with, and also independent from the nobility.21 In using the Nine Worthies as a structural device, then, Caxton’s critical program draws on the way medieval polity constitutes authority

202 p r i n t a n d s o c i a l o r g a n i z at i o n

Kuskin Ch 5

11/15/07

9:33 AM

Page 203

through a sequence of consolidation and appropriation involving a broad section of the literate population. In the Arrivall and in the prologue to Le Morte D’Arthur this sequence is marked or signaled by the seemingly spontaneous production of an original interpretation: just as the Arrivall ’s “people” are able to interpret Edward’s authority through participating in and appropriating Warwick’s, Caxton’s “dyuers gentylmen” gain their interpretive voice within his project through participating in— buying, reading, and commenting upon—his texts. We can see this in the plot of Le Morte D’Arthur as well. Book 21, chapter 1 of Le Morte D’Arthur—the chapter Caxton titles “How Syr Mordred presumed & toke on hym to be kyng of englond / & wold haue maryed the quene his faders wyf ” (3p2v )—narrates Arthur’s return to England from his unsuccessful siege on Lancelot in terms remarkably similar to the Arrivall’s discussion of Edward’s landing at Ravenspur: Than came worde to syr Mordred that kyng Arthur had araysed the syege / For Syr Launcelot & he was comyng homeward wyth a grete hoost to be auenged vpon syr Mordred wherfore syr Modred maad wryte wryttes to al the barowny of thys londe and moche peple drewe to hym For than was the comyn voys emonge them that wyth Arthur was none other lyf but warre and stry±e / And wyth Syr Mordred was grete ioye and blysse / Thus was syr Arthur depraued and euyl sayd of . And many ther were that kyng Arthur had made vp of nought and gyuen them landes myght not than say hym a good worde. (dd3v ) In both texts, the standing monarch’s landing is frustrated by the nobility’s control over the local “channels” of government: where Warwick operates “by the scuringe of suche persons,” Mordred “maad wryte wryttes to al the barowny”; where the people “were sore endwsed to be contrary to” Edward, here the “comyn voys” rises up against Arthur; where the Arrivall’s narrator insists this is “natwithstondynge, for the love and favour that before they had borne to the prince of fulnoble memorye,” Malory points out a similar contradiction: “many ther were that kyng Arthur had made vp of nought and gyuen them landes myght not than say hym a good worde.” Further, both texts discuss the populace’s independence from royal authority through their ability to interpret

c a x t o n ’ s wo rt h i e s s e r i e s 203

Kuskin Ch 5

11/15/07

9:33 AM

Page 204

recent history on their own terms. Further still, both authors use this interpretation as grounds for a second: in the Arrivall this is to brand the Yorkshiremen “rebells”; in Malory it is a broader claim to precedent: “Lo ye al englissh men see ye not what a myschyef here was / for he that was the moost kyng and knyght of the world and moost loued the felyshyp of noble knyghtes / and by hym they were al vpholden / Now myght not this englyssh men holde them contente wyth hym” (dd3v). Malory locates political instability in the movement from a unified nobility—a “felyshyp of noble knyghtes”—to a generalized “englyssh men,” arguing that the subversion of class-based social definitions toward more open-ended and temporary groupings is a move away from Arthur’s historical precedent of stability. Yet immediately after insisting Arthurian history o±ers a precedent for stability, Malory finds within it a precedent for instability as well: “Loo,” he writes, “thus was the olde custome and vsage of this londe / And also men saye that we of thys londe haue not yet loste ne foryeten that custome & vsage / Alas thys is a grete defaulte of vs englysshe men / For there may nothynge plese vs noo terme” (dd3v). This second precedent reads the populace’s break with the past as an a¤rmation of a more fundamental rule of English behavior. Describing historical instability as “the olde custome and vsage of this londe,” Malory writes the subversive quality of English character in the English geography; thus, in claiming historical precedent for political stability and instability both, Malory condemns the English soil to a double bind in which the source and structure of feudal authority contains the impetus for its subversion; hence Malory’s reading iterates a system similar to Harriss’s but claims it as a historical rule. Malory ends his critique of English history and politics with a final verdict: “and the moost party of alle Englond helde with sire mordred / the people were soo newe fangle” (dd4). On one level, “newe fangle” suggests the newness of the political scene, one in which the noble and nonnoble classes enter into a dialogue about historical authority. In this, it seems to refocus us expressly on the politics of the late fifteenth century, revitalizing the logic of precedent by suggesting the possibility of an original historical moment. Yet the term “newe fangle” is not unique to Malory: Chaucer, Gower, and Lydgate all use it to describe sexual inconstancy, and Caxton’s translation of the Curial applies it to a world of human exchange akin to prostitution.22 In his reading of Anelida and

204 p r i n t a n d s o c i a l o r g a n i z at i o n

Kuskin Ch 5

11/15/07

9:33 AM

Page 205

Arcite, Lee Patterson argues that this sexual sense contains a “Boethian subtext” that implies a recursive structure for history: Chaucer’s depiction of the “newefangelnesse” of Arcite’s erotic restlessness invokes this kind of Boethian critique. Willfully rejecting Anelida’s chaste love, Arcite rejects as well a fully human nature that ineluctably tends toward the true end of things, aligning himself instead with a less than human self that “delyte[th] / In thing that straunge is.”23 On a second level, then, newfangledness reads the tension in Arthurian history as not merely a question of precedent, but as a skepticism stemming from an understanding of human nature as motivated by physical desire. In describing the common voice as newfangled, Malory pairs the newness of class-based social change with the “olde custome” buried deeply in the psychology of the English subject and landscape. For Malory, social ambition and sexual aggression are inextricably linked to one another, and nowhere is this more clear than in Mordred’s desire for Guenevere, a desire that presents his attempt to win the throne as a profane sexual urge that initiates Arthur’s final fall. “And soo he thoughte to bete his owne fader from his landes”: Mordred’s rebellion epitomizes the subversive nature of the sequence of participation and appropriation in English polity by connecting Arthurian history to a series of negative exempla—the fall of Satan, the expulsion from the Garden, the Oedipal drama—in which the patriarch is driven from the material source of his authority: the land. To clarify: my argument is neither that the Arrivall is a gloss on Malory’s work nor that Malory used that text in some way. Rather, I suggest a dynamic and imaginative process of cultural production, so that as much as the two texts are reflective of an overall culture, they appropriate their own authority from that culture and are thus spontaneous interpretations themselves. So, the Arrivall and Le Morte D’Arthur reflect the ongoing cultural patterns of consolidation and appropriation of authority which we also see in the Chaucerian inheritance, and in doing so reproduce these patterns anew. Texts are self-reflective artifacts and are enmeshed in the very processes they describe, and Caxton’s printed version is no different. Thus, his title, which directs his readers toward the sexual nature of

c a x t o n ’ s wo rt h i e s s e r i e s 205

Kuskin Ch 5

11/15/07

9:33 AM

Page 206

Mordred’s bid for the throne—“wold haue maryed the quene his faders wyf ”—suggests this link occurs at the outer limits of sexual and social conduct, limits clearly marked by taboo. So, as much as Caxton’s Le Morte D’Arthur endorses Malory’s condemnation of politicking, it also encourages a certain nostalgia for the Arthurian past as a positive example of stability and a caution against extreme moral decadence. Caxton’s newfangledness is thus a much more ambivalent one than Malory’s, and containing both ends of the term—the unique way a print technology physically and symbolically enables the reader’s identification as a collective, an audience, but still relies on past textual traditions to do so— this ambivalence serves to describe the composition of Caxton’s products as well. The importance of the Worthies, then, is that they provide an overall framework for the production of interpretation that occurs in the literature which models political action. We see this process clearly in Caxton’s prologue to the first work of the series, Godfrey of Boloyne, when he calls upon his readers to participate in a Christian crusade against the Turks: Thenne for thexhortacion of alle Cristen prynces / Lordes / Barons / Knyghtes / Gentilmen / Marchanntes / and all the comyn peple of this noble Royamme Walys & yrlond I haue emprysed to translate this book of the conquest of Iherusalem out of ±renssh in to our maternal tongue / to thentente tencourage them by the redyng and heeryng of the merueyllous historyes herin comprysed and of the holy myracles shewyd / that euery man in his partye endeuoyre theym vnto the resistence a fore sayd / And recuperacion of the sayd holy londe (a3v)24 Caxton can claim a degree of authority for Godfrey because it demonstrates “holy myracles.” As translator and presenter of these “merueyllous historyes,” he participates in their authority, and in doing so can appropriate such authority for his own interpretative statement, his “entente” to encourage a new “recuperacion of the sayd holy londe.” Caxton’s exhortation therefore foregrounds the way English polity relies on structured and spontaneous participation; indeed, his “entente” seems as much “tencourage” unity among his readers as to inspire an actual call to arms. By insisting “that euery man in his partye endeuoyre,” Caxton presents English polity as bound to a linear hierarchy running from “Cristen 206 p r i n t a n d s o c i a l o r g a n i z at i o n

Kuskin Ch 5

11/15/07

9:33 AM

Page 207

prynces” through to “comyn peple,” while also dependent upon each group’s mutual commitment to political action. To my mind, this does not lessen the earnestness of Caxton’s appeal for crusade, but doubles it over with the more ideological goal of articulating the complexity of fifteenth-century polity. Godfrey gives Caxton the authority for this twofold political interpretation of current events, and in his prologue he casts this interpretation as a specifically literary reading of the Nine Worthies: And for to deserue the tenthe place . I beseche almyghty God to graunte and ottroye to our sayd souerayn lord . or to one of his noble progenye / I meane my lord Prynce / and my lord Rychard duc of yorke and norfolke . to whom I humbly beseche / at theyr leyzer and playsyr to see & here redde this symple book . by which they may be encoraged to deserue lawde and honour and that their name and renomme may encreace and remayne perpetuel. (a4) In arguing that a repetition of Godfrey’s example will ensure that Edward’s, Richard’s, or the little prince’s “renomme may encreace and remayne perpetuel,” Caxton casts the work’s exemplary value as allowing a reproduction of the past that enables a lasting future. Installing a tenth Worthy into the list of kings, he also insists that contemporary political action changes the structure of literary history. Thus, Caxton’s use of the Worthies parallels a relationship between subjects and authority with one between readers and works. Operating across a series of works and disseminated in quantity, Caxton’s critical program does something new: it produces a vernacular literary authority capable of placing his contemporary secular readers within community and literary history. In any case, Caxton’s interpretation here should not be written o± as a mere bid to promote Godfrey to the nobility so much as a complex interweaving of economic, textual, and historical authority toward a discrete political statement.

The Production of Literary Authority Caxton’s prologues to his Worthies texts elaborate upon the production of this interpretive stance by modulating the Worthies’ representation of c a x t o n ’ s wo rt h i e s s e r i e s 207

Kuskin Ch 5

11/15/07

9:33 AM

Page 208

political authority toward an understanding of the individual based in literary authority. This is apparent in his discussion of the meaning of Le Morte D’Arthur: “And for to passe the tyme thys book shal be plesaunte to rede in / but for to gyue fayth and byleue that al is trewe that is conteyned herin / ye be at your lyberte but al is wryton for our doctryne / and for to beware that we falle not to vyce ne synne” (3r–v). Caxton directs his audience’s encounter with the work, neither by referring to Malory’s authorial control nor by simply insisting on the validity of the Arthurian legend, but by applying St. Paul’s Romans 15:4—“for whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction”—to vernacular interpretation.25 Romans 15:4 is a repeated trope in Caxton’s writing, one he investigates further in the prologue to Charles the Grete, where he uses it to illustrate how the participation in and appropriation of doctrinal literary authority constructs the secular subject. While Caxton uses the Nine Worthies to frame his critical program in terms of English polity, he uses Romans 15:4 to solidify its purchase on literary authority and Benedict Anderson’s very terminology—the imagination—to explain the utility of reading for a secular purpose. Thus, just as Harriss points out that the process of participating in a larger communication network produces the individual as a “channel,” Caxton’s critical program constructs the many classes participating in English polity—his “prynces / Lordes / Barons / Knyghtes / Gentilmen / Marchanntes / and all the comyn peple”—as a unified readership in relation to the vernacular texts he presents as authoritative. Caxton’s discussion of Paul in the prologue to Charles the Grete is largely a close translation of the prologue to his French source, “Saint Pol docteur de verite,” now lost but remaining in versions such as Garbin’s 1483 edition of Fierabras.26 Caxton’s reliance on his sources has generally been read as a weakness in his abilities as a writer, his particular translation of “Saint Pol docteur de verite” a “confusion.”27 As a rhetorical technique, however, these borrowings enable Caxton to apply an existing field of contemporary writing to his own ends, and in this case Caxton is able to appropriate what turns out to be a much larger discussion of appropriation in general. Caxton’s version opens: “Saynt Poul doctour of veryte sayth to vs that al thynges that ben reduced by wrytyng / ben wryton to our doctryne / And Boece maketh mencion that the helthe of euery persone procedeth dyuercely” (a2). Caxton’s use of Paul

208 p r i n t a n d s o c i a l o r g a n i z at i o n

Kuskin Ch 5

11/15/07

9:33 AM

Page 209

and Boethius, both readers of the Old Testament, places the vernacular work in an exegetical context. Caxton is more than willing to acknowledge that this theoretical apparatus gives his text over to the service of Christian authority; in fact, his translation belabors the obvious: “Thenne sythe it is soo that the cristen feyth is a±ermed and corrobered by the doctours of holy chyrche / Neuertheles the thynges passed dyuersley reduced to remembraunce / engendre in vs correction of vnlauful lyf.” Rather than suggesting that his use of Paul appropriates scriptural authority, Caxton initially claims just the opposite: that Paul and Boethius a¤rm and corroborate Christian faith—that an exegetical method of reading appropriates his texts for the Church. Yet no sooner does Caxton establish this movement toward doctrinal authority than he enacts a second appropriation back toward the secular: Caxton’s argument is that the ability to interpret the text simultaneously proceeds from (“thenne sythe it is soo”) and in spite of (“neuertheles”) the fact that the doctors of the Holy Church a¤rm and corroborate Christian faith. Because Paul and Boethius read for a doctrinal sentence, the first-person plural audience of Caxton’s prologue can read at a more literal level—the level of things and texts—and still obtain a purchase on a figural meaning beyond the text. In this lies a claim for secular interpretation: “For the werkes of the auncient and olde peple ben for to gyue to vs ensaumple to lyue in good & vertuous operacions digne & worthy of helth in folowyng the good / and eschewyng the euyl.” Though Caxton acknowledges that all works are written for doctrinal authority, he simultaneously suggests that the “werkes of the auncient and olde peple” are for secular benefit. As with Chaucer’s Retraction, the very act of giving the vernacular text over to Christian exegesis, of acknowledging that its meaning is appropriated by a larger doctrinal authority, authorizes a reading that is not necessarily doctrinal. Rather than a singular movement of authority from the secular and literal to the ecclesiastical and spiritual, the most powerful aspect of Romans 15:4 is its ability to engage in a double appropriation that holds these categories in tension.28 We see this tension played out repeatedly in the Worthies Series. In Godfrey Caxton presents the siege of Jerusalem as a doctrinal exemplum—“for to moeue and tenflawme the hertes of the Redars and hierers . for teschewe and flee werkes vycious, dishonnest and vytuperable”— capable of legitimizing very tangible benefits: “enterpryses honnestes and

c a x t o n ’ s wo rt h i e s s e r i e s 209

Kuskin Ch 5

11/15/07

9:33 AM

Page 210

werkes of gloryous meryte to lyue in remembraunce perpetuel” (a2). Caxton turns Paul’s double appropriation into a double profitability for the secular reader which o±ers two distinct lessons, one benefiting the readers’ “hertes,” the other suggesting “enterpryses” for greater glory. Thus, by telling his readers “to doo as this noble prynce Gode±roy of boloyne dyde,” Caxton is able to present a Christian moral while arguing for specific political actions (a3v). Similarly, in the prologue to Le Morte D’Arthur Caxton has no trouble listing the literal facts behind the Arthurian legend—the Round Table at Winchester, Gawain’s skull at Dover, and so forth—but wavers over the truth of Arthur’s existence— “but for to gyue fayth and byleue that al is trewe that is conteyned herin / ye be at your lyberte” (3)—not from some sort of fuzziness in his ability to distinguish between the factual and the verisimilar, history and romance, truth and propaganda, but because his ideological agenda for secular interpretation depends upon the tension between monarchical and independent political authority within the structure of polity, and doctrinal and secular literary authority within the structure of exegesis. The crucial point is that instead of constructing static poles of value, the doubly appropriative mechanism of Romans 15:4 applies the dynamic relationship of structure and subversion to a literary context, thus authorizing the secular reading of a vernacular text by aligning it with a previously established doctrinal authority. In claiming such a relationship, Caxton is able to leverage authority for his entire Worthies Series simply by insisting on its place in a larger canon. For example, in Godfrey and Le Morte D’Arthur, Caxton specifically identifies the Worthies with textual sources. In Godfrey he finds the Jewish heroes in Scripture, Hector in “Ouyde / Homer Virgyle / Dares . Dyctes and other dyuerse [writers],” Caesar in “poetes as lucan / stace and other,” Arthur in “large volumes and books grete plente and many,” “Charlemayn . . . in large volumes,” and Godfrey “in Latyn and ±rensshe in large and grete volumes” (a2v–a3). In Le Morte D’Arthur he finds Hector “bothe in balade and in prose,” Caesar in “thystoryes ben wel kno and had,” that “the byble reherceth al [the Jews’] noble hystoryes 7 actes,” Godfrey in his own edition, and Charles “in many places bothe in Frensshe and Englysshe” (2).29 In both of these prologues the Bible is one of a string of historically authorized works; as much as Caxton can apply his Pauline doctrine to each of them, he can assert that their cul-

210 p r i n t a n d s o c i a l o r g a n i z at i o n

Kuskin Ch 5

11/15/07

9:33 AM

Page 211

tural authority comes not from their associations with particular libraries, but from their participation in a sequence stemming from this doctrinal authority. The result is that in Le Morte D’Arthur, for example, Caxton can make claims for the validity of incorporating the Arthurian legends into the English canon even though they lack an established auctor. Finding versions of Arthur in “duche ytalyen spaynysshe and grekysshe” (2v ), he remarks that many noble volumes be made of hym & of his noble knygtes in frensshe which I haue seen & redde beyonde the see / which been not had in our maternal tongue / but in walsshe ben many & also in frensshe / & somme in englysshe but nowher nygh alle / wherfore suche as haue late ben drawen oute bryefly in to englysshe / I haue after the symple connyng that god hath sente to me / vnder the fauour and correctyon of al noble lordes and gentylmen enprysed to enprynte a book of the noble hystoryes of the sayd kynge Arthur. (3) Given the Arthuriad’s presence in so many foreign “noble volumes,” Malory’s role as a translator, important though it may be, becomes less crucial than Caxton’s own act of dissemination. The result is that Caxton can commute Malory to something of a conduit in the appropriation of the works’ authority as they are “drawen oute bryefly in to englysshe,” and materialized as individual texts. Ultimately, Malory too takes on authority only through his structural role in participating in a greater authority, be that as translator-compiler for a definitive collection of tales, the recueil, or as Lancastrian and Yorkist operative.30 Malory is a “channel” in the transmission process, an individual taking on identity as a political subject as he participates and appropriates in the larger economy of literary authority. While Paul underwrites the entire Worthies Series, Caxton’s translation of “Saint Pol docteur de verite” is unique in its specific articulation of how literary authority constructs the individual as a subject. The section in Charles the Grete on Paul concludes: “and also in recountyng of hye hystoryes / the comune vnderstondyng is better content to the ymagnacion local than to symple auctoryte to which it is submysed” (a2). “Ymagnacion” appears in a number of Caxton’s texts in the modern sense of the imaginary. Here, this imagination is “local,” and like the “comune

c a x t o n ’ s wo rt h i e s s e r i e s 211

Kuskin Ch 5

11/15/07

9:33 AM

Page 212

vnderstondyng” it exists within the jurisdiction of a greater authority. Just as Caxton’s submission of his text to Paul and Boethius defines it as within Christian doctrine, his definition of his readers as having “comune vnderstondyng” submits (OED, “submise”) them to unadorned (OED, “simple,” 1–3) authority. Within this process of subjection lies a choice, though, and the “comune vnderstondyng” is “better content” with the “ymagnacion local.” The act of reading for “ymagnacion local” therefore repeats Paul’s double appropriation while giving it a specifically ideological edge: it folds the secular reader into the field of a greater authority by suggesting a reconciliation with this authority in the imaginary.31 For Caxton, the individual is symbolically born as a subject out of the participation and appropriation of literary authority, and this process of participation and appropriation is no less than the process of interpretation itself. Thus, Caxton’s claim in Le Morte D’Arthur that his audience is composed of “many noble and dyuers gentylmen” can be read in two ways: literally as a reference to the many di±erent literate groups in the fifteenth century that take an active part in English polity—the “Cristen prynces / Lordes / Barons / Knyghtes / Gentilmen / Marchanntes / and all the comyn peple of this noble Royamme” Caxton addresses in Godfrey—and symbolically as a gloss for the way his discursive apparatus unifies this group as an audience in the intangible but no less political realm of the imagination. This apparatus does not imply that Caxton created readers where none previously existed. The physical construction of the Winchester manuscript of Le Morte D’Arthur argues that the wealthier members of the non-noble classes were buying Arthurian romance before Caxton began his Worthies Series.32 Caxton’s task in the 1480s was to find a way to channel the press’s capacity for volume, and he did this by making his vernacular canon relevant to all those participating in English polity, allowing them to participate in the imagination of a vernacular authority common to all. Physically, the press allows him to price his texts at a fraction of the manuscript’s: the Worthies Series, printed in folio, ranges in size from the Charles the Grete at only 96 leaves to Le Morte D’Arthur’s 432 leaves. As we have seen, the Legenda ad usum Sarum, a mass book of 372 leaves folio with red printed rubrics, was priced at 5s. and 13s. 4d. apiece. Given the discrepancy in the records, the additional importation costs, the di±erence in folio pages and printing style, the Legenda can sug-

212 p r i n t a n d s o c i a l o r g a n i z at i o n

Kuskin Ch 5

11/15/07

9:33 AM

Page 213

gest only a very rough approximation of Caxton’s prices. In comparison, however, Carol M. Meale estimates the cost of the Winchester manuscript at £4. 15s.33 Thus, if the press physically enables Caxton to place his products within financial reach of an expanded clientele, his critical program—in this case the Worthies and Paul—allows him to make Le Morte D’Arthur and his Burgundian imports intellectually recognizable and useful to this audience despite the text’s lack of a broadly recognized auctor such as Chaucer. Caxton’s critical program therefore organizes his disparate and shifting population of readers into a coherent body through the very social tensions that make an exclusive appeal to any one group of readers confining. Material and symbolic, physical and intellectual, Caxton’s production of his readers as “dyuers gentylmen” constructs them as unified subjects engaged with a vernacular canon.

Reading the Subject of Desire One central function of literature is to articulate an imaginary relationship between the individual and the world in which he or she lives. Caxton’s Worthies participates in this relationship on a number of levels. His prologues accomplish it through the framework of the Nine Worthies, which organizes his diverse readership as an audience, and his Pauline rhetoric provides an intellectual apparatus for appropriating literary authority. The series engages its readers in other ways as well. Beyond the covers of the individual texts the call for a crusade in Godfrey finds its complement in Caxton’s indulgences, which invite the reader to underwrite just such a crusade financially. Within the books’ covers, the plots of the series not only dramatize the action of a crusade but illustrate the symbolic power of material goods for a secular readership. In short, the Worthies Series presents a vision of history in which the romance past is directly connected to the lived present. Caxton’s critical program synthesizes various modes of production without resolving them; thus it implies a connection between indulgence sales and English literature that is never made explicit; indeed, the program is stronger for its vagary because articulating any link between these variegated items would make brittle the fragile connection between them. The strength of Caxton’s critical program is that it is suggestive of imaginary relations between literal action

c a x t o n ’ s wo rt h i e s s e r i e s 213

Kuskin Ch 5

11/15/07

9:33 AM

Page 214

and a greater symbolic meaning that it never rationalizes. In this, it not only speaks to Caxton’s readers, but provides a platform for contemporary printers, such as John Lettou and William de Machlinia, who followed a similar strategy by printing a set of indulgences with the accompanying 1482 edition of John Kay’s Siege of Rhodes. Translated between March and June 1481, Godfrey of Boloyne or The Siege and Conquest of Jerusalem is Caxton’s version of a French continuation of William of Tyre’s history of the first crusade. Composed in Palestine between 1163 and 1183, William of Tyre’s text was left incomplete at his death and continued in a number of separate chronicles, eventually combined into one work by Bernardus Thesaurius in 1232. Further chroniclers added to the text, and Caxton’s translation is from the 1275 continuation.34 Beginning with a short history of the Turkish conquest of Jerusalem, the narrative takes shape with Peter the Hermit’s delivery of letters from the Christians of Jerusalem to Pope Urban. The first major section of Caxton’s text is largely concerned with the crusading armies’ chaotic progress across Hungary and ends with their capture of Nicaea, which they deliver to the emperor of Constantinople on June 20, 1097. The second section focuses on the siege of Antioch, which, with the help of the Christian allies within the city, the crusaders take on June 6, 1098. The third and last part of the text describes the siege of Jerusalem, Godfrey’s election as king of Jerusalem, his refusal to be crowned where Christ himself was crowned, and his death on July 18, 1100. Caxton was committed to a new crusade even though King Edward appears not to have been, and he printed at least ten indulgences, at least eight of which were aimed at raising money to aid in defense against Turkish advances in the Mediterranean.35 Such indulgences were commissioned by licensed individuals in the name of the pope and seem to have been relatively common in the fifteenth century; Gutenberg and Fust printed indulgences in Mainz quite soon after the invention of the press itself.36 Jobbing work was clearly important to Caxton, and he began to experiment with it close to his return to England, at the same time as his early Chaucerian quartos. In 1476 he printed an indulgence extending the 1475 Jubilee Indulgence to England in order to raise money for a Christian fleet. This indulgence (STC 14077c.106) was commissioned by Abbot John Sant in the name of Pope Sixtus IV and granted to Henry Langley and his wife, Catherine. As Caxton’s prologue to Godfrey reports,

214 p r i n t a n d s o c i a l o r g a n i z at i o n

Kuskin Ch 5

11/15/07

9:33 AM

Page 215

in August of 1480 Otranto was captured by the Turks, and in 1480 Caxton issued two single-issue indulgences for John Kendale and the Knights of Rhodes (STC 14077c.107 and 140777c.110 /A), one plural issue (STC 14077c.110), and a plural issue letter of confraternity for the Hospital of St. Mary Rounceval, Charing Cross, commissioned by Edward Ponyngs, John Kendale, and John Lynton (STC 14077c.55B). Caxton’s promotion of indulgences continued into 1481 with indulgences also associated with the Knights of Rhodes but commissioned by Johannes de Gigliis (in a single issue, STC 14077c.113, and plural issue, STC 14077c.112). The relationship between these short-term, commissioned, singlesheet printed items and the more ambitious literary editions is not obvious. David R. Carlson writes, Jobbing has been imagined to be a potboiler for the early printers— something with which they could keep plant and capital occupied in the interstices between their employment at their proper work, the reproduction of books, as if book-production was naturally, inevitably paramount. Speculative book-publication turns out to have been essential to the ability of an early printer like Caxton to generate sustained profit from the productive capacity of his machinery. In the short term, however, book-production seems more likely to have been the potboiler, keeping the machinery busy at intervals between its employment at jobs that would certainly have paid, and paid immediately. The logic of profit allots pride of place to jobbing in the development of early English printing.37 Carlson’s point reverses the traditional emphasis on Caxton’s literary productions as the significant mark of his press to recognize the role of ephemera in “the logic of profit.” Within this, he underscores how both large-scale book production and short-term jobbing must be interrelated to keep the machinery busy. In a text such as Godfrey, one about the crusade in its plot, the relationship between these print forms—between the speculative book publishing of “merueyllous histories” and the jobbing of indulgences—is actually doubled over, so not only does the jobbing work maintain the productive capacity of the machines but the longer works’ topicality feeds demand for the jobbed items. Further, it is the nature of the Worthies Series to unify, to tie otherwise unrelated themes together,

c a x t o n ’ s wo rt h i e s s e r i e s 215

Kuskin Ch 5

11/15/07

9:33 AM

Page 216

in this case bringing texts that are not overtly about the crusades, such as Le Morte D’Arthur, to the same agenda. Indeed, Caxton printed an indulgence for the Dominican priory of Arundel (STC 14077c.25A) close on his publication of Le Morte D’Arthur in 1485, and two against the Turks in 1489, both for Johannes de Gigliis and Perseus de Malviciis, a single issue (STC 14077c.115) and a plural issue (STC 14077c.114). This connection broadens the scope of Caxton’s critical program significantly for it suggests his thinking spans what to us seems like discrete print-genres, using content to connect large-scale publications to the lucrative business of consignment jobbing. The texts of the Worthies Series are involved in smoothing out this imaginary connection. Godfrey, in particular, does this through an investigation of secular readership, opposing doctrinal and secular readings of material circumstances, particularly of the body. For example, during the siege of Antioch, provisions become so scarce that famine threatens the Christian camp. Latyns, a spy planted in the host by the emperor of Constantinople, uses this as an opportunity to demoralize the troops: “by the wordes that he had sowen / and by thensample of his departyng . began many men to departe fro thoost” (s3v). The bishop of Puy, the highest-ranking cleric among the lords, reads this exodus as a sign of divine displeasure and sets out a regime of fasting and penance in which “alle the comyn wymmen of euil lyf shold be voyded. . . [and those] who that after that were taken in adulterye or in fornycacion shood haue his heed smeton of / [and the] Incontinent the droncardys of the tauernes the players of dyse” punished likewise (s3v–s4). Positing a depth beyond the physical, the bishop treats the problem of famine as a shadow of a larger spiritual malaise and purges the corporate body through the individual pilgrims’ bodies. His reading equates the material lack of food with a spiritual lack, and sets its limits in a spiritual depth beyond physical reality. Though this regimen results in a change—Godfrey recovers from a previously unmentioned illness—it is insu¤cient in its explanatory force to resolve the problems at hand, and just as the text presented the cause of the problems—Latyns’s treasonous words—to be secular and discursive, it o±ers a second interpretation of the events to resolve the scene. After the bishop pronounces his reading, the leaders of the crusade hold a council in which one of their number, Bohemond, proposes to answer physical lack with physical excess:

216 p r i n t a n d s o c i a l o r g a n i z at i o n

Kuskin Ch 5

11/15/07

9:33 AM

Page 217

Buymont forgate not this that he had promysed / whan tyme of soupper cam / he disposed and ordeyned hym for to souppe / he made the knyghtes of his contre to take out somme turkes that he had in prison . And made theyr throtes to be cutte / And after smote them in pyeces and arrayed them for to be rosted. (s4v ) Where the bishop’s reading matched spiritual failings with physical abstinence, Bohemond’s responds to famine by using the body as nourishment. This is not Bohemond’s endgame, though. Ultimately, he is interested in the symbolic impact of his reading, in creating a discourse of terror: his reading is phrased as a “promise,” and though he does kill some prisoners, his physical actions primarily serve to generate further oaths—“thenne Buymont sayd to his men / And bad his men also to saye to other / that alle the barons had thus ordeyned and sworn that alle the espyes that myght be taken in thost shold be rosted and seruyd at the tables of the barons / And the barons shold ete them by their oth”—and to spread rumor in the camp: “thyse tidynges were anon spred thurgh out thoost / that suche Iustyce was don in the lodgys of buymont.” If the bishop of Puy’s reading argues that significance lies in a profound spiritual depth, Bohemond’s is nonetheless symbolic but instead remains superficial and literal, skimming the surface of the material world to discover meaning entirely within the secular discourse it combats. To the extent that the text o±ers both readings but only Bohemond’s resolves the mass defections, his is the stronger of the two. The text’s endorsement of this sort of secular interpretation of the material world does not eliminate the sense that spiritual depth resides in Godfrey of Boloyne so much as emphasize its inaccessibility. Just as Caxton insists in his prologue that the text contains “holy myracles,” the narrator also remarks upon its spiritual significance: for example, after Godfrey crosses from his siege engines to the walls of Jerusalem and opens the gates to his forces, the narrator pauses to underscore the event’s scriptural resonance: This was vpon a frydaye aboute None / It is a thynge for to be byleuyd . that oure lord dyde this by grete sygnefyaunce . ±or on this daye and about that hour su±red he deth on the crosse right cruel in the same place . for the Redempcion of man . Therfore wold the

c a x t o n ’ s wo rt h i e s s e r i e s 217

Kuskin Ch 5

11/15/07

9:33 AM

Page 218

swete lord that the peple of his trewe pylgryms shold gete this toun and delyuer it oute of the seruage and thraldom of the hethen men . and make it free vnto Cristen men that his seruyse myght be had therin and encreced. (15.3v–15.4) By temporally and geographically aligning Godfrey with Christ the narrator implies an allegorical parallel between the “grete sygnefyaunce” of Godfrey’s physical conquest of Jerusalem and Christ’s crucifixion. Suspending Godfrey’s body between siege tower and wall, between physical being and spiritual meaning, the narrator constructs it as an allegorical sign capable of bridging the distance between literal and figural sentence. Though this alignment strives for allegorical depth within a secular history, the story itself reveals a stunning lack of the grace implied by the “Redempcion of man”: immediately after taking Jerusalem the crusaders annihilate the populace, killing ten thousand women and children who seek salvation in the temple of Jerusalem. Remarking, “myght no prayers ne cryeng of mercy auaylle,” the narrator himself seems sympathetic to the Muslims’ plight (15.4). If the “grete sygnefyaunce” of Christ’s death is, in part, mercy, this is a lesson that the narrator recognizes but the story itself does not support. Though Jerusalem is achieved, though the narrator tries to force an allegorical reading, though the entire crusade proceeds linearly to the site of the major Christian event, the moment at which the temporal and the spiritual should be most compressed is the moment of the work’s greatest violence. In Godfrey the literal and spiritual never come together; Godfrey may pass over the walls to Jerusalem, but his physical arrival remains fractured from spiritual depth, implied by proximity but never fully rationalized. The distance between the material and doctrinal is not unique to one or two of Godfrey’s scenes but characterizes its progress overall. As much as Godfrey brings its Christians to a series of biblical locations, it is also defined by an obsession with secular “enterpryses”: the barons’ continual bickering and treasonous infighting over conquered territory, their unwillingness to proceed on to Jerusalem when the foraging is good elsewhere, their grotesque bargaining with the few surviving citizens of Jerusalem, their quarrel over the possession of the Tower of David, and the fraudulent election of the patriarch of Jerusalem all attest to the work’s interest in earthly politics. Like Bohemond’s reading of the famine, these events are presented less as negative exempla—the secular 218 p r i n t a n d s o c i a l o r g a n i z at i o n

Kuskin Ch 5

11/15/07

9:33 AM

Page 219

failings of a great spiritual mission—than as simple truths of the crusade. Even Godfrey’s coronation, the work’s great moment of humility, is contested by “somme men that wyll not accompte him . emong the kynges of Iherusalem” (16.4v). Though the narrator initially disregards these voices to insist Godfrey’s is a Christian gesture, his final analysis concedes the di¤culty of ascertaining any figural meaning for it at all: “wherfore thenne I saye not only that he was not kynge . but he was gretter than ony kynge that holdeth ony Royamme syth that the holy londe of Iherusalem was conquered.” Godfrey’s significance never comes together in an allegorical structure in which the literal reflects a doctrinal figural truth. Instead, even at its most emphatic, the literal and the spiritual remain in contradiction, in Godfrey’s paradoxical state of being “not kynge” and “gretter than ony kynge.” Godfrey’s paradox presents the exemplum of Godfrey of Bouillon as a narrative in which secular brutality is evoked as evidence that spiritual truth is beyond the body, demonstrating that the subject remains enmeshed in material violence even when placed in a biblical topography. The participants within the storyline may attempt, like the bishop of Puy, to attribute spiritual depth to their experience, to sink into the meaning latent in the biblical landscape, but they only act according to the requirements of material power. Interpretation in Godfrey of Boloyne stands, like Godfrey upon the walls of Jerusalem, suspended between the physical demands of being and the apparent, but still inaccessible, claims of spiritual signification. To cover this inaccessibility, the work imagines the physical body as the absolute limit of secular interpretation, and the ideological limit of power. Subsequently, the most basic restraints on power are those that act upon the body itself: violence, famine, drought, and pestilence. Hunger is a persistent problem throughout the narrative, and just as it is part of the exodus at Antioch, it also plays a major role in the journey across Hungary, the march from Nicaea, the holding of Antioch, the pilgrimage across the desert, and the siege of Jerusalem itself. The pricing of food is continually remarked upon as “resonable chepe,” “good chepe,” “better chepe,” and even “grete chepe.” So interpretation in Godfrey discovers a symbolic nature to the text, but this symbolism is accessed through, and limited to, materialism itself. Le Morte D’Arthur conceives of these limits in historical terms, and it also insists that the physical body marks the limits of interpretation but grants greater spiritual authority to secular subjects. We can see this c a x t o n ’ s wo rt h i e s s e r i e s 219

Kuskin Ch 5

11/15/07

9:33 AM

Page 220

clearly in the juxtaposition between two versions of this text, Caxton’s printed edition and the Winchester manuscript (now B.L. Add MS. 59678). Caxton’s version of the Roman War episode is so much tighter than the Winchester’s that it is almost unanimously regarded as an aesthetic improvement. This assessment has led to a long-standing debate as to whether Caxton or Malory revised the text.38 Eliminating many of the stylistic traces of its source, the alliterative Morte Arthure, the printed version of Le Morte D’Arthur emphasizes the crusadelike aspect of Arthur’s journey to Rome, so that as Arthur achieves power as a Christian emperor he also establishes a new period of history, one in which secular and ecclesiastical power are aligned in the figure of the monarch. This brings the early section of the Le Morte D’Arthur in line with the series’ overall interest in interpretation, crusade, and the history of the Nine Worthies, providing a thematic continuity that suggests Caxton did, in fact, revise the War with Lucius.39 In the Winchester manuscript the War with Lucius initiates a contest for secular authority between Christian kings. This is illustrated by Lucius’s ambassadors’ visit to Arthur’s court, the specifics of his demand, and the reactions of Arthur’s knights. Initially, Lucius’s ambassadors are cowed by Arthur’s anger: “Sir seyde one of the senatoures so cryste me helpe I was so a frede whan I loked In thy face that myne herte wolde nat serue for to sey my message.”40 Swearing on Christ, the ambassador’s reaction is as a Christian carrying out secular politics. In turn, Lucius’s demand is based entirely in political precedent: the ambassadors tell Arthur, “The gretis welle Lucius the Emperour of Roome and commaundis the vppon payne that woll falle to sende hym the trewage of this Realme that thy fadir Vther Pendragon payde other ellys he woll be reve the all thy Realmys that thou weldyst” (875). Lucius makes no claims to spiritual authority, and later his complaint that “ony kynge crystynde” should obey him fixes his demand as a secular action within a Christian framework (877). In turn, Arthur’s councillors also note, rather less comfortably, that Lucius operates in political collusion with the pope; the lord of West Wales recalls that while passing through Tuscany on a pilgrimage, his knights were captured and ransomed: “And than I complayned me to the Potestate [ruler] the Pope hym self but I had no thynge ellys but pleasunte wordys other reson at Roome myght I none haue and so I yode my way sore rebuked” (876). In the Winchester manuscript the

220 p r i n t a n d s o c i a l o r g a n i z at i o n

Kuskin Ch 5

11/15/07

9:33 AM

Page 221

War with Lucius is just that: a war between Christian kings for political authority. The opening to Caxton’s book 5 frames the War with Lucius along much di±erent lines. In Caxton, Lucius is “Dictatour or procutour of the publyke wele of Rome” (h7v ) and has no clear relationship to the pope. His ambassadors cite only secular law, the “statutes and decrees maade by the noble and worthy Iulius Cezar conquerour of this Royame / and fyrst Emperour of Rome,” and make no reference to Christ. The basis for Lucius’s authority is not his right over “ony kynge crystynde,” but his rule over “the vnyuersal world” inherited from the last of the pagan Worthies, Caesar. The ambassadors threaten to brand Arthur a “rebelle” to Caesar’s law but not to Christian history, and when Arthur calls a council there are no complaints about the pope’s political a¤nities. Although in both texts the Romans are aligned with non-Christian forces, the printed version heightens this alignment by eliminating their relationship to Christianity almost entirely. In the Winchester manuscript, Lucius is a Christian and his demands appeal to lineage but not to history; in Caxton, his authority comes from a history of pagan kings, a pre-Christian historical narrative, and in this context, since Arthur is the first Christian Worthy, there is no way of imagining history otherwise. This makes Arthur’s War with Lucius more like a Christian crusade; more importantly, it changes the war’s implications from a conflict over political authority to a defining event in Christian history in which a monarch’s political acts are also acts of Christian service. Caxton’s Arthur is like his Godfrey in that he attempts to carry secular “enterpryses” toward a Christian end. Fittingly, the methods of explication in book 5 gravitate toward allegory. In both the Winchester manuscript and Caxton’s printed edition, Arthur’s dream of the dragon and the boar is explicated by a “wyse philosopher” as presaging his battle with “some tyraunt” (i2v). In the short term this reading looks ahead to Arthur’s battle with the Giant of Mont St. Michel who, like the boar in Arthur’s dream, is explicitly referred to as a tyrant.41 In this context the Giant’s crimes—his vanquishing “xv kynges and . . . [his] cote ful of precious stones enbrowdred with theyre berdes,” his gluttonous eating of children, and that “fowle lust of lechery” (i3v), his murderous rape of the Duchess of Brittany—are the tyrannical excesses of limitless power (i2v). In Caxton the scene concludes with a melee between Arthur and the

c a x t o n ’ s wo rt h i e s s e r i e s 221

Kuskin Ch 5

11/15/07

9:33 AM

Page 222

Giant, pared down to two blows, each castrating the other: the Giant enacts his political threat by knocking the crown o± Arthur’s head— castrating him metaphorically—and Arthur ends the Giant’s rapacious sexual gluttony by castrating him physically. The dream thus finds its signification in the contest for local authority, which in turn looks ahead to the larger contest between Arthur and Lucius. In that the philosopher’s reading sets up a relationship between Arthur’s dream and two levels of secular events, it is reminiscent of Bohemond’s reading of Latyns’s treachery; however, where Bohemond reads the subject in the physical body, Caxton’s book 5 is no less physical but focuses on the body of the monarch. As in Godfrey, one reading of events suggests the possibility of a second, spiritual interpretation. So both versions present this possibility by referring to the battle between Arthur and the Giant as a pilgrimage to “Saynt Mychels Mounte.” The Winchester manuscript develops this second reading through Sir Bedivere’s caricature of St. Michael as the Giant: “And there he seyde I haue mykyll wondir and Mychael be of suche a makyng that euer god wolde su¤r hym to a byde in hevyn. And if seyntis be suche that servys Ihesu I woll neuer seke for none be the fayth of my body. The kynge than lough at Bedwers wordis and seyde this seynte haue I sought nyghe vnto grete daungere.”42 Bedivere reads the Giant as St. Michael specifically to reject a spiritual reading; like Godfrey his reading raises the possibility of spiritual allegory only to dismiss it and return to the body. This is in line with the Winchester manuscript as a whole in that it acknowledges the presence of Christian authority, but carries out its business entirely in secular politics. In Caxton’s text this second reading is edited out. Where the Winchester manuscript continually includes the Christian to the point of suggesting that Arthur’s Christianity makes no di±erence, Caxton’s revisions reduce these internal tensions between the literal and figural to contrast Lucius and Arthur and to move the Worthies Series away from Godfrey.43 Though the Winchester manuscript recreates Godfrey’s tension in reading styles, then, Malory in general presents the body as capable of figuring spiritual meaning. This is most readily illustrated by Gawain’s encounter with Priamus, an event that also introduces Malory’s most direct discussion of the Nine Worthies. Similar in the printed and handwritten versions, this episode begins firmly grounded in the secular and

222 p r i n t a n d s o c i a l o r g a n i z at i o n

Kuskin Ch 5

11/15/07

9:33 AM

Page 223

the material: lacking “vytaylle,” Arthur orders a party to go foraging (i7). Wandering o± alone, Gawain encounters a Tuscan knight and they fight. Gawain cuts open Sir Priamus’s side “that men myghte see bothe lyuer and long” (i7v), and Priamus gives Gawain a mortal wound: “For who someuer is hurte with this blade he shalle neuer be staunched of bledyng” (i7v –i8). The two knights parley and Sir Priamus presents himself: “Syre he sayd my name is Pryamus / and a grete prynce is my fader / and he hath ben rebelle vnto Rome and ouer ryden many of theyr londes / My fader is lyneally descended of Alysaunder and of hector by ryght lygne / and duke Iosue and Machabeus were of oure lygnage” (i8). Descended from four of the six non-Christian Worthies, Priamus’s father has specifically broken with Lucius, who inherited his own power from Caesar. Describing a break in the Worthies’ history just before Arthur, Priamus’s genealogy enacts a sort of historical précis without its final Christian chapter. Possessing vials of holy water from Paradise capable of healing their wounds, Priamus already has a material purchase on Christian history. Thus the test of martial arms, a secular a±air, gives way to the revelation and forging of spiritual identity in Christian history. From this point on the episode looks to codify Priamus’s relationship to Christianity through conversion. The actual act of conversion is beyond Gawain, who brings Priamus to Arthur, reporting: He hath matched me / but he is yolden vnto god and to me for to bycome Crysten . had not he haue be we shold neuer haue retorned / whefore I pray yow that he may be baptysed / for ther lyueth not a nobler man ne better knyght of his handes / thenne the kyng lete hym anon be crystned / and dyd doo calle hym his fyrste name Pryamus / and made hym a duke and knyghte of the table round. (k1v) Descended from the Jewish and pagan Worthies, Priamus embodies two of the Worthies’ historical categories. His conversion presents the shift from pagan to Christian history as an entrance into knighthood.44 Through it, Arthur not only names Priamus, he names him knight and Christian as well. Priamus’s conversion combines baptism with knighthood to reveal the problem with Lucius’s authority as not simply its secularity but its inability to relate the secular to the spiritual. If Lucius’s authority stems only from his secular inheritance from history, Arthur’s

c a x t o n ’ s wo rt h i e s s e r i e s 223

Kuskin Ch 5

11/15/07

9:33 AM

Page 224

stems from his control over identity, his ability to codify the Christian religion into secular practices. In this, Arthur contains pagan history within his authority as a monarch. Both Godfrey and Le Morte D’Arthur therefore establish the Worthy as a Christian hero in the material conditions of the body. Godfrey encountered this as a split between material being and spiritual meaning epitomized in his entrance to Jerusalem. Arthur overcomes this division in book 5, advancing Godfrey’s assertion of material power as a means of consolidating community through an ideology that figures spirituality through secular authority. After Priamus’s conversion, Arthur proceeds to Rome and is crowned emperor. Anointed “with creme as it bylongeth to so hyhe astate” (k2v), his spiritual authority is evoked on his body; however, this is merely a formal confirmation of what his sanctioning of Priamus’s baptism already demonstrated: that Arthur’s authority has an ecclesiastical franchise. Where Godfrey remained “not kynge” and “gretter than ony kynge,” Arthur’s anointment specifically salves over this rupture; he is a king who commands ecclesiastical as well as secular authority. This unity is expressed in his knights’ relationship to desire and their performance of law. Immediately after Arthur’s coronation, his knights beg him to allow them to return to their wives: “wherfore we byseche you to retorne homeward / and gyue vs lycence to goo home to oure wyues / fro whome we haue ben longe / and to reste vs / for your iourney is fynsshed with honour & worship” ( k2v). Arthur reads this as their resistance to temptation, “thenne sayd the kyng / ye saye trouthe / and for to tempte god it is no wysedome / And therfore make you redy and retorne we into Englond,” but it seems just as much an expression of an internal change reflecting the unity between secular and spiritual law, which Arthur makes plain in a proclamation: “And after lycene gyuen he retorned and commaunded that noo man in payne of dethe shold not robbe ne take vytaylle / ne other thynge by the way but that he shold paye therfore” ( k2v). Where Godfrey’s crusaders rarely restrain themselves in the lands they traverse, Arthur’s law specifically sets a restraint on pillaging. In Godfrey the physical body allowed an unbridling of moral law; for Arthur, it grants an appropriation of ecclesiastical sanction to the monarch. The themes of interpretation and conversion o±er a way into the final work in Caxton’s Worthies Series, The Lyf of the Noble and Crysten Prynce, Charles the Grete. Originally compiled by Jean Bagnyon of Lau-

224 p r i n t a n d s o c i a l o r g a n i z at i o n

Kuskin Ch 5

11/15/07

9:33 AM

Page 225

sanne, Charles the Grete, in Caxton’s version, is composed of three books. The first and the last are drawn from the Mireur historial, a French version of Vincent of Beauvais’ Speculum historiale; these bracket the second book with a history of France beginning with Troy and ending with Charles’s death. A prose version of the twelfth- or thirteenth-century chanson de geste, Fierabras, this second book is itself composed of three parts, each of which contains a conversion scene. Conversion brings the literal and spiritual together in ways that evaded Godfrey, and in Charles the Grete these conversions trace an exploration of the secular subject across its plot, for like the two other texts Charles the Grete is also engaged with reading the body; it is less interested, however, in using allegory to describe the male and female secular subject than it is in romance. In a sense, this exchange announces the work’s conclusion: in order to describe the individual subject in secular terms that account for doctrine as well as politics, Charles the Grete argues that social relations must be imagined through chivalric heroes rather than generated from an abstract allegorical engagement, however historicized. Ultimately, Charles the Grete defines the individual through a hegemonic and univocal form of desire rooted in the masculine gaze. “Homosociality appears here as a generative phenomenon, working through time as well as through the living to make networks of power, knowledge, and pleasure,” write Louise Fradenburg and Carla Freccero, concluding, “Caxton’s work thus suggests that the interweaving of past, present, and future is crucial to the memorialization and reproduction of bonds between men.”45 If Charles the Grete achieves greater closure regarding the individual subject’s relationship to doctrinal and political authority than either Godfrey of Boloyne or Le Morte D’Arthur, it does so by being more rigid, leaving less imaginary space separate from an ideal of secular, masculine, and noble authority. In part one of the Fierabras section, Fierabras, a Saracen prince, arrives in France and challenges Charles’s peers to combat. While this challenge would seem to a¤rm the boundaries between Christian self and Saracen other, it instead reveals fissures within the French court. Rather than pulling the peers together in the service of their king, for example, the challenge initially inspires a violent division between Charles and Roland, one in which Roland finally announces he would rather see Charles “confused and dysmembred” than represent him in combat (c1v ). Eventually Oliver takes up the challenge and, ill and wounded from

c a x t o n ’ s wo rt h i e s s e r i e s 225

Kuskin Ch 5

11/15/07

9:33 AM

Page 226

previous battles, he is a hero reflecting this debilitated corporate body. As the battle between Oliver and Fierabras commences, Charles rails against the churches of France, promising to burn them to the ground if Oliver loses, “for I swere by the soule of my fader / that yf he be now slayn of thys paynym / that neuer in fraunce in ony chirche shal clerke ne preest be reuseted ne enhabyted / but I shal do brenne monasteryes chyrches / aulters & crucyfyxes” (d1v–d2), echoing the Saracen leader’s later threats against his own gods. Fierabras’s challenge exposes how the male body is defined—and divided—by age, strength, and institutional power struggles. If Fierabras’s challenge brings out the ruptures within Charles’s court, the first conversion scene suggests that the prerogatives of this court are limited to brute force. This scene is actually the source— through the alliterative Morte Arthure—for Caxton’s version of Gawain’s encounter with Priamus; here, however, it ends with much less closure.46 During the melee, Fierabras disarms Oliver and o±ers him his sister Floripas’s hand in marriage if he will renounce Christianity. Oliver responds by taking Fierabras’s sword “named baptesme / whyche had the blade moche large and shone meruayllously” ( D5v). “Baptesme” seems to present an allegorical signifier capable of reasserting Christian spirituality over the foreign interloper, but like Charles’s court, Baptesme is limited to a physical dimension: though bearing an allegorical name, it has no special purchase on figural depth and, threatened with such, Fierabras undergoes only a physical change: “thenne whan Fyerabras sawe it / and had herde hym so speke / anone began to chaunge colour” ( D5v). When Oliver applies Baptesme, the blow causes a conversion entirely limited to Fierabras’s body: “Thus was Fyerabras hurte in suche manere / that almoost hys bowellys yssued oute of his bely” ( D6v). As in Godfrey, allegorical signification only produces a lack of spiritual resonance; here, however, Baptesme inspires in Fierabras such an awareness of this lack that he now demands spiritual conversion where he previously refused it: “For I shal byleue in the crysten fayth / & shal yelde the relyques for whyche ye be assemblyd and haue taken soo moche payne / And I swere to the that yf by thy defaute I dye sarasyn / I make the culpable of my dampnacyon” ( D6v). Godfrey’s violence could not access spiritual depth, and so figured the symbolic realm as entirely material. In turn, Fierabras charges Oliver to address this problem directly. Though the French court is not

226 p r i n t a n d s o c i a l o r g a n i z at i o n

Kuskin Ch 5

11/15/07

9:33 AM

Page 227

entirely neglectful of their faith—both Charles and Oliver make long prayers, Oliver repeatedly entreats Fierabras to convert before the battle, and an angel even reassures Charles of Oliver’s victory—it seems to have no way of discussing authority beyond physical strength. The end result is a confusion of identity that hits upon the common humanity between Muslim and Christian that the characters in Godfrey refused to acknowledge. Indeed, in many ways Fierabras has a more extensive relationship to Christianity than the French peers: not only does he possess Baptesme, he also has “two flagons” of the holy “bawme . . . whyche your god was enbawmed wyth whan he was taken doun fro the crosse” (C6v), and, though arrogant, he is far less so than Roland, and graciously shares these waters with Oliver. This similarity between Christian and Muslim is furthered by a sudden plot twist in which Oliver dons Fierabras’s armor and, with a handful of French peers, is captured by thousands of invading Saracen troops. Thus the very problem that suspends Fierabras’s conversion blurs Oliver’s appearance and thrusts him into the Saracen world. One mortally wounded, the other ambiguously attired, neither able to approach the spiritual aspect of baptism, Fierabras and Oliver are caught in a disjointed secular realm defined by its physicality. Fierabras is a story of the limits of the corporal, limits at which heroes stand for fractioned political systems, swords personify religious practices without a spiritual dimension, and secular Christian is indistinguishable from Saracen. Part 1 of Charles the Grete cannot achieve its own resolution because it is, as Roland wished Charles, “confused and dysmembred” by its physical trappings. Part 2 opens with Fierabras’s baptism by the archbishop of Turpin and Naimes. Resolving a loose end from part 1, this conversion sets the remainder of the work the task of providing a similar closure for the secular subject in general, a closure that is explored through two similar descriptions of the only female character in Charles the Grete, Floripas. After she rescues the peers from her father’s dungeon, Floripas is described in minute detail: This dougter was yonge & not maryed was wel comprysed of body / resonable of lengthe whyt & rody as rose in maye / hyr heyre was shynyng as the fyne golde/ & hir vysage termyned in lytel of lengthe / and hyr chere lawhyng / hyr eyen clere as fawcon mued / &

c a x t o n ’ s wo rt h i e s s e r i e s 227

Kuskin Ch 5

11/15/07

9:33 AM

Page 228

sparklyng lyke ij sterres / the vysage had she deuysed moche egally / her nose strayt whiche was wel seemly / the ij browes whiche were aboue the eyen appyeryng made shadowe / hyr chekys rounde whyt as the flour delys a lytel tyssued with reed / & Vnder the nose was her mouth roundette enhaunced in competent space fro the chynne al wel proporcyoned to the remenaunte of the hede / with litel sholdres strayte & egalle / & tofore aboue the gyrdle hir pappes were reysed after the facyon of ij apples rounde and euen as the coppe of a litel montayn. (e3r–v) The passage exaggerates part 1’s emphasis on the physical by portraying Floripas entirely through objects.47 That it uses these objects to suggest desire pushes the French court’s problematic reliance on physical definition to its sinful implications of sexual promiscuity. The result is that in Floripas the desire for food and sexual desire are interchangeable: “her pappes were reysed after the facyon of ij apples” is a description that not only focuses the reader’s attention on her body as sexualized, but also describes her as a living embodiment of desire for food. This relationship can only be so because both are carnal and material. Further, Floripas not only embodies this desire, but her representation of it is satisfying itself: “florypes was so fayre wyth hyr abyllements / that yf a persone had fasted iij or iiij dayes with out etyng / & he myght see hyr he shold be replenysshed & fylled” (e3v); the first thing she does for the knights after freeing them is feed them and, having fed them, suggests, “Loo here [are] vj maydens of grete noblesse / Eche of you take one for hys owne / for the better to passe wyth the tyme” (e5v). In Godfrey food is di¤cult to come by: it must either be paid for or taken by force, and its scarcity is occasion for Bohemond’s most profane secular reading. In Charles, Floripas’s relationship to the physical is continually enabling, which the plot goes out of its way to demonstrate: driven by her love for Guy of Burgundy she frees the peers from prison by clubbing a porter to death, and masks their escape by heaving her own governess out a window. Later, in part 3, Floripas and the peers are besieged in the tower by Balan; during the height of their starvation she suggests, “I can not say at thys tyme none other thynge / but that we lede the moost Ioyous lyf that we may, as longe as we shal mowe edure. Ye haue here fayre maydens, eche of you take one at hys playsyr” (g7v). Where the French court is embroiled in in-

228 p r i n t a n d s o c i a l o r g a n i z at i o n

Kuskin Ch 5

11/15/07

9:33 AM

Page 229

ternal factionalism that the material manifestations of authority cannot resolve, Floripas presents an escape from these problems through the physical. Embodying and satisfying desire, she describes the secular subject as organized by the carnal; taken with Caxton’s use of the French prologue, her characterization suggests that the secular individual need not be subject to any authority beyond the body, that such a person can be “better content” in a world without doctrine at all. Soon after the initial description of Floripas, Bagnyon enters the work and tries to interpret her behavior in a way that will maintain some semblance of doctrinal authority. First, he appeals to gender: “alle this toucheth wel the desyre & wylle of wymmen for to knowe newe thynges and tydynges” (e5v). Mystifying Floripas’s willingness to facilitate and satisfy as an expression of the “wylle of wymmen,” of feminine curiosity, this explanation brings him little closer to doctrinal meaning. He then turns to the larger requirements of his narrative, its truth value as “the werke of a man wel approued” (e6), and its claims to spirituality: “and wyth good ryght he that fyghteth for the fayth / and it happe that he be deteyned / the mercy of god is nyghe for to delyuer hym” (e6). Yet Christianity is part of the problem in this work, one the Fierabras story has failed to incorporate adequately since its opening, and the narrative’s fantasy of indulgence can hardly be seen as a demonstration of faith. Finally, Bagnyon attempts to contain Floripas’s desire as a performance of law: “The cause wherfore they were delyuerd fro pryson was come fro ferre/ that was of rome for guy of bourgoyne [who is now among the French peers] whome she had in loue / and was contente for to be baptysed and byleue in god for to haue the sayd guy in maryage to hyr husbond” (e6). But Floripas continually o±ers satisfaction prior to institutional sanction; her promise is to fulfill desire without the consequences of doctrinal law, and so Bagnyon throws up his hands: “wherfore it may not wel be comprysed how loue in thys damoysel was fyxed and comprysed of longe a±ectyon” (e6). Though Bagnyon presents Floripas’s “longe a±ectyon” as a sort of frustrating crux, he finds this frustration worth repeating in the third part of Caxton’s text. In chapter 9, he lingers over the inexplicable nature of female desire: “¶But it is grete scyence for to eschewe the wylle of a woman / whan by e±ecte she putteth hyr entente to a thynge that her hert dyrectly draweth / and taketh no regarde to the ende of her

c a x t o n ’ s wo rt h i e s s e r i e s 229

Kuskin Ch 5

11/15/07

9:33 AM

Page 230

entente / but onely that she may achyeue hyr enterpryse and determynacyon” (f4r–v). In this second reading Bagnyon returns to his first and most mystified explanation—gender—because it locates discursive complexity—this “grete scyence”—in the bedrock of materiality, answering the complex implications of subjective depth in the most superficial way. Thus Bagnyon simultaneously denies Floripas conscious intentionality (“her hert dyrectly draweth, and taketh no regarde to the ende of her entente”), yet insists she has a sort of physical agency that allows her to accomplish her “enterpryse and determynacyon.” If this reading of Floripas merely repeats the emphasis on her physicality, it also argues that a woman can be read completely through her body without a more complex theoretical apparatus, and that this too demonstrates a form of subjection to a greater authority, the authority of male desire. Presented at the end of part 3, the second description of Floripas’s body elaborates this process of reading through her conversion to Christianity. By this point, Charles has finally arrived in Spain, rescued his peers, and o±ered to let Balan, the Saracen ruler and the father of Floripas and Fierabras, live if he agrees to convert. Balan responds by spitting in the baptismal font and attempting to drown the archbishop, who is only narrowly saved by one of the peers. The scene thus replays Fierabras’s second conversion to emphasize the nobility’s role as enabling a representative of the Church in the completion of an ecclesiastical practice. Balan refuses conversion and, after being condemned to death by Floripas, is killed. With this, the narrative attention shifts from Balan to Floripas, who agrees to be converted in order to marry Guy of Burgundy. It is here that the work repeats her description, beginning, “she beyng there al naked shewed hyr beaute whyche was ryght whyte and wel formed so playsaunt and amerouse for the formosyte of hyr persone that euery man merueylled” (k3v). Gazing at Floripas’s nakedness, the French nobility engage in a reading of her body. On one level, they marvel because the baptism represents Floripas’s turn away from her own family and faith as a turn toward Christianity. On this level Floripas’s baptism marks the division between Christian and Saracen in ways the brute force represented by Baptesme could not; this contrast is highlighted by the fact that although Baptesme “shone meruayllously” when Oliver first wielded it, it still failed to complete the process of conversion. On a second level, they marvel because Floripas’s submergence in the baptismal waters not

230 p r i n t a n d s o c i a l o r g a n i z at i o n

Kuskin Ch 5

11/15/07

9:33 AM

Page 231

only enacts her subjection to them, it also immerses them in their own desire. The description ends, “And so wel was she made and so amerouse / that she smote the hertes of many / and enflammed theyr entencyon wyth concupyscence / and specyally of charles the Emperour / how wel that he was auncyen & olde” ( k4). As in Bagnyon’s own interpretation, desire appears to emanate from a mystified female source and moves outward, overcoming the heart and enflaming male intention. The result is that the peers lose control of their own bodies. Yet this loss of control is less an abandonment of power than a demonstration of it, a demonstration that presents the male subject’s desire as an external force—indeed a force within Floripas. If the subjection to concupiscence is the work’s continual theme, the peers read it here as evidence that all individuals are subjected to forces outside their own control, thus delineating the limits of the secular subject in the demonstration of masculine power and authority. Reading Floripas figures sexuality as a symbolic layer of the material world that emerges through a Christian event, the conversion. Ultimately, Floripas’s baptism is marvelous because it constructs her turn toward Christianity as a simultaneous turn toward an erotic reading of the material world. This addresses the problems of part 1 in sequence: it resolves Fierabras’s initial threat by placing the other, both the Saracen and the female, within the male gaze; it specifically relaxes the tension between age and youth by testifying to Charles’s virility beyond his “auncyen & olde” age; it incorporates ecclesiastical practice into secular organization by setting it as a staging area for erotic desire; finally, it casts this overwhelmingly carnal moment as a precursor to marriage, exhibiting it but also containing it. Thus the work’s interests in political factionalism, in cultural and religious di±erence, in gender, telescope toward an ideology that equates a specific form of male desire with the natural disposition of the material world. It describes the individual as the subject of desire, and as carnal as this may seem, it is also a point of doctrine: in Romans, the work so important to Caxton’s prologue to Charles the Grete, Paul discusses the body as a site of contest between literal allegiances to sin and spiritual allegiances to God: “For I delight in the law of God in my inmost self, but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind, making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members” (7:22–23). Law makes sin recognizable but in doing so also brings death: “I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment

c a x t o n ’ s wo rt h i e s s e r i e s 231

Kuskin Ch 5

11/15/07

9:33 AM

Page 232

came, sin revived and I died, and the very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me” (7:9–10). Limiting and killing, law acknowledges desire in a supplementary relationship that restructures definitions between life and death based on physicality. Including the description of Floripas as a main feature, Caxton’s newfangled text encourages his readers to marvel at the evidence of masculine desire and power. Thus Charles brings the Worthies Series to a close by resolving the problems of Godfrey—the obsession with food that stands in for a larger spiritual hunger—through the noble and heterosexual male, in ways that are much more insistent on the place of the secular subject than Le Morte D’Arthur’s somewhat ambivalent newfangledness. Caxton pioneered and carried out a powerful critical program for linking printed material with a social imaginary. He was not alone in this work. Indeed, the logic of his critical program, its reliance on participation and appropriation, would suggest that once in place it could operate as a structure for other printers as well. And so it did: John Lettou issued a number of indulgences for a crusade in the 1480s, all commissioned by John Kendale.48 These were followed in 1482 by The Siege of Rhodes, a fifteenth-century work by Guillaume Caoursin and translated by the poet laureate John Kay which was, by best estimates, printed by Lettou during his partnership with William de Machlinia. This edition is fronted by Kay’s original prologue, which stakes Kay’s authority as poet laureate and calls for a renewed crusade. In this last point, Kay’s preface echoes Caxton’s prologue to Godfrey: “whiche thyng ys token to all crysten prynces here after to recouer the partyes crysten” (unsigned 1v). In a further similarity to Godfrey, The Siege of Rhodes is a historical siege narrative. It too emphasizes the provisioning of besieged cities, the entrenchment of guns, the gathering of victuals, and the duplicitousness of traitors. And in the city’s towers and castles named after saints, it too creates a topography laden with biblical reference. And it is also a “merueyllous history,” for though much of Kay’s energies are spent detailing Muslim siege engines and Christian countermeasures, he finds the siege’s resolution in the miraculous: And anon after the turkes saw properly in the myddest of the clene and bryght eyer / a crosse all of shynyng gold : & also sawe a bryght vyrgyne : whiche had in her hande agaynes the oste of the turkes a

232 p r i n t a n d s o c i a l o r g a n i z at i o n

Kuskin Ch 5

11/15/07

9:33 AM

Page 233

spere and a shylde :and in that syght also apired a man clothed in pouer and vyle araye : which was accompanyed wyth grete nombre of fayr and welbesene men in armes : as yf they wold haue comen downe to the helpe of Rhodes . (unsigned, 21v–22) Significantly, Kay moves directly from the description of the visionary to its explication. The passages continues, By the crosse of golde we may justely understande oure saueour Ihesu cryste . And by the vyrgyne we may understande / oure lady the blessed marie . And by the man pouerly clothed we may vndersande the holy seynte Iohn baptyste Patron and auowre of the order of Rhodes (unsigned, 22) Here everything is carefully parsed for the reader: the cross represents Christ; the virgin, Mary; and the man, John the Baptist. The emphasis on the imaginary in Caxton’s prologue to Charles the Grete, the tentativeness about deciding upon history in Le Morte D’Arthur, the allegorical in Godfrey of Boloyne, and the visionary in the Siege of Rhodes are all methods of appealing to a level of explanation beyond the literal in order to underwrite secular “enterprises.” Yet as much as the preface to The Siege of Rhodes is so clearly a political statement, it is also involved in the broad assertion of vernacular literary authority, which it makes though Kay’s presentation of himself. It opens, “[ T]o the moste excellente / moste redoubted and moste crysten kyng:Kyng Edward the fourth John kay hys humble poete lawreate / and moste lowly seruant:knelyng vnto the ground sayth salute” (unsigned, 1). Further, Kay’s preface makes the same linkage between reading and pleasure as Charles the Grete: “wherfor what so euer frute or pleasur your peple shal in thys my studies finde they shal yelde glorye to god” (unsigned, 1v). Vernacular literacy here operates as a complex expression: it is capable of bringing joy and of recognizing spiritual power. The preface thus joins these two lines of authority—the political and the literary—together within Kay’s identity as a poet laureate. Though Lettou and de Machlinia’s printing operations, as well as Kay’s output, are largely considered minor in comparison with Caxton’s work, The Siege of Rhodes is important in its own right, for Kay’s address is directly to the king. Taken with the remaining evidence pointing to

c a x t o n ’ s wo rt h i e s s e r i e s 233

Kuskin Ch 5

11/15/07

9:33 AM

Page 234

Caxton’s role as the king’s printer and to Lettou and de Machlinia’s various jobs for the royal house, Kay’s Siege of Rhodes moves the development of a vernacular political apparatus associated with print up to the end of the Yorkist period, clearly complicating any clean-cut sense of a break with the Tudor ascension. One challenge that faced Caxton in installing print was to make plain the symbolic meaning within the secular text. His overall critical program responds to this challenge by paralleling texts that call for overt political action with romances that demonstrate the urgency of such action in their plots. The plots of these texts themselves demonstrate modes of secular interpretation that reach toward symbolic meaning. This process by definition impinges on the nature of interpretative authority; in e±ect it asks who has possession over textual interpretation. And so the Worthies texts enact a process of secular reading in which kings and emperors, warlords and poet laureates prove themselves canny readers of the material world. Speaking to a social body unified by their complicit involvement in English polity, these texts address them as readers, and tell them that their complicity creates a dangerous type of political instability that is nevertheless natural and unavoidable. Thus the texts connect the material and immaterial and, by implication, argue for a symbolic system that they never make overt.

Caxton inherited much from Burgundian, French, and English literary culture. This statement of fact, however, neglects his careful discursive presentation of his works. For Caxton’s Worthies Series, as well as John Lettou and William de Machlinia’s print operations, demonstrates that various genres of print production could be productively intertwined within a particularly English sense of identity. Thus the series thematically ties the lucrative market for indulgence printing to the more ambitious undertaking of printing prose romances. This marriage of literature and politics is a particular form of propaganda that organizes secular enterprises by appealing to the imagination. The Worthies Series presents this imaginary logic as tied up in self-reflection; thus Caxton’s prologues and the very plots of his series continually revisit the process of reading and interpreting. Premised on his audience’s participation in the construction of authority—their seemingly spontaneous demand for another Worthy text—Caxton’s production of literature is not merely me-

234 p r i n t a n d s o c i a l o r g a n i z at i o n

Kuskin Ch 5

11/15/07

9:33 AM

Page 235

chanical and technological; it is carefully strategized to define his readers as an audience. In this, Caxton’s critical program constructs a unified literary culture so appropriate to the social conditions of the late fifteenth century as to appear inseparable from those conditions, while simultaneously being productive in itself, developing a symbolic space in which to define individuals as participating in a larger imaginary community as secular subjects. This observation questions two powerfully entrenched clichés about the development of the English state: that the Tudor dynasty alone instigated an understanding of print propaganda, and that late fifteenth-century literary culture was entirely decentralized.

c a x t o n ’ s wo rt h i e s s e r i e s 235

Kuskin Ch 6

11/15/07

9:35 AM

Page 236

Chapter Six

Vernacular Humanism Fifteenth-Century Self-Fashioning and the State-Crowned Laureates

The late development of English humanism is taken to be a marker of cultural insularity. Caxton produces two texts that superficially illustrate this view, the 1480 Methamorphose and 1490 Eneydos (STC 24796). Rather than presenting a philological return to the classical past, Caxton prints existing redactions, the Ovide Moralisé and the Livre des Eneydes, and in contrast to printers such as Conrad Sweynheym and Arnold Pannartz, Johannes Mentelin, Nicolas Jenson, and Aldus Manutius, who recovered classical works, developed roman type, and used unique book sizes to evoke physically the intellectual nature of humanism, Caxton presents his texts according to his established standard aesthetic. And so Caxton appears irredeemably medieval, of a piece with a culture that, as J. B. Trapp has recently written, “was still sunk in the darkness of scholasticism.”1 Yet Caxton is profoundly interested in humanist scholarship, and if his texts recall his style overall, they also actively place Virgil and Ovid in the context of the English poetry of Chaucer, Lydgate, and Skelton. I term this link between the classical past and the English present vernacular humanism and argue that it is no less paradoxical than the rest of Caxton’s literary culture: sixteenth-century English humanism would look for moral direction in an educational program based in classical Latin; in contrast, fifteenth-century vernacular humanism contains a deep ambivalence about the solace inherent in such good forms. If 236

Kuskin Ch 6

11/15/07

9:35 AM

Page 237

fifteenth-century humanism appears less assured than the sixteenthcentury derivation, this is not because it is unselfconsciously sunk in darkness so much as it is because of the haze of self-knowing that characterizes the literary culture overall.2 Caxton and his peers seek to make the classical vulgar, to articulate methods of appropriating the authority of the past toward a public and political application in the present, a laureate system. One example of vernacular humanism in England before the Tudor period is readily available in the English statesman John Russell.3 A doctor of civil law from New College, Russell was promoted through a series of positions to bishop of Lincoln and chancellor of Oxford University. Able to withstand the changes in rule across this decade, he became a significant adviser to Henry VII.4 Russell’s interest in humanist books throughout his career is well documented: in 1467 he acted, with Caxton, as a diplomat in the Burgundian negotiations discussed in chapter 2, and during this trip he bought a Sammelband of Fust and Schoe±er’s 1466 editions of Cicero’s De officiis and Paradoxa, one of the first known English acquisitions of printed books. During this trip he also purchased a manuscript copy of Cicero’s Epistolae ad familiars, London Lambeth Palace Library, MS 765,5 and he owned at least ten manuscripts and nine printed volumes overall, including copies of Mentelin’s edition of Virgil and Johannes Herbort’s five-volume edition of Baldus’s commentaries. Further, he seems to have been particularly aware of print: his 1470 speech on Charles the Bold’s entrance to the Order of the Garter was one of the first texts Caxton printed in England, the Propositio (STC 21458), and as Richard III’s chancellor he was apparently involved in appending the famous proviso concerning the book trade to the 1484 act against the Italians, an act presented in the first-ever printed statute in England, produced by William de Machlinia.6 Russell’s writing suggests he read his books and applied their knowledge to his current situation. Specifically, after Edward IV ’s death, Russell became protector of Edward V and as such was to open the new king’s first Parliament with a coronation address.7 Apparently not foreseeing the events of the very near future, Russell finished a speech for an event that never came. Preserved in two manuscripts, Cotton Vitellius E.x. and Cotton Cleopatra E.III, Russell’s drafts demonstrate his reading: Martin Lowry points out a 1478 edition of Plutarch’s Lives printed by Jenson

v e r n a c u l a r h u m a n i s m 237

Kuskin Ch 6

11/15/07

9:35 AM

Page 238

that contains Russell’s notes for the address,8 and Russell also cites “the booke of Boccase De casibus,” which he owned in Oxford, New College MS 263.9 Overall, the speech is learned and bookish, one of occasion and allusion, a hybrid of biblical, contemporary, and classical references which shows Russell applying literary authority to English polity. Thus, his interest in books is neither sudden nor superficial; rather it is part of a larger literary culture of international manuscript and printed book buying and reading.10 This literary culture was deeply engaged with political self-fashioning, and we can see this too in Russell’s coronation address. The centerpiece of Russell’s first speech, borrowed from his volume of Plutarch, is the likening of the English Parliament to the Roman Senate. On June 26, however, Richard occupied the King’s Bench at Westminster, and thus Russell’s original speech lost its motivating occasion. During this time Richard’s party engaged in a powerful propaganda campaign, fielding speeches by Buckingham at the Guildhall, by Ralph Sha ( brother of the mayor of London, Edmund Sha) at St. Paul’s Cross, and by others throughout the city which insisted that Edward IV’s marriage to Elizabeth Woodville was invalid due to a precontract with Eleanor Buttler, that Edward V was a bastard, that Elizabeth was a concubine and a sorceress, and that, since Clarence’s death, only Richard could rightly claim the throne.11 Richard’s first Parliament was convened on January 23, 1484, and Russell, still chancellor, was again responsible for an opening address. And so he revised. Contained only in MS Cotton Vitellius E.x., the revisions are disordered, constituting two or three drafts of a speech in two hands.12 Punctuated by lacunae and halting, the new version sets out to talk about the body politic, but weaves into this theme the consequences of the fall, which “we see by experience that the usualle brusere of bodyes [com]ythe by falling, and that the person ys yn most danger to falle, which ys blynd, or walkethe yn derkenesse” ( lii). Thus Russell adopts the new party line, accusing Edward IV of leading England into darkness. As chancellor Russell oversaw the charges against Edward entered into public record as the Act for the Settlement of the Crown.13 Recorded in the parliamentary rolls, this act itemizes Edward’s sins, concluding, “the ordre of all poletique Rule was perverted” in an e±ort “into removyng the occasion of doubtes and ambiguitees, and to all other laufull efect that shal mowe therof ensue.”14 Where the act blatantly asserts Edward’s perversion and openly seeks to eliminate ambiguity, Russell’s draft 238 p r i n t a n d s o c i a l o r g a n i z at i o n

Kuskin Ch 6

11/15/07

9:35 AM

Page 239

enters into “the depe serche of mannys conscience” to ask “what ys thys light?” This, in turn, leads him through questions of blindness and lack of sight into a somewhat obscure discussion of the spherical nature of the human eye (“the fyguracion of the ie ys sperik and rownde”). The right and left eyes, according to Russell, illustrate the relationship between understanding and a±ection, symmetry and monstrosity, light and darkness, but this distinction only leads him straight into a discussion of the rhetoric of hypocrisy: It were no longe a digression, and yet peraventure hyt were to the purpose, to shew by alle the fetes of them that hath most guydynge of thys grete body of Englonde, howe their ie, be hyt the ie of undirstondynge or elles of a±eccion, ys wykked and double. Lat yt su¤ce, besyd the causes that be yn honed, where of at thys tyme noo man ys ygnoraunte, that undir the colour of administracion of justice, by favour of syche o±ycers as make the panell, ofte tymes there ys more vengeable wronge committed thorowe fals informacion sene accepted theyn y± the swerde were drawen. Thus ie may wele be called a double ie, pursuing openly yn apparence for justice, and undir that convertly of purpensed entent doynge that us most unjustice. ( lv–vi) Applied to the charge that Edward perverted the realm, the passage is straightforward enough in that it argues the former king guided the great body of England falsely, by a±ection and not by understanding. Yet where the act of Parliament dispels “doubts and ambiguities,” Russell’s argument is that regardless of which eye guides (“be hit the ye of understanding or else of a±ection”), guidance is susceptible to “false information.” And so he defines the double eye as a marker of sight and blindness, of hypocrisy, and plunges his audience into this predicament. Russell’s is a quality of self-reflection endemic to fifteenth-century letters. His strength, indeed his moral clarity, is, ironically, to recognize how human complicity leads to ambiguity but at the same time to use his international reading to suggest a way out of blindness. Here he draws, as he tells us, from the Gospel of Luke: But nowe a remedie. This remedie agaynste derkenesse ys no thinge ellys but a provision of lyghte, be hyt that abody wollde passe surely v e r n a c u l a r h u m a n i s m 239

Kuskin Ch 6

11/15/07

9:35 AM

Page 240

yn hys journey, or ellys bye goode and diligent serche attende to fynde that that he hathe loste. We who have somwhat touched the derke way that menne have walked yn; late us see whethyr we have ony thyng loste that wolde be soughte and fownde agayne. ( lxii) Russell imagines an England that has fallen into blindness and emphasizes a mutual complicity in this error: “at this time no man is ignorant,” he announced in the earlier passage, and here it is “we” who have erred. In Russell’s drafts, then, darkness is not the stereotyped notion of medieval ignorance characteristic of some sort of “dark ages.” Rather, it is the darkness of self-knowledge. In a moment of rhetorical clarity amidst courtly eloquence—“but nowe a remedie”— Russell proposes a passage through this “derke way,” but this is only to probe further into the problem (“diligent serche attende to fynde that that he hathe loste”). Thus, I read Russell’s question “what ys thys lyghte?” as in inquiry into human hypocrisy, a public moral reflection projected onto a view of history that would reach for the Roman past as a model for the English present and rationalize moral perception with the physical perception of light. Yet— “Hypocrite lecteur—mon semblable,—mon frére!”—the passage participates in exactly the rhetorical manipulations that it decries. For if Russell styles himself a naïf, a man honestly grappling with the traumatic events of a monarchy in flux, he is no less a career bureaucrat—and a survivor at that—and so his urgency cannot be read as transparent; rather it pulls us back to Caxton’s pamphlet edition of the Curial published the same year to realize the same double bind of recognition and complicity in a more political setting. We may not like Russell’s prose and—finding in it an odd mixture of pedantic density and righteous furor—we may ultimately choose to pass it by, but if we label it easily moralized and insular, uncalculated and unlearned, we have failed to read it at all. The terms of Russell’s speech—its concern with darkness and light, the interest in the eye as both clear and clouded, the presence of doubleness in English culture—appear throughout Caxton’s Eneydos, and in this chapter I argue that Caxton’s text presents such sensibilities in print to apply literary authority outward to the contemporary political scene. I read this process in two parts. First, I read the Eneydos as charting a history of writing through the character of Dido. “Dido presents a model of working that reverses classical models of fame and tradition,” writes Jennifer Summit, and it is in this sense that Dido reverses the humanist em240 p r i n t a n d s o c i a l o r g a n i z at i o n

Kuskin Ch 6

11/15/07

9:35 AM

Page 241

phasis on writing as an ideal, to make it tangible, of a piece with Caxton’s sense of the text as monumental, a material form capable of transcending history.15 Caxton’s apparently unprinted Ovyde his booke of Methamorphose presents a similar view of the pagan woman as a text to be edited, and by reading the two texts against one another we are better able to see the ambivalence contained in literary authority, as well as the cogency of Caxton’s view. The second part of the chapter turns to Caxton’s prologue to the Eneydos. Exploring the Troy myth, vernacular translation, and textual production, this prologue is in many ways a return to the themes of his Recuyell. Printed at the end of his career, it makes this return in terms that highlight the increasing English interest in a culture of scholarly expertise. Here Caxton parallels his translation of the text to John Skelton’s search for a new poetic style through a reference to the young poet laureate’s elegy on the Earl of Northumberland, killed during an uprising in York. By referencing Skelton’s elegy Caxton places the Eneydos in the context of Henry’s increasingly systematic deployment of literary authority as a method of asserting monarchical power, the laureate system. Rather than sunk in ignorant darkness, he recognizes his cultural situation as historical and social; against the threat of ignorance—a threat he finds not in some sort of totality known as the “medieval” but, like Russell, in cultural crisis—he places scholarly authority and class structure. Caxton’s Eneydos is therefore both retrospective, pulling together a number of his longtime interests—the history of the book, the relationship between gender and literary production, and the crafting of persona— and forward looking. Combining the two fundamental aspects of humanism—its scholarly claim to the past and its assertion of literary authority in the political present—his work with the press, his promotion of classical authors, his familiarity with Continental scholars, his discussion of the social value of reading, as well as the output of early English printers during the 1470s, 1480s, and 1490s, demonstrates English vernacular humanism: a vibrant, international laureate system centered in the court and moving outward to define English culture.

Dido Overdetermined The traditional assessment of Caxton’s classical texts parallels that of his romances. So, following N. F. Blake, Diane Bornstein, and Gordon v e r n a c u l a r h u m a n i s m 241

Kuskin Ch 6

11/15/07

9:35 AM

Page 242

Kipling, modern scholars have attributed Caxton’s interest in Virgil to his general importation of Burgundian culture. Viewed in this light, Caxton’s Eneydos is entirely derivative, the static reproduction of a medieval literary tradition that is already being overtaken by new Continental trends. That Caxton’s tenure in the Low Countries influenced his understanding of classical themes is unquestionable: the Recuyell of the Histories of Troye (STC 15375) and Jason (STC 15383) are among his earliest texts, and he found them in Burgundy, printed them in French and English, and used his prologues to link them to the Burgundian court; Caxton’s onetime partner in Bruges, Colard Mansion, translated, printed, and was apparently bankrupted by his 1484 edition of the Ovide Moralisé. By the time Caxton turns to the Ovide Moralisé in 1480, however, he is no longer referencing the Burgundian court, and that his source is to be found in Burgundian libraries is not a fact he highlights. Indeed, the English print market of the late 1470s and 1480s is quite interested in humanist printed books. For example, in 1478 Caxton printed the humanist Stephano Surigonus’s epitaph to Chaucer at the end of the Consolation of Philosophy (STC 3199), and he subsequently printed a number of Latin texts prepared by Italian humanists living in England: Laurentius Traversanus’s 1479 Nova rhetorica (STC 24188.5; reissued in an abridged version as the 1480 Epitome, STC 24190.3); Petrus Carmelianus’s 1484 edition of Pope Sixtus IV’s letters, the Sex epistolae (STC 22588); Antonius Mancinellus’s 1487 revised version of the grammar, Donatus melior (STC 7013); and Johannes de Gigliis’s 1480, 1481, and 1489 indulgences (STC 14077c.112–15).16 The general wholesale attribution of fifteenth-century English literary interests to Burgundy and France has the e±ect of forestalling modernity, necessitating a claim to historical rupture to explain its appearance in the sixteenth century. Reread in the context of an English vernacular humanism, Caxton’s reproduction of the Eneydos takes on a more powerful role in the construction of literary culture. In fact, Caxton was not the only printer involved in the print market for classical authors and humanist scholarship. In 1483 Theodoric Rood and Thomas Hunte in Oxford printed Vulgaria quedam abs Terencio in Anglica[m] linguam traducta (STC 23904 ), an interlinear translation of Terence for the English reader. With this text they seem to have hit upon a solid product: de Machlinia printed a copy of the Vulgaria in 1483 (STC 23905) and reprinted it in 1485 (STC 23906); Gerard Leeu of Antwerp

242 p r i n t a n d s o c i a l o r g a n i z at i o n

Kuskin Ch 6

11/15/07

9:35 AM

Page 243

printed an edition for importation to England in 1486 (STC 23907). The Vulgaria is neither a unique text nor an anomalous project for Rood and Hunte, and just as we saw de Machlinia building a specialty in law texts, they committed to classical titles: in 1479 they produced an edition of Aristotle’s Ethics (STC 752) and in 1485 an edition of Phalaris’s Epistolae ( Du± 348). Indeed, Rood and Hunte capitalized on the Vulgaria, for the signatures in their edition suggest it was intended to be bound with their edition of Magdalen schoolmaster John Anwykyll’s Compendium totius grammaticae (STC 696). Like the Vulgaria, Anwykyll’s Compendium was also picked up by Continental printers: by Richard Pa±roed in Deventer in 1489 ( Du± 30), and Heinrich Quentell in Cologne in 1492 ( Du± 31). Pynson too printed these titles, producing a more canonical collection of six of Terence’s works in 1497, Comoediae sex Andria, Eunuchus, Heauton timorumenos, Adelphoe, Phormio, Hecyra (STC 23885), and editions of Anwykyll’s Compendium in 1489 (STC 696.1) and 1505 (STC 696.3). Rood and Hunte also printed the Compendium with a separate register, perhaps for sale as an independent unit (STC 695), but the combined edition makes an explicit connection around vernacular humanism: grammar bound with text, Rood and Hunte deliver Terence with an apparatus for vernacular study. Packaging the two texts in a format that allows them to be sold separately or as a self-referential unit, they exploit the technology of the book to serve the market in manifold ways. The patterns of the English market tell neither of the simple importation of European texts nor of the slavish imitation of Continental trends. Rather they sketch out a coherent environment that features technologically complex products geared toward producing their readers as consumers. Caxton’s Eneydos accomplishes this same, autoexplanatory function for the history of the book. The Eneydos is a close translation of a manuscript version of the Livre des Eneydes. First printed in Lyons by Guillaume le Roys in 1483, the Livre des Eneydes draws its version of the Aeneid from the Historie ancienne jusqu’à César, a compilation of Greek, Theban, Trojan, and Roman histories recounted from creation, based on Virgil, and augmented by the Roman d’Eneas.17 The Eneydos is dominated by the Compiler’s sense of the contradiction between these sources, which he or she underscores at various points: “And firste to shewe the dy±erence of Iohn bochace and of vyrgyle. to putte in bryef the falle of the sayd dydo recounted by bochace / and after by the sayd virgyle” (B7). The version of

v e r n a c u l a r h u m a n i s m 243

Kuskin Ch 6

11/15/07

9:35 AM

Page 244

the story that the Compiler associates with Boccaccio develops from the Greek historian Timaeus (ca. 356 –260 B.C.), and in it, Dido never meets Aeneas but is a model of self-sacrifice for her state. This tradition enters Justin’s Epitoma historiarum Philippicarum Pompei Trogi in the second or third century B.C., and comes to the Livre des Eneydes through Laurent de Premierfait’s French translation of Boccaccio’s De casibus, Des cas des nobles hommes et femmes. The second Dido tradition represented in the Eneydos, in which Dido kills herself after Aeneas abandons her, originates with Aeneid IV.18 This focus on Dido as the turning point of the two traditions links the text of the Eneydos to Caxton’s prologue to the Methamorphose, which also presents a woman as a metaphor for the complexity of the text. In what follows I read the Eneydos’s juxtaposition of Boccaccio and Virgil in layers, moving through the text’s argument, to the model of interpretation proposed in Caxton’s prologue to the Methamorphose, and finally back to Dido’s transformation in order to trace a model for authorship, editing, and reading that is also a history of the book. In short, the Eneydos, and before that the Ovide Moralisé are interested in translating and appropriating classical authority in the larger consolidation of literary authority in print. The Eneydos’s comparison between its two Dido stories begins in earnest in chapter 6 with the Compiler’s first-person discussion of Boccaccio’s De casibus virorum illustrium. After describing how “that other daye in passing tyme I redde in the fall of noblys / of whom Johnnes bochace hath spoken & in brief we aduentures of fortune” (B7), the Compiler critiques Boccaccio for including Dido in his collection at all: “I was abasshed and had grete merueylle / how bochace whiche is an auctour so gretly renommed hath transposed or atte leste dyuersifyed the falle and caas otherwyse than vyrgyle hath in his fourth booke of Eneydos / In whiche he hath not rendred the reason / or made ony decysion to approue better the his than that other” (B7 v). Rather than comparing the two stories according to historical truth and poetic license, the Compiler argues that Boccaccio has “transposed or atte leste dyuersifyed” Virgil’s story and proceeds to argue that a feminist reading of Boccaccio’s Dido is indefensible: “And yf ony wolde excuse hym and saye that he hadde doon hit for better to kepe thonour of wymmen. And wolde not treate ne saye thynge of theym dyshoneste. but that myghte be to theyr auauncemente ¶ This reason hath noo place” (B7v). Instead of abandoning Boccaccio’s

244 p r i n t a n d s o c i a l o r g a n i z at i o n

Kuskin Ch 6

11/15/07

9:35 AM

Page 245

version, however, the Compiler continues to relate it, dilating on his rendition of the Phoenicians’ invention of writing. In fact, the Compiler finds the passage important enough to repeat it in both tellings of the Dido tale. In the first, the Compiler relates that writing is both within and beyond history: on the one hand, it simply makes the Phoenicians’ intentions known “to theyr frendis”; on the other, it records Phoenician history for “remembarunce perpetual” (B8). Thus, writing clarifies: it does so epistemologically by making history known and by articulating intention (“how be it that thauctour putte not precysely dedycte wythoute texte”), and it does so mechanically, in the way letters are di±erentiated (“carecteris dy±erencyng that one fro that other. of whiche were fourmed letters”). These two qualities are fused in the Phoenicians’ use of vermilion ink: “the fenyces fonde to note wyth rede colour or ynke firste the sayd lettres / of whiche our bokes ben gretely decorate. socoured & made fayr. We wryte the grete and firste capytall lettres of our volumes bookes and chapytres wyth the taynture of reed coloure” (B8). This practice finds its contemporary expression in the decorated letters of medieval manuscripts. In bearing a trace of the past in its material form, writing fulfills its historical sense through its very production, and in stressing the present’s participation in textual production (“our bokes . . . we wryte . . . our volumes”), the Compiler adds a third dimension to the written letter: the Phoenician red letter insists that the present writer’s textual production is an engagement with history, a reproduction of the traditions of the past in the present. The power of writing is manifold: on one layer it is a mechanical process of di±erentiation that facilitates the articulation of intention, on a second it is capable of communicating authorial intention to others across time, and on a third it engages with the present, connecting the two moments in time through the physical crafting of letters in ink. In this sense writing is never entirely original, never a break from the past, but is instead transcendent. So, the book is a symbolic object, not simply because it is constructed as meaningful by contemporary culture, but because its very letters make history manifest. The Compiler’s second rendition of this history of writing is similar to the first but pushes the argument so that Dido herself represents the history of writing. In chapter 22, in the midst of the Virgilian section, the Compiler retells the Phoenician origins of writing to include Cadmus,

v e r n a c u l a r h u m a n i s m 245

Kuskin Ch 6

11/15/07

9:35 AM

Page 246

whom he praises “to haue founde by subtyll artyfice suche a manere of waye that men may doo knowe all his wille & notyfie it to whome he will. by one symple lettre. be it nyghe or ferre. be it of peas or of were of amyte. or of eny other thing” (F5v). Cadmus’s role is relentlessly selfreflective, not only founding a process by which intentionality can be articulated “by one symple lettre,” but consciously planning to do so. The Compiler also reviews the Phoenicians’ use of color: “By cause that in that countrey were the pourpre clothes fyrst made and the coloure founde / We wryte yet in oure kalenders the hyghe festes wyth rede lettres of coloure of purpre / And the grete capitalle lettres of the bygynnynge and princypal of the psalmes and chapytres wythin oure bookes, ben alle mayde fayre ther wythalle” (F5v). Again, texts make the past immanent: ecclesiastical calendars, books of psalms, and more general lay books connect the origins of writing to the texts of the Middle Ages. This history is compressed into Dido’s very name, for “Dido,” the Compiler makes clear, is “otherwyse callyd or named Elysse or Fenyce” (B7v). The point is that authorship—the articulation of intention—is embedded in Dido’s identity and thus placed in relationship to gender. The Dido sections thus pull together a series of themes into a single representation. Initially, it suggests, as in “Myn Hert ys Set,” that feminism is a measure of writing. More broadly, it follows out Caxton’s overall interest in books as capable of withstanding time. Within this interest it specifically describes Dido as a figure representing such a history; she is, like the philosophers in Woodville’s Dictes and Sayings of the Philosophers or Amphyon of Lydgate’s Siege of Thebes, a human embodiment of writing. Amplified and repeated throughout the Eneydos, Dido is a sign for a system of signs that finds its referents not only in intention but in a symbolic history registered on the material page pointing back through time. The notion of a pagan woman as a sign for the historical relationship of signs also appears in the prologue to Caxton’s translation of the Ovide Moralisé, Ovyde his booke of Methamorphose. Written between 1316 and 1328 by an anonymous Franciscan friar, the Ovide Moralisé includes exegetical readings directly within its translation of Ovid’s work. The only remaining version of Caxton’s text is the two-volume manuscript held at the Pepys Library at Magdalene College, Cambridge ( MS 2124).19 Caxton’s version is introduced by two prose pieces, a version of the original’s preface and a preceding fifteenth-century proem similar to the one found

246 p r i n t a n d s o c i a l o r g a n i z at i o n

Kuskin Ch 6

11/15/07

9:35 AM

Page 247

in the Ovide Moralisé in B.L. Royal 17.E.iv.20 Beginning with a version of Romans 15:4, the original preface to the Ovide Moralisé emphasizes the way Ovid’s work can be read toward Christian sentence. “Thus,” Rita Copeland concludes, “a vernacular system of exegesis replaces its Latin precedent; and in a radical move of appropriation, a vernacular translation substitutes itself for the Latin original as the object of exegetical interest.”21 To the reader of the manuscript Ovid unfamiliar with Caxton’s French source, “I purpose to translate this sayd book of methamorphose in to Anglysshe tonge aftir the lytyl connyng wat god hath departed to me to thenede that yt myght be the better 7 sonner understanden” is Caxton’s voice, authorized by him as much as any of his writings. The Compiler’s voice replaces the Latin precedent, Caxton’s appropriates his manuscript copy—the Methamorphose presents a sequence of appropriations and displacements. Based on the fourteenth-century reading of a classical work, accompanied by a later French proem, and translated into fifteenthcentury English, it is therefore a palimpsest of texts, each editorial layer shading the previous one to develop a complicated reading of the Ovidian original. Taken separately, these individual layers a±ord a historically specific analysis of what it means to read Ovid; taken together, they set an important precedent for Caxton’s Eneydos by focusing his assessment of the work’s literary authority specifically around the classical auctor. The text thematizes this very process through its representation of textual manipulation as the manipulation of a female pagan captive. The Ovide Moralisé appropriates the Methamorphose, displacing Ovid with an independent vernacular authority that reads according to Christian doctrine. This displacement is not entirely silent. After citing a number of Christian authorities it moves into a direct discussion of the process of interpretation: “therfore it is necessarye to shewe bryefly how 7 in what facon or in what ordre 7 maner Cristen men ought to rede 7 understond the poetes and theyr subtyl werkes.” At its most articulate the proem makes this explanation through a reading not of Romans 15:4 but of Jerome’s Epistle 70, his letter to Flavius Magnus, professor of rhetoric at Rome. Written in 397, Epistle 70 is Jerome’s defense for reading pagan works and stands in distinct contrast to his earlier turn away from pagan writers after his dream at Antioch in which Christ accused him, “Ciceronianus es, non Christianus.”22 Jerome cites Paul to demonstrate the uses of pagan writing for a Christian writer, arguing that Paul “had learned

v e r n a c u l a r h u m a n i s m 247

Kuskin Ch 6

11/15/07

9:35 AM

Page 248

from the true David to wrench the sword of the enemy out of his hand and with his own blade to cut o± the head of the arrogant Goliath.” For Jerome appropriation is a rhetorical weapon, and this understanding structures the epistle even when he leaves Paul and goes on to discuss other authors. Jerome even uses this technique on Flavius Magnus at the start of his letter: in response to Flavius’s question that perhaps Jerome spends too much time with the pagan authors, Jerome turns Flavius against himself: “You would never have asked it, had not your mind been wholly taken up with Tully; you would never have asked it had you made it a practice instead of studying Volcatius to read the holy scriptures and the commentators upon them.” Indeed, without this structure the letter would only be a list of writers and Jerome’s argument simply the citation of precedent. Jerome’s main example, the one that is expanded in the proem to Caxton’s Methamorphose, is taken from Deuteronomy 21:10 –13. This example works through a similar notion of wresting the secular work from its pagan auctor; however, it changes the terms from warfare to sexuality, all the while maintaining the aggressive sense. Jerome argues that Paul “had read in Deuteronomy the command given by the voice of the Lord that when a captive woman had had her head shaved, her eyebrows and all her hair cut o±, and her nails pared, she might then be taken to wife.” As Jerome explains, Deuteronomy 21:10 –13 details the protocols for a Jewish man to marry a gentile prisoner of war. These protocols convert the prisoner into a member of the household by modifying her physical appearance. In highlighting the physical, Moses admits the Jewish husband’s desire is based on the captive’s visual beauty but also demands an alteration of that beauty. Thus the visual a±ords a route to the bride’s identity, her pagan past. So, in addition to the aspects Jerome mentions, Moses stipulates that before the marriage the captive bride must be given a month to mourn her family without her prisoner’s attire. Further, if the husband is in some way dissatisfied with his conquest, Moses o±ers him some recourse: “Then if you have no delight in her, you shall let her go where she will; but you shall not sell her for money, you shall not treat her as a slave, since you have humiliated her.”23 The husband may take his new wife and, if disappointed, may still cast her aside; however this recourse acknowledges that the bride is fundamentally transformed: she is now part of the Jewish community, and she cannot be sold, is not a

248 p r i n t a n d s o c i a l o r g a n i z at i o n

Kuskin Ch 6

11/15/07

9:35 AM

Page 249

slave, and has pride. In Deuteronomy, the prisoner’s conversion is both superficial and profound, so that while the marriage is still the patriarchal victor’s prerogative, it also bears the symbolic weight of Jewish law. Acknowledging the privileges of power (the choice of the captive, the taking of delight, the naming as wife, the ability to humiliate), Deuteronomy places the final limit on that power at holy doctrine. In Epistle 70 Jerome uses the passage from Deuteronomy to figure the captive woman as the appropriated pagan work, and in advancing Deuteronomy as an analogy for appropriation, he preserves its sense of the pagan as erotic. “Is it surprising,” Jerome asks, that I too, admiring the fairness of her form and the grace of her eloquence, desire to make that secular wisdom which is my captive and my handmaid, a matron of the true Israel? Or that shaving o± and cutting away all in her that is dead whether this be idolatry, pleasure, error, or lust, I take her to myself clean and pure and beget by her servants for the Lord of Sabbath? My e±orts promote the advantage of Christ’s family, my so-called defilement with an alien increases the number of my fellow-servants. Like the Jewish patriarch, Jerome is motivated by what he imagines is a pagan sensuality that survives the cutting away of vices. And so, the protocols of Jewish law (the shaving of the hair and paring of the nails) become the equivalent to interpretation: both cut away the non-Christian elements to accomplish a transformation of the pagan subject. Eugene Rice points out that Jerome’s use of the text about the “lovely captive” is in fact modeled directly on Origen’s In Leviticum homilia, VII (yet another example of Jerome’s appropriative reading style).24 So, Jerome’s argument suggests that a complete conversion is both impossible and unwanted: the primary work’s “fairness of her form and the grace of her eloquence” inspire desire in Jerome before the conversion and drive him to “take her to [him]self” afterward. Indeed, his “so-called defilement with an alien”— his reading of the pagan text couched as sexual engagement—is exciting because the new text maintains some sense of its original di±erence. Rather than the possibility of the pagan subject becoming sexually dissatisfying, Jerome’s paradigm for translation demands it maintain its original sense—“the fairness of her form and the grace of her eloquence”—to

v e r n a c u l a r h u m a n i s m 249

Kuskin Ch 6

11/15/07

9:35 AM

Page 250

remain intelligible and interesting, erotic. Thus, Jerome uses Paul to work his way back to Samson and Deuteronomy. In Samson he imagines appropriation as a rhetorical violence capable of crippling pagan authority, and in Deuteronomy a rhetorical seduction in which the captive is never fully converted but sustains, through the image of woman, the pleasure and prerogatives of patriarchal power. In that Caxton’s text acts as a palimpsest, layering a fifteenth-century proem on top of a fourteenth-century preface, the proem focuses Jerome’s use of Deuteronomy around reading for authorial intention. For having introduced Jerome’s Epistle 70, the proem o±ers less a discussion of Jerome than a direct citation of Deuteronomy 21:10–13. In contrast to both Deuteronomy and Jerome the proem mutes the sense of desire evoked by the pagan captive. It contains no discussion of the pagan captive’s beauty, no possibility that the victorious husband might not be fully satisfied with his captive bride, no mention of her family prior to captivity. Indeed, the wife’s previous life is represented entirely by her captivity and her physical conversion is, instead of a negotiation of patriarchal and divine power, a spiritual liberation from her bonds. Thus, her body is less a representation of physical desire, her captivity a fetish of that desire, than of her abstract spiritual state. As if to stress this abstract quality, the proem shifts the gender of its pronouns as it tightens its focus so that the captive’s body represents Christ’s: “what meruayille thenne yf the sapience or Wysedome seculer or Worldly / Whych is as bonde or prysoner . for excellence of hys langage and of the beaulte of his body / wat I myself wil cutte and take away that whych may hurte and not auaylle.” Jerome’s captive represents secular wisdom as well, but in Jerome power is always in the foreground: secular wisdom is a captive and handmaid, whom her husband converts into “a matron of the true Israel.” In the proem the element that makes the captive desirable is “sapience or Wysedome seculer,” and her gender undergoes a conversion with its liberation. In both readings her body stands in for the textual body and the way of explicating it is to prune away its literal level and reveal its Christian sentence; but what Jerome puts forth as a model of appropriative rhetoric that works through the sensuality of eloquence, the proem translates into a model for secular salvation from “that whych may hurte and not auaylle,” suggesting a transformative e±ect capable of eliminating the material trappings and reducing the captive to the very essence of secular wisdom. 250 p r i n t a n d s o c i a l o r g a n i z at i o n

Kuskin Ch 6

11/15/07

9:35 AM

Page 251

Stemming from the same French literary culture as the Ovide Moralisé, the Eneydos shares its interest in writing as transformative and reading as sexual. As in the Ovide Moralisé, the Eneydos-compiler creates Dido as a representation of the pagan text and assumes for himself the role of readerbecome-writer interpreting out the secular wisdom. The result is that although he initially draws a firm line between Boccaccio’s and Virgil’s Dido stories, he ultimately renders them in much the same manner. So, although Dido is not chaste in the Virgilian section, the Compiler moves her exemplary role toward that of the Justinian section, maintaining her as a positive example and leaving the reader with an image of her as a beautiful woman. Caxton parallels the two chapters by titling them similarly: the end of De casibus or Justinian section is “¶ A comendacyon to dydo” (C6), the Virgilian is “of the beaulte of dydo” ( H3v). Like the pagan captive’s, Dido’s beauty is part of her allure, and a constellation of issues concerning beauty in outward form, language, and in writing appears in the text. For example, chapter 10 presents Dido’s obsession with Aeneas: His grete beaulte & swete langage / whiche she enprynted in her remembraunce / that her membres refuseden the swete reste of slepe / And kepte this thoughte in her selfe by ryght longe tyme in suche a wyse / that in a mornynge / after that the lyghte of the daye rebouted & putte a backe the shadowe of the nyghte aboute the lampe / and the sonne rysen for to shyne on the erthe. (C8) Aeneas’s language imprints itself on Dido without material trace, subjecting her to a desire that constrains her very body. If Cadmus’s “subtle artifice” reports a process by which writing is involved in the clarification of intention, Aeneas’s unwritten “sweet language” produces a sensuality that subjects Dido to a physical paralysis in which her body rejects her own intention and leaves her trapped between dusk and dawn in a darkness barely held at bay by the light of her lamp. Both Cadmus’s and Aeneas’s are processes of impression, and both impinge upon series of thematic relationships within the text concerning intention and confusion, aesthetics and decadence, light and darkness. For example, in both cases language alternately clarifies or subverts intention so that the representative cities, Carthage and Troy, are “enuyroned”— encircled, enveloped, or surrounded (OED, 1–3)—at v e r n a c u l a r h u m a n i s m 251

Kuskin Ch 6

11/15/07

9:35 AM

Page 252

various moments in the text. This occurs with opposite results. In the first section the process of “enuyroning” articulates Carthage’s identity as a city: Dido uses the ox hide to “enuyronne” the land on which she intends to build her city (C3), as the city is built it is “enuyronned wyth wallis autentyke” (C3v), and “enuyronned” is associated with its naming as well, for “the toun was named biose taking his name of the hide of an oxe” (C3v). In contrast, when Troy is “enuyronned” by siege at the very opening of Eneydos (B1) it is at its darkest hour: “the noble cyte of Asye was broylled and brente by the subtyl accyon of the fyre putte in to it by the grekes,” producing a “thicke tenebrosite of the blacke smoke,” which “enbrace[s]” Troy, throwing yet another circle of siege around the city (B2v). The smoke blocks the stars’ “naturel lyghte,” leaving the Trojans physically blind, unable to “perceyue ony thyng.” Like the imprint of Aeneas’s language on Dido’s imagination, the Greeks’ “subtyl accyon” subjects the Trojans to a darkness that renders them helpless. Reminiscent of Dido’s lamp, which does not illuminate her misery so much as emphasize the bleakness of its surround, the Grecian fire casts its own “domageous [destructive] clereness” that shows the “the fyre deuourynge the pompe of Troye.” The Eneydos creates the building of Carthage and the fall of Troy as opposite events, both intertwined with subjection to artistry. One brings clarity—the delineation of intention through writing—the other the darkness of smoke which is, paradoxically, a clarity as well, one that burns away decadence. As the narrative tells of the siege of Troy, it focuses in on the last remaining gate, the gate “stex”: “Abydng onely one of the yates of the same town. named in theyr langage the yate stex whiche was made soo maysterly / that the Ingenyous subtylte of maistres of masonrye carpentrye / that of all we countreye of Aise it passed alle other in e±orte and strengthe” (B2v ). Masterly, ingenious, and subtle, the gate epitomizes artistry in material fabrication, an example not of natural beauty but a further layer of the manmade artifice that constitutes the “pompe of Troye.” That Troy is overly aestheticized is a point the Eneydos is consistent on: Priam is recorded “after the fyctious poetyque” (B1); the Compiler explains its destruction is “lyke as the goddes and fortune hadde enterprysed to destroye soo artyfycyall a werke” (B2v ), confounding “the pompouse and proude noblenes of thynhabytants of Troye” (B3); and even Creusa’s hair is described as “by manuel artyfyces hadde dyligently be enryched” (B3). Bodies are imprinted and cities are encircled: in over252 p r i n t a n d s o c i a l o r g a n i z at i o n

Kuskin Ch 6

11/15/07

9:35 AM

Page 253

lapping imprinting and environing, the Compiler’s language suggests that intention is produced through a process of subjection to the authority of a particular aesthetic. The relationship between intention and artifice, language and light, the present and the past, is continued when Dido is overcome by a “grete fransie” just before her death (G7v–G8). At the height of her misery, Dido summons a previous remembrance that is “redy to be executed.” This remembrance is so troubling that it changes her “wyttes to torne in to a wyked kynde,” resulting in both a psychological change—a new “mynde for to destroye the first composicion”—and a somewhat more physiological one: the coagulation “in couenable proporcion for the entreteynynge of the spiryte vitall.” As with Phoenician writing, the composition of the mind is jointly material and intentional. This overlap also bears a relationship to the perception of light: Wherof her fayre eyen greue and lawghynge were incontynent tourned in to a right hidouse lokynge mobyle & sangwynouse to see / the swete balle of the eye whiche is the veraye receptacle interyor of lyght visible / and Iuge of the colours by reflection obgectyf whiche she bryngeth vnto the Impression cogytyue of the entendement / wherof she maketh a present to the suppost indicatyf discernynge without interualle the di±erences abstractyue adherynge to theyr subgecte. was sone made obscure & her lyght empesched from the Veraye Iugyng in parfyt knowlege. (G8) Through the eye, “lyght visible” and “colours” are brought to the “Impression cogytyue of the entendement.” This “entendement” is wrapped in the linguistic constructs of the “indicatyf” and the “subgecte.” When Dido loses control of “Iugyng in parfyt knowlege,” she also loses control over her body: externally, her eyes change from fair, green, and laughing, to hideous, wandering, and bloodshot; internally, her ability to perceive “di±erences abstractyue adherynge to theyr subgecte” is “made obscure & her lyght empesched,” defeating the “Impression cogytyue of the entendement.” The end result is Dido’s complete physical transformation from beauty to wretch: “her tendre chykes and vysage that afore was playsaunt & debonayre of sangwyne coloure tournyng vpon white / becam alle pale sodaynly in hydouse manere & all mortyfied for the cruelle deth wherof the harde angwysshes had enuahyshed [invaded] her v e r n a c u l a r h u m a n i s m 253

Kuskin Ch 6

11/15/07

9:35 AM

Page 254

alredy” (G8). The passage ties together the themes that have run through both Dido’s paralysis and the siege of Troy by insisting that the composition of intention proceeds according to the composition of letters. Thus Dido’s passion has made it impossible for her to formulate her intention, resulting in a metamorphosis in which she can no longer control her selfpresentation. Further, the passage connects this change to the Eneydos’s emphasis on light in that the composition of intention proceeds according to the visual di±erentiation of forms of light. The Trojans “enuyroned” at the siege parallel Dido “emprynted” with Aeneas’s visage because both are blinded to the “di±erences abstractyue adherynge to theyr subgecte” and unable to form an “Impression cogytyue of the entendement.” As in John Russell’s coronation oration, darkness can be internal and external; it can be historical, but it is deeply textual. The salvation from darkness lies in the recognition of the power of language, which is strangely wrapped in the process of reading and writing that concerns the very perception of light through the eye. Thus the Eneydos’s understanding of intentionality can be folded back into the authority of Phoenician writing because both work according to a sense of impression and subjection: the classical work has literary authority for present readers because, in its reproduction in contemporary texts, the reader is subjected to its articulation of aesthetics, history, and intentionality. Reading and writing: both the Methamorphose and the Eneydos are self-reflective, inward turning around the production and consumption of authorial intention, orbiting back to their main themes as metaphors for the process of reading. The power of metaphor is to hold things together, and in this case the abstract—secular wisdom—is consistently linked to the physical: for just as the pagan wife is a metaphor for secular wisdom, Dido is a signifier for the subtle artistry of writing, for the vermillion ink that permits the transmission of knowledge to the present. Rather than isolated from the physical, abstracted to some pure essence, secular wisdom remains linked to its physical manifestation. The proem to the Methamorphose flirts with the possibility of separating these two categories in its ensuing discussion of literary interpretation: And wus thenne haue we the forme and the manere how we oughte to take and rede the Poetes And other Auctours that is to wete / that / as we gradryng rooses we slee the thorn as moche as we maye Right so in the same maner beholdyng 7 seeyng the wrytynge of the Poetes / 254 p r i n t a n d s o c i a l o r g a n i z at i o n

Kuskin Ch 6

11/15/07

9:35 AM

Page 255

late us not take but only that whyche serueth to our pourpos and is consonant unto trouthe . And suche thynges as may hurte and greve late us leue. The suggestion here is that certain aspects of the text can be pruned away, as an editor separates authorial intention from textual inaccuracy or as an exegete discerns the Christian sentence from pagan rhetoric. Through this process, perhaps, the thorny texts of pagan poets can be converted— like the pagan captive—to a purpose consonant with Christian truth. Indeed the Compiler expands upon this image, describing himself as a “bee that by fleyng from flour to flour hath travsuersyd & runne over the bookes of the paynems / now here now there / gadryng to gudre the juse of good odure.” As much as the Compiler searches for an appropriate language, he gives himself away, for figured either as a gatherer of roses or as a bee landing upon the redolent flower, reading is less an act of abstinence than of indulgence. Instead of abandoning the image of the female body as text, then, the proem transposes it, capturing Jerome’s equation of sensuality and eloquence in a metaphor that distills the issues of gender and power into a trope for the object of desire, the rose. The language betrays the central tension of reading—it is a process of engagement with the physical—which brings us closer to Caxton’s own language, “the forme and the manere how we oughte to take and rede the Poetes And other Auctours,” to demonstrate the ways in which the material nature of texts—the vermillion letters, the forms of the print shop— is continually connected to abstractions: Caxton’s persona, the pagan past, secular wisdom. My argument, then, is that Caxton’s Methamorphose and the Eneydos are as concerned with establishing a theory for reading classical texts as they are with the texts themselves. Both establish a history for reading— the Methamorphose a Christian exegesis stemming from Paul and Jerome, the Eneydos a history of writing following back to the Phoenicians—and both use this history to analyze authorial intention. In the Eneydos this analysis proceeds through the juxtaposition of modern and ancient, Boccaccio and Virgil; in the Methamorphose the Compiler finds the process of exegesis at the very heart of Ovid’s title: He imposed the name methamorphose / whiche is asmoche to say as transmutacion of one fable in to anowor interpretacion of theym ±or v e r n a c u l a r h u m a n i s m 255

Kuskin Ch 6

11/15/07

9:35 AM

Page 256

he seeng as wel the latyn poetes as the poetes of Grece that hade ben tofore hym and hys tyme had touched in wrytyng many fables and them passed superfycyelly / without expressynge theyre knowlege or entendement . The sayde Ovide hath opened vnto the latyns the way as wel in the fables of Grekes as in other And hath them tyssued and woven by so grete subtyltee of engyne charge 7 solicytude in suche wyse that one by that other / that it myght be sayde very semblably wat they depended one of another and that by such ordre that frome the creacion of the world vnto hys tyme he had ordeyned hys sayenge some by fable 7 some by hystorye only And other wyse tyssued 7 medled with fable and hystorye togidre which is a thyng ryght subtil. Fifteenth-century writers typically identify eloquence as following the “short, quyck and hye sentences” of the aureate past. In contrast, Ovid’s rhetoric is one of obscurity, of mingling history and poetry, of tissuing over his sources with “grete subtyltee.” This di¤culty is, in Ovid, a necessity, for previous to him Greek and Latin poets passed over the fables “superfycyelly / without expressynge theyre knowlege or entendement.” Ovid’s intention is to make this writing intelligible, to appropriate its wisdom for the present. This process underwrites Metamorphoses itself. Thus, the Compiler insists that the notion of a physical metamorphosis should not be taken literally but within a Christian understanding of moral behavior: “and they that haue su±red theyre passyons by sensualite ben they that they calle foles insensyble lyke brute bestes And they in a newe body transfourme theym self.” He also argues that Ovid’s use of pagan gods is not disabling to its meaning: “And also that he argue not in hyme pluralite of goddes / how wel that he a±ermeth many by name / seen that in other hys bookes ryghte fynly he speketh of the unyte of god.” More broadly, the history of writing is, therefore, a history of authorial intention because here intention and writing are melded together. Reading Ovid and the vermillion letters of a medieval manuscript are much the same because they suggest a relationship for history which is mediated by neither linearity nor break, but by a transformation in which the past looms up in all its profundity for the present. The Eneydos presents a history of writing in which intentionality is its theme—the center of Dido’s story, the echo of her namesake, and the

256 p r i n t a n d s o c i a l o r g a n i z at i o n

Kuskin Ch 6

11/15/07

9:35 AM

Page 257

endpoint of her great frenzy—and its governing occasion: the juxtaposition between the authorial intentions of Boccaccio and Virgil. Intentionality operates similarly in the Methamorphose, where Ovid becomes a metaphor for the central action of transformation. This, too, describes the Compiler’s own methods: for having modified that text by appending and commenting, the Compiler is a reader turned writer, a consumer whose process of consumption has asserted his own intention over the text. Similarly, by carrying her from her chaste Justinian role to Virgil’s Dido undone by desire, and back the Eneydos Compiler performs a twofold “methamorphose” of Dido, one that simultaneously revises and reclaims Virgil’s authority. Exegetical touchstone around which the text is organized and sympathetic persona of beauty within the text, Dido is, like the wife-captive of Deuteronomy, the pagan embodiment of desire which locates the Compiler’s interpretation of the text. Further, Caxton uses both texts to elaborate the English canon. Translated between his two runs of Chaucerian material, the Methamorphose reflects Caxton’s reading during this period. In book 13 Caxton adds, “I can nomore saye but I shold telle you alle the bataylle . whych ye may wel knowe of the monke of Bury in ballade . and in the recueil of Troye whyche I translated in prose al alonge”; similarly he includes, “Wel wryteth Ge±rerey Chawcer that noble man of discripcon of this hows in hys booke named the book of Fame.” In turn, Caxton introduces the Eneydos with a reference to Skelton. In both cases, he associates the classical text with contemporary English authors. It is to this contemporary scene that we now turn.

The Laureate System It is a minor point of bibliographical history that Caxton could not print red rubrics successfully until the second edition of the Directorium sacerdotum (STC 17722) in 1489. In a metaphorical sense this is the subject of his prologue to the Eneydos. Discussing the di¤culties of translating his source into late fifteenth-century English, the prologue to the Eneydos returns us to Caxton’s initial concerns in the Recuyell of the Histories of Troye to suggest a literary language capable of making the authority of history immanent. Finding contemporary cultural codes embedded within

v e r n a c u l a r h u m a n i s m 257

Kuskin Ch 6

11/15/07

9:35 AM

Page 258

vernacular language, Caxton makes a broad division between the rude speech of the middle classes and an ornate eloquence of the elite; the latter, he suggests, is epitomized by the writings of Henry’s poet laureate, John Skelton. Skelton, too, is concerned with finding a vernacular fitting literary expression; thus the problem Caxton presents as unique to his translation of the Livre des Eneydes is also one of the larger political culture engaged in a laureate system of literary production. We can see this literary system at work by reading it against the events of the contemporary social scene, such as the 1489 Yorkshire uprising. A relatively minor disturbance in early Tudor political history, the uprising is interesting less for the originality of Henry’s response—Henry simply suppressed it through military force—than for the ways it allows Caxton and Skelton to comment on the symbolic authority of English writing. Caxton’s prologue to the Eneydos and Skelton’s elegy for the Earl of Northumberland, killed during the uprising, explore the relationship between literary and political authority in defining English identity. Both writers align authority with the aristocracy, yet neither entirely divorces it from the cultural tensions within the broader community; the result is an authority unified enough to shape English nationalism, but still flexible enough to speak to a population divided by class, distance, and dialect. As Skelton and Caxton both exploit the title of the poet laureate, I term their systematic deployment of literary authority a state laureate system. Flexibility is the system’s symbolic strength: disseminated through manuscript and print, Caxton’s and Skelton’s writing speaks to a heterogeneous England searching for modes of producing its identity. By recognizing the intellectual and material ways literary authority participates in the constitution of a national identity, we can better understand the process of literary history overall. Printed in 1490, the Eneydos comes late in Caxton’s career; in fact, it is one of the last literary works he put to press before his death. His prologue is fittingly retrospective and recalls his first literary prologue, that of the Recuyell. Thus, he imagines translation as a recourse from idleness. “Hauyng noo werke in hande,” he turns to “a lytyl booke in frenshe. whiche late was translated oute of latyn by some noble clerke of fraunce” (A1) and becomes stymied by the frustrations of the work: “and forthwyth toke a penne & ynke and wrote a leef or tweye / whyche I ouersawe agayn to corecte it / And whan I sawe the fayr & straunge termes therin /

258 p r i n t a n d s o c i a l o r g a n i z at i o n

Kuskin Ch 6

11/15/07

9:35 AM

Page 259

I doubted that it sholde not please some gentylmen whiche late blamed me sayeng wt in my translacyons. I had ouer curyous termes whiche coude not be vnderstande of comyn peple / and desired me to vse olde and homely termes in my translacyons. and fayn wolde I satysfye euery man” (A1r –v). So Caxton thinks of some “euydences wryton in olde englysshe” that the Abbott of Westminster brought him “that it was more lyke to dutche than englysshe,” and this brings him to a story from his youth in which two London merchants on a layover in Kent order eggs only to be mistaken by the landlady as speaking French.25 Perhaps the most famous passage in all of Caxton’s writing, the anecdote concludes: Loo what sholde a man in thyse dayes now wryte. egges or eyren / certaynly it is harde to playse euery man / by cause of dyuersite & chaunge of langage. For in these dayes euery man that is in ony reputacyon in his countre. wyll vtter his commynycacyon and maters in suche maners & termes / that fewe men shall vnderstonde theym / And som honest and grete clerkes haue ben wyth me and desired me to wryte the moste curyous termes that I coude fynde / And thus bytwene playn rude / & curyous I stande abasshed (A1v–A2) The story has largely been taken to reveal Caxton’s editorial awareness of linguistic variation, and it clearly does focus the reader on, as Caxton puts it, “diversity and change” in English. Conceptually, however, Caxton’s story moves from the linguistic problem of understanding “egges or eyren” to a more politically minded discussion of “reputation.” Indeed, Caxton’s example of a man outside his country “uttering” his message in inscrutable and no doubt provincial “manners and terms” merges language with regional politics explicitly. Into this juncture Caxton casts questions of audience: Caxton would please every man, but honest and great clerks desire him to translate into “curious” terms. Though he readily asserts these clerks’ expertise, their desire strangely fails to persuade him, and instead of following their lead he describes himself as standing abashed between plain rude and curious language. The opposition between “plain rude” and “curious” places eloquence against coarseness; taken with the man “uttering” his communication, it revises Caxton’s discussion from the seemingly infinite ways dialect can identify a speaker—the diverse ways of pronouncing “eggs”—to a clear

v e r n a c u l a r h u m a n i s m 259

Kuskin Ch 6

11/15/07

9:35 AM

Page 260

division in which clerks speak in the curious language of the court and academy, and the rude man, basing his authority on local reputation, attempts to engage in political discourse, to “utter his communication,” without these intellectual properties. If on one level, Caxton’s anecdote invites us to read him at face value and notice changes in the vernacular, it also asks us to note that he sees these changes as well, and thus to acknowledge his association with the clerks of Henry VII’s court.26 On a second level, it suggests Caxton’s concern with the symbolic power of vernacular English to define its speakers as rude, curious, or abashed. Ultimately, the academic and aesthetic questions of language become quite personal: it is Caxton himself who stands “abashed”—confounded—at the intersection of language and class. Thus the prologue works on a third level as well: as much as Caxton’s search for a proper language chronicles his attempt to present his text appropriately, it also tells of his e±orts to construct a literary persona fitting a translator of courtly texts and a printer of English literature. So what begins as a question of translation becomes, over the course of the prologue, one of self-presentation, and in this, too, it is a retrospective piece, a return to the Recuyell. As the prologue continues, Caxton finds his voice enough to invite “mayster Iohn Skelton late created poete laureate in the vnyuersite of oxenforde” to review his work. Caxton argues that Skelton has read “the ix. Muses and vnderstande[s] theyr musicalle sciences. and to whom of theym eche scyence is appropred” (A2v). He specifically points out “for hym I knowe for su±ycyent to expowne and englysshe euery dy±yculte that is therin / For he hath late translated the epystlys of Tulle / and the boke of dyodorus syculus. And diuerse other werkes oute of laytn in to englysshe not in rude and olde language. But in polysshed and orate terms craftely” (A2r–v); what sets Skelton apart from the humanists Caxton worked with throughout his career is that he writes in the vernacular. Further, as in the Recuyell, when Caxton generalizes, he also becomes more specific: these references to the muses, the musical sciences, and “Elycons well” are generally taken to be allusions to two of Skelton’s early works: his English poem “Upon the Dolorus Dethe and Muche Lamentable Chaunce of the Mooste Honorable Erle of Northumberlande,” an elegy on Henry Percy, fourth Earl of Northumberland, killed during the Yorkshire uprising of April 1489, and his translation of the Diodorus Siculus’s Bibliotheca historica. In these works Skelton is interested in the

260 p r i n t a n d s o c i a l o r g a n i z at i o n

Kuskin Ch 6

11/15/07

9:35 AM

Page 261

translation of literary authority to fifteenth-century English in much the same way as Caxton. The poem in particular addresses the relationship among vernacular composition, classical learning, the court, and social upheaval. Current criticism on “Upon the Dolorus Dethe” attempts to categorize it as an example of either medieval or Renaissance poetry.27 This di¤culty stems largely from Skelton’s own construction of his persona, a persona that simultaneously asserts his continuity with and di±erence from the Chaucerian tradition. For example, in stanza 2, the stanza Caxton alludes to in his prologue, Skelton invokes his muse: Of hevenly poems, O Clyo, calde by name In the college of musis goddes hystoriall, Adres the to me, whiche am bothe halt and lame, In elect uteraunce to make memoryall! To the for succour, to the for helpe I kall, Myne homely rudnes and drighnes to expelle With the freshe waters of Elyconys welle.28 The dryness of Skelton’s poetic voice is surely a reference to the opening of the Canterbury Tales where April brings its sweet showers to a landscape parched by March.29 Where Chaucer presents his reworking of the traditions he inherits as the natural coming of spring, Skelton dilates over the incongruity between his project and the language available to him. He calls upon Clio, not to replenish but to expel the homely rudeness and dryness of the vernacular. Skelton elaborates his rejection of Chaucerian poetics later in the poem, in stanza 19, a stanza firmly grounded in fifteenth-century humility tropes: Mi wordis unpullysht be nakide and playne, Of aureat poems they want ellumynynge; Bot by them to knoulege ye may attayne Of this lordis dethe and of his murdrynge. (127–30) Skelton’s discussion of polished words and aureate poems relies on earlier fifteenth-century praise of Chaucer, on what Seth Lerer has called “a

v e r n a c u l a r h u m a n i s m 261

Kuskin Ch 6

11/15/07

9:35 AM

Page 262

vocabulary of impression” established by Lydgate and polished over the course of the century.30 Skelton claims his language is “unpolished,” that it wants “illuminating”; nevertheless, he uses this lack to introduce his classical muse, and, over the course of the poem, his familiarity with classical figures allows him to liken Northumberland to Aeneas and to Hector. It is because of his evocation of these figures, he tells us, that he is able to bring men of rank to sorrowful weeping, completing the poem’s function as an elegy. Nevertheless, Skelton’s strategy for introducing these classical figures, for producing himself as a poet involved in the New Learning, is grounded in the rhetoric of the Chaucerian tradition; thus he cannot make his claim for originality independent of a simultaneous claim for the canonicity of the prior poetic tradition: rather than find itself through oppositions—medieval and modern, humanist and Chaucerian—Skelton’s poetic discovers itself in synthesis. If Skelton’s erudition allows him to bring closure to the poem, his skill in the vernacular moves it into more overtly political terrain. The Yorkshire uprising of 1489 seems to have been sparked by the especially heavy tax burden Henry VII used to finance his incursions into Brittany. Sitting November 9, 1487, Henry’s second Parliament granted him a subsidy of two-fifteenths and two-tenths to be paid June 24 and November 10, 1488, respectively. Claming the “greit povertie, ruyne, and decae of this said cite” and “calling to mynde the common opynion of men here,” the York council requested a partial pardon of the tax on the grounds of the customary Yorkshire exemption.31 In petitioning the king for remission of the tax, the York corporation was apparently appealing to precedent and thus had reason to believe it would be granted. Letters to the king and repeated visits to Westminster by representatives Sir Richard Yorke and Sir William Todd pursued this remission in London throughout 1488 without success (and no doubt they uttered their “communications and matters in such manners and terms that few men shall understand them” in the London courts). The Yorkshire exemption was disallowed, and in January 1489 an additional £75,000 was granted to the king, bringing the tax burden close to five-fifteenths in three years.32 By February popular disorder in York had risen to such a level that the mayor closed the gates of the city during the mayoral election and issued a proclamation prohibiting the wearing of weapons, “harness or defensible array.”33 News of these disturbances spread, and the king threatened to

262 p r i n t a n d s o c i a l o r g a n i z at i o n

Kuskin Ch 6

11/15/07

9:35 AM

Page 263

mount a commission of inquiry into their cause. With this threat the York council took measures to complete their collection of the back taxes. North of York the tax continued to go unpaid. On April 20 there was an uprising at Ayton in Cleveland led by John à Chambre, an estate o¤cer who operated in a district most recently overseen by Richard III. His position was granted to him for life on September 22, 1485, as a reward for service at Bosworth.34 Though sympathetic to his populace’s demands, Earl Henry Percy’s position required him to extract the king’s tax and, on April 24, he wrote from his manor at Seamer near Scarborough to Sir Robert Plumpton, steward of Knaresborough, requesting that an armed force meet him on the following Monday night in the town of Thirsk. On April 28 the earl and his men met with Chambre and seven hundred protesters at South Kilvington near Thirsk, and the earl was killed. Word spread by mouth, written proclamation, and bell ringing so that the popular force grew, and was soon joined by the earl’s own nephew, Sir John Egremont.35 Under Egremont’s control the protesters advanced toward York. The mayor and council fortified the city; however, aided by fletcher Hugh Bunting, Alderman Thomas Wrangwish, and other disa±ected citizens, five thousand protesters entered York on May 15. The outcome of this occupation is unclear, but while on their way to Richmondshire on May 17, Egremont and the protesters were routed by a force from the south composed of Sir Richard Tunstall and the earls of Surrey, Oxford, Derby, and Shrewsbury. Overall, the only recorded fatality of the uprising was Sir Henry Percy, fourth Earl of Northumberland.36 Central to Skelton’s assessment of the uprising is that Northumberland was slain “thorow treson, ageyn hym compassyd and wrought” (6 –7). Because the protesters at South Kilvington killed Northumberland while he was serving the king’s business, they were indeed charged with treason. This explanation certainly had currency in contemporary opinion: writing to John Paston III two days after the event, the Earl of Oxford reports, “Northumberland, havyng the auctorité to se the Kynges money levied in the north parties, had knowleche that certeyne persones of comvnes wer assembled at Topclif and at a nother lordship of his nygh to the same.” The earl reports that because the commons “wer but naked men,” Northumberland “addressed hym-self towardes theym withoute eny harneys in pesible maner, trustyng to have appeased theym.”37

v e r n a c u l a r h u m a n i s m 263

Kuskin Ch 6

11/15/07

9:35 AM

Page 264

Oxford’s letter aligns Northumberland’s authority with the king and identifies the threat to this authority as coming from “persones of comvnes.” In e±ect, he reads the uprising as a friction between two estates, the nobility and the commoners. To a large degree Skelton’s poem supports this reading as he also o±ers “certeyne persones of comvnes” as responsible for Northumberland’s death. Yet in stanza 5 Skelton suggests problems within the classes as well as between them: So noble a man, so valiaunt lorde and knyght Fulfilled with honour, as all the world dothe ken, At his commaundement whiche had both day and night Knyghtis and squyers, at every season when He calde upon them, as menyall houshold men: Were not thes commones uncurteis karlis of kind To slo ther owne lorde? God was not in ther mynde! (29–35) Historians and literary critics alike have been quick to situate Skelton’s charge within the peculiarities of Northern politics. The collapse of Neville power and the imprisonment of Northumberland during the Wars of the Roses created a vacuum of influence in the North that Edward IV was able to exploit in 1474 by indenturing Northumberland to Richard, then Duke of Gloucester, and thus stabilizing the North by placing Northumberland’s authority within Richard’s overall control. The result was that Richard and Northumberland worked together throughout the 1470s, and because of this association, Northumberland eventually played a substantial part in Richard’s usurpation of the crown by presiding over the trials of Woodville, Grey, and Vaughan and later suppressing Buckingham’s rebellion. This relationship ultimately favored Richard, for as king he could expand his influence by simply recruiting from Northumberland’s men. Northumberland attempted to re-establish his influence by shifting allegiances to Henry Tudor at Bosworth Field and thereby drawing o± those disa±ected with Richard’s party, but after his indenture to Richard he was never able to command the same level of loyalty in the North as he had earlier. By the 1489 uprising almost half of his men had at some point also been retained by Richard, and almost all the uprising’s leading members—Chambre, Egremont, even Alderman Wrangwish—had strong Yorkist ties. For example, of the twenty-eight

264 p r i n t a n d s o c i a l o r g a n i z at i o n

Kuskin Ch 6

11/15/07

9:35 AM

Page 265

men retained by Percy at the time of his death, thirteen had at some time been retained by Richard as well. Men closely involved in the suppression of the Yorkshire uprising such as Northumberland’s nephew Gascoigne and Sheri± Marmaduke Constable were also at some time in Richard’s employ. With the collapse of the rebellion, Egremont fled to Margaret of Burgundy’s court. Further, because the city of York was a county unto itself, its defense against the protesters was complicated by regional rivalries for control: Sheri± Constable, Lord Cli±ord, and the corporation of York all contested for the right to garrison and thereby control the city. The divisions in power became even more splintered upon Northumberland’s death.38 Thus, Skelton’s charge of treason amongst the nobility holds true in that the retained men seem to have been bound by individual contract, first to Northumberland, then to Richard, rather than by some sort of filial loyalty based in their estate. Assessments of Skelton’s poem have been slower to recognize that his central assertion of treason points to social ambiguities beyond issues of loyalty among the noble class. Laying the charge of treason at the feet of the “uncurteis karlis,” Skelton is at once specific and ambiguous in his explanation of Northumberland’s death: though he identifies the commons as treasonous, he is unclear as to whether he means “uncurteis karlis of kind” as a satirical gloss on “commones” or whether his actual assertion is that Northumberland’s knights and squires are, in fact, commons “of kind.” “Upon the Dolorus Dethe” thus expands treason into a twotiered charge, one, following John Paston III, levied against the commons for rising against the nobility, and a second that blends these estates together. Indeed, Skelton argues, “Bot men say thei wer lynked with a double chayn / And held with the commons under a cloke” (75–77). Again, Skelton’s use of “thei” here is purposely ambiguous, blurring the earl’s forces into the commoners, linking them in what he calls a “double chayn” that draws across English polity. On one hand the “double chayn” emphasizes the treasonous nature of the bond between the nobility and the commons. Skelton uses doubleness in this sense to contrast the earl’s steadfastness—“Doublenes hatinge fals maters to compas / Treytory and treson he bannesht ought of syght” (150–51)—and he advises the next earl to be likewise: “Let double delinge in the have no place, / And be not light of credence in no case” (174 –75). Maintaining the king’s quarrel, the earl stands against doubleness because, in the poem at least, he

v e r n a c u l a r h u m a n i s m 265

Kuskin Ch 6

11/15/07

9:35 AM

Page 266

embodies an authority entirely aligned with the king. Skelton also uses doubleness to describe Fortune, who plays with “double dyse” (140). Like Malory’s “newfangleness,” at the center of Skelton’s charge of treason, then, is a doubleness that links class-based political instability with a larger sense of mutability. Again, the poem works less according to simple oppositions than through a deeper intermingling of categories. Rather than presenting the uprising in terms of an a±ront to noble authority, then, Skelton’s poem doubles literary authority with political authority: that is, just as he constructs his poetic voice through participating in but also distancing himself from the Chaucerian canon, he mourns the earl while simultaneously questioning the aristocracy’s separation from the English political body. The ambiguity inherent in Skelton’s “double chayn” is recognizable in the various statements fielded by both sides of the uprising. The king’s “Proclamation Against the Rebels” condemns the protesters as traitors bent on “not only the distruccion of the kynges most noble person and of alle the nobles and lordis of this realme, but also the subuersioun of the poletique wele of the same.”39 Directed at Kent, it extends the Yorkshire threat to “the southe parties of this his realme,” where it argues the rebels next intend to “subdue and brynge to captiuite alle the people of the same.” At its close it announces, all shirri±es, maiers, bailli±es, constables of townes and villages, and alle other o¤cers assigned for the conseruacioun of the kynges pease putt theym sel± in deuour to represse, subdue, and make to seace alle maner of insurreciouns riottes routtes, vnlawfulle assembles, and alle othre mysdoers, vagabundis, fynders and makers of new rumours and tydynges, to attach, arrest and ymprisone, and after ther dimerities to correcte, and alle other thingis to doo that shalbe for the conseruacioun of the peas and gode rule and gouernaunce and defense of the seid shire; and that they nor none of theym faile this to doo vppone payne of forfaiture of alle that they may forfaite and their bodies at the kynges wille. Addressing local authorities—“all shirri±es, maiers, bailli±es, constables of townes and villages, and alle other o¤cers”—the proclamation at once demonstrates that the king’s authority is mediated and that this process of

266 p r i n t a n d s o c i a l o r g a n i z at i o n

Kuskin Ch 6

11/15/07

9:35 AM

Page 267

mediation grants local authority as a franchised position. It assesses the protesters in similar terms: they are “riottes routtes, vnlawfulle assembles, and alle othre mysdoers, vagabundis, fynders and makers of new rumours,” defined not by occupation and class so much as their relationship to royal authority. The division between an authority franchised from the king and one disenfranchised and subversive—broadly involved in what John Russell terms “chargeable businesses”— contains within it an inherent ambiguity regarding class a¤liation: acting with the king the local inhabitants are secure in their social positions; acting against him they are defined as shiftless. Put more plainly, the basic di±erentiation between the local authorities and Oxford’s “certeyne persones of comvnes” operates less according to class than to their immediate intention to maintain centralized power. Thus, the king’s proclamation o±ers to make an identification with his subjects along the lines of centralized power—they are like the king and like Northumberland in their mutual role in protecting the “poletique wele”—which reveals the tenuousness of his position: if Henry were sure that there was no chance of his minor o¤cials blending with “riottes routtes, vnlawfulle assembles, and alle othre mysdoers,” he would not need to end his proclamation with a threat. The protesters also acknowledge this ambiguity as well. A version of their proclamation remains copied out in one of William Paston’s letters. According to the letter, the protesters speak from the authority of the lower class in the proclamation’s concluding lines: “and thys [ proclamation] is in the name of Mayster Hobbe Hyrste, Robyn Godfelaws brodyr he is, as I trow.”40 This position is their strength; their authority comes from “suche unlawfull poyntes as Seynt Thomas of Cauntyrbery dyed for; and thys to be fulfyllyd and kept by every ylke comenere upon peyn of dethe.” Like the king’s proclamation, the Paston letter phrases the authority for the uprising in terms of treason, not against king but against Becket, martyred through the royal word. Popular and righteous, this is an authority “ylke comenere” can adopt. Further, like the king, the protesters contend for local authorities, threatening “every lorde, knyght, esquyer, gentylmen, and yeman . . . upon peyne of losyng of ther goodes and bodyes.” In focusing on treason, Henry and “Mayster Hobbe Hyrste” both exploit the “double chayn” that aligns social identity through its relation to power beyond any simple bifurcation between commons and nobles. Case in point: while Henry condemned the

v e r n a c u l a r h u m a n i s m 267

Kuskin Ch 6

11/15/07

9:35 AM

Page 268

protesters as “mysdoers, vagabundis, fynders and makers of new rumours and tydynges,”41 the oyer and terminer commission appointed to try the protesters shows that, though fueled by the working poor, to a large extent the uprising was comprised by a much broader section of the populace. M. A. Hicks argues: made up of chaplains, yeomen, husbandmen, labourers, and craftsmen from York, Beverley, and the market towns—dyers, weavers, shoemakers, a pedlar, a wright, a fletcher, a fisherman, a panierman, a baker, a draper, and tailors. Such occupations do not, however, encompass the lowest ranks of Yorkshire society. At York, where Wrangwish and Bunting alone were of the freedom, only two of those indicted were labourers, the others all being identified by a trade. At Beverley three of those implicated were dyers, two already and one yet to be a governor of the town. Most of the countrymen were yeomen and husbandmen, although the occupation of the three men of Acomb is not reported. As with other popular rebellions, known rebels appear to be men of some property, men of fixed address, probably householders with some standing in their local communities and with much to lose by rebellion.42 As lawless, nomadic, and illicit, the protesters are entirely at odds with authority, agents on the margins of English society. Yet, the extant documents from the King’s Bench reveal them to have none of these qualities, and instead identify them as local laborers, guildsmen—dyers and weavers, bakers and tailors, merchants—landowners, and even past and future governors of Yorkshire towns, a broad cross section of the population connected to the community on a number of levels. Skelton’s charge of treason points not to a simple division between the noble and the common but to a spectrum of participants. Certainly lords and laborers were both involved in the uprising, but so were relatively well-o± tradesmen. We should recall that the leader of the group, John à Chambre, was an estate o¤cer and that the earl’s own nephew led the band south from York. The uprising’s real threat, one the nobility must have realized, was not that it destablized social order by flauting authority, but that it revealed a cohesive and independent Northern community operating in firm opposition to the London-based central authority of the Crown. Less a friction

268 p r i n t a n d s o c i a l o r g a n i z at i o n

Kuskin Ch 6

11/15/07

9:35 AM

Page 269

between estates within a fixed feudal contract, or even a breach of that contract, the uprising demonstrates that feudal structure articulates a constantly shifting and complex reality of social allegiances that defies classification.43 Thus Skelton’s “double chayn” provides a model for social structure that suggests when authority is drawn from any source other than the king it is, in fact, dependent upon a principle of mutability. Skelton develops his poetic voice from a similar ambiguity by mingling “homely rude” English with the “succour” of classical literary authority. While the poem as a whole is not cast in Skeltonics, it is voiced in a mixed language that never entirely leaves this alliterative undercurrent for the ornate qualities possible in fifteenth-century verse. This poetic allows Skelton to voice his own interiority in the poem’s opening line: “I wayle, I wepe, I sobbe, I sigh ful sore” attains a halting rhythm suggestive of his much more mature style. Initially, Skelton uses alliteration to separate noble from commoner along class lines. Northumberland—“the nobelnes of the northe, this valyant lorde and knyght” (85)—is identified with light alliteration. The commons receive heavier alliteration: in stanza 8 Skelton asks them, “what frantyk frensy fyll in youre brayne?” ( 51). By stanza 12, he uses this alliterative line when he is at his most satirical: “They buskt them on a bushment them selfe in baile to bringe / Agayne the kingis plesure to wrastle or to wringe. / Bluntly as bestis withe boste and with cry / They saide they forsede not nor carede not to dye” (81– 84). As Skelton develops his theme of the “double chayn” he blurs the knights and squires that serve Northumberland into this heavier alliterative line: the line that introduces the central ambiguity, “were not thes commones uncurteis karlis of kind,” refers both to the commoners and retainers ( 34). Ultimately in answer to his initial question of what “froward entente, / Confetered togeder of commoun concente” (26 –27; a question phrased though a heavy alliterative line itself ) is this alliterative line, one that represents more than merely commons and lords, but rather the way power moves through English society in ways that confound easy class division. Henry’s easy dismissal of the protesters’ identity denies the connections between the classes of English society, which their political action proves. Skelton, on the other hand, uses the uprising to parallel literary and political traditions; both he and the protesters are “makers of new rumours” in that they attempt to break into a new vernacular authority but, unable to do so, are doubled over with what

v e r n a c u l a r h u m a n i s m 269

Kuskin Ch 6

11/15/07

9:35 AM

Page 270

they attempt to escape; thus they are complicit with and subversive to the very authority that constitutes them as poetical and political subjects of the English state. The observation contains the same point as John Russell’s “double ie”: the political system is fundamentally instable, ambivalent in terms of its allegiances. What grounds it is not simply truth, but pre-existing structures of authority. For Skelton and Russell these structures are literary; for Henry and Oxford they are monarchial. This doubling, I suggest, is what makes Skelton’s political argument attractive to the aristocracy even as he critiques their performance. The only remaining manuscript containing the poem, B.L. MS Royal 18.D.ii, gives us some sense of how it was received. This manuscript is a lavishly decorated composite volume belonging to the earl’s family, the Percys, and containing the famous illustrated versions of Lydgate’s Siege of Troy and Siege of Thebes, among other pieces. By best estimation the manuscript was begun around 1470, with Skelton’s poem added in later, perhaps as late as 1500.44 Though Skelton focuses on friction within the earl’s party and ostentatiously rejects Chaucerian polished verse, the manuscript reveals him speaking to an aristocratic audience that seems to have read him as complementary to the Chaucerian canon, indeed, which placed his poem to the actual texts that established the terms polished and illuminated. In fact, the very stanza in which Skelton claims to be unpolished stands out from the rest of the poem for its especially polished red and blue decoration (fig. 6.1). Thus, the illumination o±ers a reading of Skelton’s poem attentive to his self-construction as a poet and consistent with how Caxton presents him in the Eneydos prologue; taken in the context of the manuscript overall, it suggests an appreciation of Skelton’s almost paradoxical attempt to stand out from the Chaucerian canon even as he is engulfed in its terms. This lesson should not have been lost on a nobility that defined its own authority through its relationship to the monarch: that is, like Skelton’s own construction of a literary persona, fifteenth-century political identity is created less through the static terms of the feudal system than through a juxtaposition of entrepreneurial autonomy and allegiance to centralized power. The poem’s physical presentation highlights its construction of authority in other ways as well. By using “Upon the Dolorus Dethe” to construct an “unpullysht” poetic, Skelton makes his entrance into an aristocratic environment that combines the ornately polished verse of

270 p r i n t a n d s o c i a l o r g a n i z at i o n

Kuskin Ch 6

11/15/07

9:35 AM

Page 271

Figure 6.1. John Skelton, “Upon the Dolorus Dethe.” British Library MS Royal 18.D.ii., 166. By permission of the British Library.

Kuskin Ch 6

11/15/07

9:35 AM

Page 272

the mid-fifteenth century with the scholarly tropes rapidly coming into vogue at the turn of the sixteenth century. We see this at a number of points in B.L. MS Royal 18.D.ii. For example, as the poem proceeds toward its pious ending, its final page visually explodes with ornate decoration (fig. 6.2). Rather than closing the poem with somber reflection, these illuminations in their intensity dramatically underscore its connection to impressive financial means and are particularly stunning after the restrained illustrations of the Lydgate poems. Indeed, the poem’s presentation as a whole seems geared to announce Skelton’s authority as a poet laureate, and its opening banner showcases Skelton’s title, “Poeta Skelton Laureatus” (fig. 6.3). This banner presents Skelton’s authority as stemming from his academic credentials, yet even here we find him contained by the Chaucerian canon: as Lerer points out, since James I of Scotland’s Kingis Quair—a work, like Lydgate’s, written in the 1420s—Chaucer had been identified with the title poet laureate. In fact, as I have argued in chapter 3, the authority vested in the title is actually announced by Chaucer in the prologue to the Clerk’s Tale. The passage sets the terms of writing in the fifteenth century, and Skelton cannot evade them: though he inserts a distance from the Chaucerian canon, his authority is still constructed through it, and this is true for both the poem’s intellectual production of the poet laureate and its physical reproduction in the Percy manuscript. Be this as it may, I believe it is a mistake to see Skelton entirely as a reader of Chaucer, writing only in that poet’s shadow. Skelton’s title of the poet laureate in the late fifteenth century di±ers significantly from Chaucer’s use of Petrarch, and Skelton goes well beyond courtly poetasters such as de la Pole and Woodville to inhabit the Chaucerian mantle on his own terms. He accomplishes what the anonymous author of “Myn Hert ys Set” could not, e±ectively presenting his distance from Chaucer while also occupying his place. The di¤culty of this move is marked by his alternating use and alienation of Chaucerian terms, and his success is ratified by his formal assumption of the role of poet laureate. For Skelton is the second Lydgate. Indeed, Skelton’s early career demonstrates that the title of poet laureate is acknowledged by English universities and sponsored by the court, and as Caxton reports in his prologue, by 1490 Skelton had been presented with his laureateship from the University of Oxford. In 1493 this degree was also recognized by Cambridge, where

272 p r i n t a n d s o c i a l o r g a n i z at i o n

Kuskin Ch 6

11/15/07

9:35 AM

Page 273

Figure 6.2. John Skelton, “Upon the Dolorus Dethe.” British Library MS Royal 18.D.ii., 166v. By permission of the British Library.

Kuskin Ch 6

11/15/07

9:35 AM

Page 274

Figure 6.3. John Skelton, “Upon the Dolorus Dethe.” British Library MS Royal 18.D.ii., 165. By permission of the British Library.

Henry himself granted Skelton a laureate’s gown. Later, Skelton received the laureateship from Louvain as well. Further, between 1494 and 1495 he became tutor to Prince Henry, on November 11, 1497, he received 20s. for his first Mass and, more speculatively, in December of that year he was given a further £3 6s. 8d. as “my lady the Kinges moder poet.”45 Skelton’s early assertion of his authority as a poet laureate is not unique to “Upon the Dolorus Dethe,” but is also evident in his contemporary translation of Poggio’s version of Diodorus Siculus’s Bibliotheca historica. In book 4, Skelton refers to Helicon’s well, the nine muses, and their musical sciences—all points referenced in Caxton’s allusion. The Bibliotheca also tells of a process of impression at the origins of literary authority: “this famous Homere that so habundantly was enmoistured and plenarly refresshed with the hevenly licour of Eliconyes well, whose hed Phebus environd with the laurell victorious, was that poete which / all othere surmounted among the Grekes in glorye of pullished termes and elect vtteraunce.”46 Homer is “environd” by the laurel as his imagination is subjected to Apollo’s rule. His initiation into the laureate ranks is thus a

274 p r i n t a n d s o c i a l o r g a n i z at i o n

Kuskin Ch 6

11/15/07

9:35 AM

Page 275

conferment of authority from a still greater authority. Thus Skelton’s depiction of the passage of literary authority in the classical history of the laureateship mirrors his own attainment of it in the fifteenth century. As the passage continues, it moves even closer to the Eneydos by discussing “how Cadmus out from Venicians brought the first lettres.” Skelton’s translation of the Bibliotheca historica demonstrates that the Eneydos’s adaptation of Boccaccio’s history of writing is not just some random interpolation but plays into the fifteenth century’s larger interest in classical authority. Taken with “Upon the Dolorus Dethe,” it shows Skelton developing the laureate identity he relies on so heavily in his later poetry by casting himself as reproducing the history of laureate authority for his contemporary English audience. This authority at once allows Skelton to resolve his poem and, more importantly, gives him authority aligned with aristocratic power. Skelton’s poem achieves its durability—indeed, Skelton achieves a persona that proves to stand him his entire career—by constructing Lydgate’s aureate language, his own laureate erudition, and material opulence as a powerful union against mutability. By 1489 a generation of men including Grey, Free, Tiptoft, Gunthorpe, Russell, and Shirwood—even Henry himself—had studied on the Continent, written and translated texts, and returned to England to apply what they learned.47 Continental and English universities began to grant the laureateship as a scholarly degree, and Henry drew substantially on such learning, assembling almost two-thirds of his bench of bishops from lawyers trained in civil law rather than theologians, and employing a number of such scholars in high-profile positions: Bernard André, the blind poet laureate from Toulouse, was the “King’s Poet” and tutor to Prince Arthur; Petrus Carmelianus was Henry’s Latin secretary; and Johannes de Gigliis the resident papal ambassador, who became, with his brother Silvestro as proxy, bishop of Worcester. In 1485 Henry appointed Peter Actors, a London and Oxford bookseller, his stationer, and in 1492 he appointed Quentin Poulet his royal librarian.48 André and Skelton both wrote occasional poetry for Henry, for example their Latin flytings for the French ambassador Gaguin in 1490. André was historian and tutor to Prince Arthur from 1496 to 1500, and his major works include “Les douze triomphes de Henry VII” (in which he likens Henry’s achievements to Hercules’) and his unfinished Vita Henrici Septimi, which chronicles Henry’s reign in verse episodes. He wrote on the Yorkshire uprising

v e r n a c u l a r h u m a n i s m 275

Kuskin Ch 6

11/15/07

9:35 AM

Page 276

as well in a part of the Vita Henrici Septimi, De nortumbrorum comitis nece and this work a±ords a useful contrast to Skelton’s because it also uses literary authority to stage its reading of the events but does so from the position of a Latinate poetic.49 De nortumbrorum is less interested in the politics that inspired the event than with Henry’s role as king, and, with the exception of the title, Henry entirely displaces Northumberland within the poem.50 Ultimately, the entire uprising is enveloped in classical literary tropes. So, rather than a chivalric hero, Henry is decked in the laurel crown (“Lauriger princeps, placidusque, mitis”), and rather than commoners, he faces furors (9–10). If De nortumbrorum makes its statement without the specificity of “Upon the Dolorus Dethe,” it reminds us that the occurrence of the Yorkshire uprising was hardly unique: before 1500 Henry had to contend with a number of rebellions, including Lionel Simnel’s, Perkin Warbeck’s, the Ackworth Rebellion of 1492, the uprisings of 1489 and 1497, and innumerable smaller ones.51 André’s poem di±ers from Skelton’s in terms of its analysis of the actual event—for Skelton it is an opportunity for a specific critique, for André it has no specificity—but not in terms of its insistence on literary authority as an axis of social power. As much as André filters the Yorkshire uprising through a screen of classical motifs, he extracts its politics and transforms it into an occasion to discuss the cultural importance of literary authority. This gives André the opportunity to demarcate his own role in the political sphere. After Henry has eliminated the immediate threat, André describes a Britain of pastoral harmony (“Ut diuturna liceat Britannis / Vivere pace” [in order that Britons are allowed to live in long-lived peace], 11–12) replete, in stanza 11, with butting kids bounding through ruddy blooming clovers. The pastoral imagery grants the poem a political stability absent from Skelton’s “Upon the Dolorus Dethe,” yet this state remains threatened by internal dangers that require constant vigilance: “Inter audaces lupus erret agnos, Hoste subacto” (Between the bold lambs the wolf roams, the enemy having been subdued; 43–44). So André, no noble warrior like Henry, too works the fields: “Dure jam pratis vacuus maneto / Cum bove, arator” (hardly free from labor I remain in the meadows with the bulls, the ploughmen; 39–40). André’s inclusion of his own role insists on his importance and, in doing so, allows Henry a channel through which to appropriate literary authority for political service. Aligned with such au-

276 p r i n t a n d s o c i a l o r g a n i z at i o n

Kuskin Ch 6

11/15/07

9:35 AM

Page 277

thority, Henry is able to extend his overall franchise on authority through an additional social plane, and André’s career in particular demonstrates Henry’s financial investment in such authority: in 1486 André was granted a pension of ten marks “in consideration of the increase in virtue and learning coming to many at Oxford and elsewhere from his teaching”;52 in 1498 he added Church preferments, the rewards of which were commuted to a pension of £24 a year upon his retirement; and from 1500 on he received an annual new year’s gift of 100s. in return for his work on a Tudor chronicle. Discursive, aestheticized, bookish, and self-conscious, this laureate system produces literary authority in the service of the state. Henry’s court therefore illustrates a system in which poetry and scholarship—particularly humanist learning and vernacular writing—are codified through institutional a¤liation, public rank, and royal patronage. Though Skelton’s vernacular construction of literary authority is unique amongst Henry’s scholars, the assertion of laureate authority is not, and it connects him to a much larger literary system—a laureate system—in which poetry and persona are institutionally sponsored through royal patronage. Presented in a manuscript like B.L. MS Royal 18.D.ii, it enables the social groups possessing financial power to appropriate physically the symbolic field. In his prologue to the Eneydos Caxton consciously works to fashion himself as within this laureate system. As much as Caxton’s allusion to Skelton’s poetry contextualizes his division between the rude Northern man and the honest clerk and noble gentleman in the factional politics of the early Tudor government, it also solidifies his persona in the context of a developing laureate system in which literary authority is put to political ends. This strikes an important contrast to the Recuyell: there Caxton described himself as stymied by the process of translation; here he also depicts himself as “sittyng in my studye where as laye many dyuerse paunflettis and bookys” and somewhat frustrated, but over the course of his discussion of language he reveals himself to be a bibliographical authority the Abbot of Westminster regards highly enough to consult on his Anglo-Saxon “euydences.” In the Eneydos, Caxton appears as anecdotal and conversational but nevertheless an authority among authorities, and this marks a shift in his positioning of print. Further, the titles Caxton uses to assert Skelton’s authority are all texts he translated or printed as well: not only did he both translate and print versions of Ovid and Virgil, he also translated a portion of the “boke of

v e r n a c u l a r h u m a n i s m 277

Kuskin Ch 6

11/15/07

9:35 AM

Page 278

dyodorus syculus”—a copy of which, Thomas E. Marston points out, was in Johannes de Gigliis’s possession53—in the prologue to the Polychronicon, and his three-part volume Of Old Age; Of Friendship; Of Nobility contained translations of Cicero’s De senectute and De amicitia. Further still, Caxton worked with the intellectuals at Henry’s court, and we should not forget his connections to the nobility of the Tudor court, notably, to the Earl of Oxford, John de Vere, who wrote John Paston III of “certeyne persones of comvnes,” and to Margaret Beaufort. An Ex Libris by William Purde in a single copy of Caxton’s 1482 Polychronicon names Caxton regis impressore, King’s Printer.54 Read as within this laureate system, Caxton’s division between clerkly and rude readers focuses his own voice as a writer. Returning to the prologue, we see Caxton’s choice of language for his translation should be clear: he should choose either a polished and curious language with which to appeal to an aristocracy interested in English scholarship and familiar with the Chaucerian tradition or a rude language aimed at a broader audience. Rather than translating exclusively for either, Caxton concludes, “Therfor in a meane bytwene bothe I have reduced & translated this sayd booke in to our englysshe not ouer rude ne curyous but in suche termes as shall be vnderstanden” (A2). Like Skelton, then, Caxton writes an English that is at once learned but also unpolished, one that connects the Chaucerian canon to the New Learning, as well as to the diverse elements of English polity. This middle vernacular grants both Caxton and Skelton a persona that reflects their own experiences with the noble and common classes. Both find conflict in this connection, conflict they articulate as a mutability natural and traditional. Caxton tells, “For we englysshe men / ben borne vnder the domynacyon of the mone. whiche is neuer stedfaste / but euer wauerynge / wexynge one season / and waneth & dyscreaseth another season” (A1v). Echoing both Skelton and Malory, the charge that English culture waxes and wanes is not one of Caxton’s most original claims; in the context of the printed text, however, I believe it stands out. Skelton’s poem was disseminated within an elite literary circle. The most cursory glance at a page of the Eneydos makes it clear that it is not in the same financial realm as the handwritten Percy manuscript (fig. 6.4). At the very least, Caxton’s text—printed with neither illuminations nor illustrations, in a thick black Burgundian-based type, and translated into a “mean” somewhere between curious and rude—is geared for wider circu-

278 p r i n t a n d s o c i a l o r g a n i z at i o n

Kuskin Ch 6

11/15/07

9:35 AM

Page 279

lation. Caxton thus opens English literature up to a broader audience, o±ering it as a way for the rude and curious reader alike to conceptualize their culture as composed of a range of subjects speaking in various dialects but still linked. Nevertheless, elements of Caxton’s prologue—his references to “elycons well” and his deference to the sophisticated literary language of clerks and courtly poets—point back to the exclusive circles of manuscript culture inhabited by academic scholars and aristocratic readers fully vested in literary authority. In this, Caxton’s Eneydos participates in the ideological program of Henry’s laureate system by maintaining that a subscription to classical literature is also a subscription to aristocratic authority. No books for Mayster Hobbe Hyrste; the Eneydos operates by the same logic as Henry’s proclamation: stability lies in the assertion of monarchial power and a unified, centralized state. Although Caxton passes over any discussion of Dido in this prologue, the issue of gender is not altogether absent from his prologue, and it returns in his discussion of the mutability of language. Caxton inserts his famous anecdote in the midst of his catalogue of linguistic change: In my dayes happened that certayn marchauntes were in a shippe in tamyse for to haue sayled ouer the see into zelande / and for lacke of wynde thei taryed atte forlond. and wente to lande for to refreshe them And one of theym named she±elde a mercer cam in to an hows and axed for mete . and specyally he axyd after eggys And the goode wyf answered . that she coude speke no frenshe . And the marchaunt was angry . for he also coude speke no frenshe .but wolde haue hadde egges / and she vnderstode hym not / And thenne at laste a nother sayd that he wolde haue eyren / then the good wyf sayd that she vnderstod hym wel / Loo what sholde a man in thyse days now wryte . egges or eyren / certaynly it is harde to playse euery man / by cause of dyuersite & chaunge of langage. (A1v) The anecdote recapitulates Caxton’s analysis of language, and all his levels of change are present: temporal change is recorded in his emphasis that the story comes from his youth, national di±erence in the wife’s mistaken belief that the mercer speaks French, and regional di±erence in its overwhelming use of precise place names, a use carried over to the central Mercer’s name, She¤eld.55 Within this structure, the “goode wyf ” re-

v e r n a c u l a r h u m a n i s m 279

Kuskin Ch 6

11/15/07

9:35 AM

Page 280

Figure 6.4. The Eneydos, A1. Translated and printed by William Caxton, Westminster, 1490 (STC 24796). British Library IB.55135. By permission of the British Library.

Kuskin Ch 6

11/15/07

9:35 AM

Page 281

produces the “rude vplondish man” as female, Southern, and domestic rather than male, Northern, and political. An odd point surrounds this, for though the story claims to emphasize the di¤culties of dialect, the problems of understanding are entirely unidirectional: while ostensibly regional di±erence colors all their discourse, She¤eld and his companion have no trouble understanding the good wife; only she is obtuse (“and she vnderstode hym not”). Where the rude man fails to make himself understood, the good wife fails to understand. The result is that She¤eld’s companion must act as an interpreter, translating his request into her dialect. Thus, in the reappearance of gender in Caxton’s prologue translation is given as a male prerogative in which the text—“eyren”—must be interpreted by masculine authority. Here then is vernacular humanism watered down to its most vulgar: instead of Jerome translating Cicero or the compilers of Ovide Moralisé and the Livre des Eneydes trying to rationalize a theory for the text, Mercers attempt to get a late dinner out of a good wife. So, Caxton o±ers anecdotal experience as a way of conceiving of language and its di±erence. Caxton consciously parallels himself with Skelton, then, but his writing encompasses a di±erent reader than the poet laureate’s. Whether Skelton’s poem was commissioned exclusively by the Percys, read aloud at court, or existed in other manuscripts, British Library MS Royal 18.D.ii testifies that by the early sixteenth century it was disseminated within the elite social circle of nobility. This audience appears to have been relatively closed to early printed books. For example, the few printed editions contained in the Royal Library came from Antoine Vérard’s Parisian press, of which Janet Backhouse writes: The one class of book which the Tudor king can be shown to have collected with what seems to have been a consistent personal enthusiasm over a long period [was] the illuminated versions of the printed library books produced in the Paris workshops of Antoine Vérard . . . The best of these books were never a poor man’s substitute for illuminated manuscripts, but major acquisitions in their own right.56 Vérard sold these presentation copies at prices similar to those of manuscripts (Gordon Kipling records the price of £6 for a two-volume Le jardin de santé ), many times over anything Caxton might charge for his

v e r n a c u l a r h u m a n i s m 281

Kuskin Ch 6

11/15/07

9:35 AM

Page 282

printed editions.57 In contrast, Skelton’s Bibliotheca historica remains in Corpus Christi, Cambridge 357, a much less impressive paper and vellum manuscript belonging to Robert Pen, a gentleman of the chapel under Henry VII and Henry VIII.58 Yet as we have seen with the Winchester Malory, even these less impressive manuscripts were substantially more expensive than Caxton’s editions. Caxton thus resolves his search for an appropriate language not in a vernacular shared by all classes but in a double vernacular, one that like Skelton’s double chain recognizes the complex tiering of medieval society but finds within it a sense of newfangled duplicity, of mutability, and so claims sympathies with the nobility. As a book, the Eneydos participates in his resolution by providing a material form that is neither exactly the same as the illuminated manuscript nor a close approximation. For the Eneydos is no more “a poor man’s substitute” for an illuminated manuscript than Vérard’s. It operates on a di±erent register: if Skelton’s poem tells its aristocratic audience of conflicts deep in English society, Caxton’s prologue exports this ideology to his larger print audience. Caxton may o±er his middle class of readers access to literary authority, but by referencing Skelton’s poem, paralleling himself with laureate reading practices and announcing the pleasure of ornate language, he aligns himself with an aristocratic audience of readers, one fully vested in literary authority and fully aware of the linguistic pleasure of literature, yet to whom his products would seem workaday. And so, he o±ers this larger symbolic statement in a parallel material form. Ultimately, this articulation of material and symbolic forms is what is unique to late fifteenth-century literary culture.

The late fifteenth century occupies a foundational position in the development of public authorial identity and the printing of political material. Caxton’s Eneydos demonstrates this in three ways. Chiefly, it suggests a form of vernacular humanism involved in recovering textual history, identifying classical authorial precedent for contemporary writing, and rationalizing a theory for the secular reading of the ancients. In England, this vernacular humanism appears as deeply ambivalent, crosscut by a doubleness. Whether expressed as Russell’s “double ie,” Skelton’s “double chayn,” or Caxton’s “wauerynge” and “wexynge” moon, fifteenth-century vernacular humanism attempts to counter a fundamen282 p r i n t a n d s o c i a l o r g a n i z at i o n

Kuskin Ch 6

11/15/07

9:35 AM

Page 283

tal sense of epistemological mutability with literary authority, but never does so entirely and thus remains not only self-conscious but to a certain extent self-condemning. Second, Henry’s financial investment in the poet laureate underscores the profound interest fifteenth-century writers, patrons, and readers had in using classical scholarship to create a public identity. Finally, Caxton’s introduction of the press draws upon the doubleness inherent in English culture as an essential part of his strategy, for in order to transform the relatively exclusive manuscript into the printed book without debasing his texts’ value, Caxton makes discursive the literary authority that manuscripts evoke through their sumptuous design. Such a strategy is both intellectual and material: by appealing to established literary conventions of manuscript circulation Caxton creates a relationship between the symbols of and audience for an English literary canon; by producing his texts as visibly di±erent from the presentation manuscripts the nobility actually commissioned, he makes this authority available to a wide audience.

v e r n a c u l a r h u m a n i s m 283

Kuskin Epilogue

11/15/07

9:37 AM

Page 284

Epilogue

The Archival Imagination (or What Goodes Has to Say)

I am to bryttell I may not endure. —Goodes 1

Much of Symbolic Caxton has been concerned with death: with the appearance of death that illustrates the first visual rendering of the printing press, with the beheadings of various English courtiers, with the romance of warfare in distant lands, with Dido’s suicide, with the transformation of material substances from one state to the next: manuscript to print and books to capital. Caxton printed a number of texts overtly concerned with death, too, manuals on the steps necessary for preparing oneself for salvation and indulgences that ensured one’s passage in the afterlife. Fittingly, though he printed these texts throughout his life, the theme of death begins to weigh heavily in his portfolio in his last years.2 Death is a defining theme of fifteenth-century studies.3 This is true not simply because the literature of the period is obsessed with notions of death—surely all periods are so preoccupied—but because for modern scholarship the fifteenth century must die in order for modernity to emerge as markedly new. More broadly, then, if the companion volume to this monograph, Caxton’s Trace, is about the birth and adolescence of English print, Symbolic Caxton has been about the interlocked nature of beginnings and end284

Kuskin Epilogue

11/15/07

9:37 AM

Page 285

ings. Rather than tell a literary history of life and death, I suggest that such binary relationships harden and loosen in a process of symbolic transformation, one that permeates the chronological boundaries of literary history. So, Symbolic Caxton argues that the medieval is both discrete from and forever part of the modern, and at its close I suggest that one way out of these binaries is through the archival imagination, the intellectual recognition that the self-reflective nature of the textual archive demands a similarly reflective process of reading. Scholarship has relied on a principle of historical separation in its discussion of the late Middle Ages and the early modern period. This is clearly identifiable in the major literary histories currently on the market.4 One particularly cogent example of this sense of the break between the fifteenth- and sixteenth-century literary cultures comes near the end of Lotte Hellinga and J. B. Trapp’s The Cambridge History of the Book in Britain. In their chapter entitled “Literary Texts,” Julia Bo±ey and A.S.G. Edwards conclude by drawing a line in the 1550s. I quote them at length, because their argument is clear and definitive: The 1550s, however, are an obvious watershed in the history of English poetry, a decade of both retrospection and innovation. These years saw the final reprintings—until the twentieth century— of the major works of Lydgate and of his disciple Stephen Hawes, and of Thynne’s first collected Chaucer. They also saw the first printings of Tottel’s Miscellany and The Mirror for Magistrates, as well as the first printing in England of Gavin Douglas’s Eneydos, the harbinger of several later sixteenth-century translations of Virgil, the manuscript of which is preserved in Trinity College Cambridge. The decade is not a clear-cut point of transition. It does, however, see a discernible shift, a reorientation of literary emphases and priorities that adumbrates, in the history of the book, new developments that are more appropriately the subject of the history of the Renaissance book.5 Bo±ey and Edwards speak with authority, and their conclusion here is firm: acknowledging that the 1550s are not “a clear-cut point of transition,” they argue for a decade of “retrospection and innovation” that heralds a discernable shift, a renaissance. The argument is of a piece with the

e p i l o g u e 285

Kuskin Epilogue

11/15/07

9:37 AM

Page 286

plan of the volume as a whole, for Hellinga and Trapp begin with a clear di±erentiation between fifteenth-century manuscript culture, which they choose not to treat, and print culture, which they argue is “all but complete by our terminal date of 1557.”6 Indeed, it is of a piece with the larger story the Cambridge editions tell overall. Just as David Wallace’s History of Medieval Literature comes to a close with the fifteenth century, the Cambridge History of Early Modern English Literature dedicates a few carefully researched pages of its section on the history of print to the work of William Caxton and his contemporaries before moving on to subsections boldly entitled “The Triumph of the Book” and “The Emergence of the Author.”7 Oxford University Press o±ers a similar assessment. Here James Simpson’s Oxford English Literary History, volume 2, 1350–1547 Reform and Cultural Revolution is far more sympathetic to the writers of the fifteenth century, particularly Lydgate, but just as locked into categorical definitions based on period and the importance of the work over the text. So, literary production remains as occurring through the scrim of periodization: “complex” in the medieval world and “simplif[ied] and centraliz[ed]” in the early modern; the books themselves, books that I argue are palimpsests, which are continually complex as they move through time, are somewhat lost in the face of ideas.8 Each case relies upon a principle of historical separation, a scholarship of category, for the explanatory force of literary history. But what of the evidence? The 1550s do not see the end of printing of Lydgate, but, in fact, his transformation into a powerful authorial role. From Thynne’s 1561 edition of Chaucer’s Workes (STC 5075), Lydgate’s Siege of Thebes is included in the Chaucerian canon as a continuation to the Canterbury Tales, reprinted with Lydgate’s name as part of the title throughout the late sixteenth century. Lydgate is discussed in the literary prefaces to Chaucer and in E. K.’s preface to Spenser’s Shephearde’s Calender. Separate editions of his major works are published in the seventeenth century, such as Thomas Purfoot’s 1614 Life and Death of Hector (STC 5581.5). The Mirror for Magistrates is itself a continuation of Lydgate’s Fall of Princes. Lydgate lives: he continues in literary history as a named author, one consistently associated with Chaucer but also identified with a brand of vernacular humanism associated with Boccaccio’s retelling of the Troy story. It is worth pausing over this vernacular humanism, for it too complicates any notion of break between the medieval past and the modern 286 s y m b o l i c c a x t o n

Kuskin Epilogue

11/15/07

9:37 AM

Page 287

present. Bo±ey and Edwards suggest that Gavin Douglas’s Scottish Aeneid begins a new tradition of direct translation of Virgil’s text. The claim appears undisputable. Yet the sixteenth-century reworkings of the Troy story are quite conscious of fifteenth-century tellings: Gavin Douglas may be a translator of Virgil, but he is also a careful reader of Chaucer and Caxton. So, he may dismiss Caxton’s version as a “shameful perversion” of Virgil’s story, but he studies it to stage his own.9 If Douglas heralds a new treatment of Virgil, he also testifies to the ongoing readership of Caxton’s. Just so, Caxton’s first Troy story, the Recuyell, was reprinted by de Worde in 1502 (STC 15376) and 1503 (STC 15377), by Copland in 1553 (STC 15378), and by one of Shakespeare’s own publishers, Thomas Creede and Valentine Simmes, in 1597 (STC 15379). Caxton’s name appears in all of these editions. Overall, the Recuyell was reprinted no fewer than twelve times through the seventeenth century, and Shakespeare in fact drew on it for his Troilus and Cressida.10 Bo±ey and Edwards bracket their claim in qualifiers—chronology is of course not convenient, nothing is clear cut, the large-scale shift they suggest is merely adumbrated— but their argument draws a thick dividing line in the 1550s. As a result it tends toward categorical divisions—the Renaissance Book—that obscure the complex give and take between the two periods. If we look closer at the last text Bo±ey and Edwards present as demarking a dividing line, Sir Richard Tottel’s edition of poetry entitled the Songes and Sonnettes (STC 13862), we can understand the connections within the symbolic economy of books more closely. The notion of the printed poetry collection is itself forecast by the composite anthology. Given this observation, Tottel’s originality lies less in the format of his volume than in his overall positioning of the Songes and Sonnettes, in his public assertion of vernacular poetry as capable of conveying literary authority. “Our tong is able in that kynde to do as praise worthely as the rest,” he writes in his preface, concluding by placing it in relationship to his audience: If parhappes some mislike the statelyness of style remoued from the rude skil of common eares : I aske help of the learned to defende theyr learned frendes, the authors of this woorke: And I exhort the unlearned, by reading to learne to be more skilful, and to purge that swinelike grossenesse that maketh the sweete marjorame not to smel to their delight. (A.i.v) e p i l o g u e 287

Kuskin Epilogue

11/15/07

9:37 AM

Page 288

Tottel presents his text as naturally aristocratic—sweet marjoram that the swinelike common reader might fail to appreciate. He makes plain, too, that by reading his text the categories of learned and unlearned can be overcome, that in exchange for the admission of swinelike grossness, readers can purge themselves of their debased state, and “be more skilful.” Yet Caxton also put courtiers such as Woodville into print and certainly elaborated a courtly context for literature. He too discusses the linguistic registers of class, juxtaposing the self-important rustic “uttering his communication and matters in such manners and terms” with the noble poet John Skelton who speaks “not in rude and old language, but in polished and ornate terms.” Tottel is, perhaps, somewhat more blatant than Caxton, who, as I read him at least, is both more cautious and conflicted about plainly delineating the possibilities for the kind of wholesale social climbing that he himself performed. This is an important modulation, yet we should not exaggerate its originality: fifteenthcentury writers are highly self-conscious about the fashioning of literary persona, culture, and history in relation to national identity; to neglect their output is to imagine the end of history. As a particular way of situating the archival imagination in terms of such scholarship of category, I would like to turn to an important text of the medieval period, one that appears strangely late in the day: the morality play Everyman. By common consent Everyman is a centerpiece in the medieval dramatic canon: the Norton Anthology of English Literature includes it under the category of “Middle English Literature” as “the best surviving example of that kind of medieval drama that is known as the morality play,” and the popular Bedford Introduction to Drama identifies it as one of the chief examples of the period.11 David Bevington dates the play around 1495 in his authoritative Medieval Drama and weaves it into a story of fourteenth-century literary production. “The morality play had virtually no precedents in earlier church drama,” he writes. “It was essentially a new genre for the stage in the late fourteenth century.”12 By dating Everyman at 1495 but still identifying its generic allegiance firmly with the Middle Ages, Bevington sidesteps the central problem of its late appearance. In what follows I do not intend to prove Everyman a modern play. Rather I probe the implications of period to suggest that literary history has held to this scholarship of category—a way of thinking married to the closure of periods and insu¤cient to explain the complex rela-

288 s y m b o l i c c a x t o n

Kuskin Epilogue

11/15/07

9:37 AM

Page 289

tionship between the medieval and the modern, the past and the present, the literary and the material. Such material forms demand an imaginative engagement from their readers. There are no manuscripts of Everyman. The text remains in four sixteenth-century printed editions: two partial versions by the printer Richard Pynson, and two complete texts by John Skot.13 The survival of four distinct print runs lead the text’s first major editor, W. W. Greg, to posit at least ten editions overall, suggesting—given a conservative average print run of five hundred copies—some five thousand copies of Everyman in circulation before 1530.14 The figure is astounding on two counts: foremost, it confounds the notion that early printing was small scale; second, it raises a question—what were five thousand readers doing with a medieval morality play in the first third of the sixteenth century? The problem with five thousand copies of Everyman and with 20 million premodern books is one and the same—it suggests a thriving literary industry before the modern period. How can Everyman be simultaneously medieval and an artifact of large-scale commerce? One answer to this question is that it doesn’t really exist. This is suggested most clearly by Joseph Dane and Rosemary Roberts, who have taken particular issue with Greg’s ten editions of Everyman, following out their initial skepticism at his figures with an elaborate statistical rhetoric. Writing with some candor, they conclude: What is also interesting (and rather unnerving to one of us, who began this study believing that Greg had overestimated the number of early Everyman editions) is that relaxing some of Greg’s unstated restrictions produces in many cases larger estimates of numbers of editions—precisely the point Greg seemed to be trying to make! . . . Are we to imagine dozens of lost editions of Everyman?15 Dane and Roberts maneuver. They argue that the remaining four copies may reflect “specific external factors” such as the whims of collectors and of book stock, that partial editions are not evidence of whole books, and that such fragments may simply be “trial editions, aborted editions, and proof-sheets.”16 To the larger issue of volume, Dane would restrict Febvre and Martin’s 20 million books to perhaps 8 million.17 Dane’s point is undeniable: the count of 20 million is hypothetical and speculative; it

e p i l o g u e 289

Kuskin Epilogue

11/15/07

9:37 AM

Page 290

superimposes a modern notion of the book as an object governed by a title and bound by covers over a fundamentally more flexible notion of the textual object. Dane is right: it is simply impossible to assert a hard and fast count of titles as separate books for a culture that largely sold its books unbound, that freely made anthologies out of separate editions, that left few quantitative production records. In place of Edwards and Bo±ey’s scholarship of category, then, Dane might o±er a criticism of skepticism in which the material archive leads only to a greater awareness of history’s opacity. With Dane, I agree that any discussion of a monolithic “print culture” is misguided; but I would also suggest that it is possible to listen to what these textual goods have to say. I would like to sketch a reading of this paradoxical object, Everyman, by beginning at its end, on the last page of the last of the four remaining editions, Skot’s 1535 edition of Everyman. Here we find Skot’s printer’s mark (fig. E.1). Skot worked as a printer for Caxton’s successor, Wynkyn de Worde, who commonly outsourced jobs to smaller printers. Skot’s editions thus initially appear under a variation of Caxton’s mark. With his 1522 History of Jacob (STC 14324), however, Skot presents his own sign, a variant of the mark we see here. R. B. McKerrow records the actual mark we see on Everyman as appearing on Skot’s 1521 edition of Christine de Pizan’s Bodye of Polyce (STC 7270), but I have not been able to reproduce this, and instead find it first in the 1525 edition of Mayde Emyl (STC 7681). In any case, all of Skot’s marks hold to the same basic triangular layout of two figures flanking a shield capped by a helmet.18 This motif was a popular one and seems to begin in the 1480s with Johannes Veldener.19 The design spread with the technology of printing through the Low Countries, and then to Paris where, in the early sixteenth century, it appears in various forms with leopards, satyrs, unicorns, greyhounds, horses, sheep, bears, and even rabbits. So, Skot’s mark is part of a much larger English importation of the design into England in the first quarter of the sixteenth century, when it was used by a number of printers. Thus, on the most superficial layer, the mark is part of a visual lexicon identified with European printing and taken up by the English. More specifically, Skot’s mark is a twofold appropriation from Richard Pynson, the earlier printer of Everyman and rival to Wynkyn de Worde. Pynson first used a similar design in his 1496 edition of Man-

290 s y m b o l i c c a x t o n

Kuskin Epilogue

11/15/07

9:37 AM

Page 291

Figure E.1. John Skot’s device. Everyman, D4v. Printed by John Skot, London, 1535 (STC 10606.5). By permission of the British Library.

deville’s Travels (fig. E.2; STC 17246). Note the layers of appropriation here: if Skot’s edition of Everyman follows on Pynson’s early edition—it is an appropriation from his catalogue—just so, Skot fashions for himself a mark that appropriates Pynson’s authority as a successful printer and stamps the literary product—Everyman—with this as a sign of his own

e p i l o g u e 291

Kuskin Epilogue

11/15/07

9:37 AM

Page 292

Figure E.2. Pynson’s device. The Boke of John Maunduyle, kivv. Printed by Richard Pynson, London, 1496 (STC 17246). British Library G.6713. By permission of the British Library.

name. Skot has actually appropriated Pynson’s familiar weaving as well, cleverly inserting his own initials on the main shield of his mark in a way actually reminiscent of Pynson’s first device (fig. 1.11). Text and design: Skot’s 1535 Everyman contains a twofold appropriation from Pynson. As we have seen, Pynson is not innocent of such appropriation himself.20

292 s y m b o l i c c a x t o n

Kuskin Epilogue

11/15/07

9:37 AM

Page 293

Again, if any one aspect of early English printing is paradoxical, it is the way the superficial roughness of these printer’s marks suggests a kind of naiveté, which belies a greater sophistication about the symbolic economy of the book. Turning to the beginning of the text, the opening woodcut of Skot’s edition shows Death hailing Everyman (fig. E.3). One reading of this hail might emphasize it as an endpoint, so that Everyman’s turn to death marks the end of a period as much as the end of his life. This is of a piece with the scholarly tradition that reads the fifteenth century as a waning of the Middle Ages, a death that allows modernity to be reborn. Rather than dividing medieval from early modern around the advent of print, I suggest a much larger symbolic truth about textual culture overall: books o±er their readers a material purchase on symbolic meaning. Books are special products in this way; they bear the names and notes of their owners, and are thus commodities that gravitate to personal record and individual biography. The di±erence of print lies not simply in the insertion of a mechanized process of reproduction, but in the way printers inflected the symbolic economy toward their own uses. So, I argue that the object of the book is self-reflective and imbricates the reader in its reproduction of meaning. I read the individual volumes of Everyman as branded with signs of print exchange through the printer’s mark, and I interpret the play’s plot as telling Everyman’s process of self-reflection on the nature of this exchange. For within the play, the allegorical personification of commodities—“Goodes”—lies around (he is too debauched to rise) and reflects on what it is to be a commodity. In e±ect, Everyman is a commodity about the nature of commodities. Given this, I think it is possible to return to the plot of Everyman and listen to what it can tell us about the literary commodity. Every aspect of Everyman argues against Goodes as any sort of repository of knowledge. God himself remarks disparagingly on the value of material things in the very beginning of the play, “In worldey ryches is all theyr mynde” (A.ii.), and Goodes would heartily agree: “For my loue is contrary / to the loue euerlastynge” (B.ii.v), he tells Everyman. But unlike the other allegorical characters within the play who ultimately abandon Everyman—Fellowship, Cousin and Kindred, Beauty and all its friends—Goodes knows himself well enough not to promise anything in advance—“I cannot stere / in packes low I lye” (B.ii.) —or to claim some

e p i l o g u e 293

Kuskin Epilogue

11/15/07

9:37 AM

Page 294

Figure E.3. Everyman, πa.i. Printed by John Skot, London, 1535 (STC 10606.5). By permission of the British Library.

Kuskin Epilogue

11/15/07

9:37 AM

Page 295

benefit beyond immediate satisfaction—“Where of I am gladde I must nedes laugh / I cannot be sad” (B.iii). Even the more improving allegorical characters—Good Deeds, Knowledge, Confession—are problematic and over the course of the play are proved weak, negligent, and pedantic. Goodes, however, is entirely honest, and his honesty comes from his selfreflection: Goodes knows himself and what he tells Everyman is this: “I am to bryttell I may not endure” (B.iiv). This, in essence, is his commentary on the nature of commodities: the material artifact of the book does not last, it is brittle and its pages fray. What I suggest, then, is that the literary archive is not just our reckoning of the fragmentary materials that remain to us, but the texts’ internal commentary on themselves. For Everyman announces that goods are brittle in form and content. The connection between these two axes of meaning—the arbitrary physicality of texts, and their intellectual commentary—is entirely imaginative but nevertheless striking: indeed, in this way Everyman speaks powerfully about its own status, and to ignore this speech and define the text’s sensibilities only by its physicality is to read it only by parts. To hear what Goodes has to say we have to be willing to read the imaginative connection between material objects and intellectual content. Thus, I define the archival imagination as the recognition of the self-reflective nature vested in the textual archive. Read more imaginatively, Everyman o±ers a theology of reckoning for extracting the figural from the literal. It announces this at its very opening, its title page telling us that the play is about how every “creature to come and gyue a counte.” Within the play Everyman himself is called “to a generall rekenynge” (A.ii), and God, reasoning out loud, tells himself, “Therefore I wyll in all the haste / Haue a rekenynge of euery mannes persone” (A.iiv). Death subsequently commands of Everyman “a rekenynge” (A.iiiv). The play in fact uses not only an economic language but a particularly bookish economics at that: for Death tells Everyman, “Therfore thy boke of counte w the thou brynge” (A.iiiv). Books figure throughout Everyman. For example, Everyman laments that he is not ready to add up his tally: ¶ Alas shall I haue no longer respyte I may saye deth geueth no warnynge To thynke on the it maketh my herte secke

eueryman

e p i l o g u e 295

Kuskin Epilogue

11/15/07

9:37 AM

Page 296

For all unredy is my boke of rekenynge But .xii. yere and I myght haue a bydynge My countynge boke I wolde make so clere That my rekenynge I sholde not need to fere (A.iv) Books in Everyman are directly connected to mercantile practice, and this is doubled over as a spiritual metaphor for the state of the self. Overtly, the rhetoric is not exceptional. Eamon Du±y suggests the play is part of a larger “bourgeoisification” of the liturgy: “Certainly the emergence of the morality plays in the later fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries points to the growth of a type of religious sensibility orientated to moral and religious generalities, rather than to the narrative and festive sweep of the Corpus Christi cycles,” but this too appeals to pre-existing categories to explain the text.21 Literature is reproductive; it participates in the conditions necessary to reproduce itself. In this case it comes not late to the bourgeois market economy but speaks to it, constructing a symbolic pathway through the detritus of material fragments that constitute and crowd out figural meaning. We may not know how many editions of Everyman lay unbound in stacks of paper in booksellers’ stalls and on consumers’ shelves between the years of 1515 and 1535, but we do know that this culture recognized that these books existed in a context of spiritual meaning, one alive to the tension of brittle goods and meaningful account. We know, too, that this culture—deem it not a print culture but a textual culture—thought deeply about how objects construct a depth beyond their material dimension, to become symbolically potent. What Goodes has to say is that books are brittle but nevertheless reflect on themselves. So, thousands of editions of Everyman have been lost to history. Goodes is right: the rule is that we don’t know even know what we have lost. Nevertheless, the chance survivals—the tattered indulgence, the few copies of Everyman—insist upon self-reflection. So Goodes, lying before us, announces that consumer products are everywhere in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, saturating the culture with textual material. This is confirmed by the brittle scraps we know: as I have discussed, Mary Erler counts a quarter million books of hours published between 1485 and 1530, enough in English to equip one out of every thirty-five Londoners; Mary Kay Duggan estimates that su¤cient

296 s y m b o l i c c a x t o n

Kuskin Epilogue

11/15/07

9:37 AM

Page 297

liturgical books were printed by 1500 to outfit each of the 3.3 million religious men and women throughout Europe with a brand new book and a half.22 None of these works originates with print—indeed they are the staples of medieval religion—but they become positioned as commodities in the fifteenth century, and this form inflects them according to a new register. So I suggest that Everyman is a commodity about the perils of living in this context, a product from a world immersed in the consumption of products. “I am a Bible,” announces the preface to Johann Amerbachs’s 1479 edition, continuing, “thoroughly corrected from Greek and Hebrew sources, and I am also beautiful. I call upon the gods and the stars as my witnesses: There is no printed Bible like me in the whole world.”23 So, too, Goodes speaks of the culture of the consumer, of a culture overwhelmed by commodities but nevertheless imagining itself through them, a culture that thought deeply about how objects construct a depth beyond their material dimension, to become symbolically potent. This culture is not distinct from the Middle Ages, rather it is the medieval dream of modernity made real.

Is Everyman a medieval play? Is the fifteenth century part of the Middle Ages? I have no clear answers to these dilemmas. I do know that goods are brittle and they do not endure. To hear what these goods have to say we have to be willing to read the imaginative connection between material objects and intellectual content, to be willing to entertain a literary history of continuity and ambivalence, one of a dynamic circularity in which medieval thinking remains available—paradoxically living because it is dead—through the form of the book. So I argue that the distance between Everyman as fourteenth-century morality play and Everyman as print commodity, between the medieval and the modern, is not explained by a scholarship of category but by the reader’s return to the text and not to the work. For few critics would argue that the first print edition of Everyman represents the original work; hence, the texts’ originality is less interesting than their material appearance as brittle goods that did endure. The problem with dealing with such texts is that they seem unmoored, and reading them situates us as attempting to see the fullness of literature from its brittle traces. But these texts are art objects in themselves. This is particularly clear in dealing with medieval manuscripts, in e p i l o g u e 297

Kuskin Epilogue

11/15/07

9:37 AM

Page 298

which the page is a material register of historical practices far di±erent from our own, but I believe the insight is true for printed books as well. As such, I find that the text is a self-reflective vehicle for the work, one in which material otherness is inseparable from its own interpretation. In this formulation, I suggest that the text is not simply two-dimensional, rather it is an archive containing both a material nature and the codes necessary to interpret it. As such, each text exists as both form and content, and needs to be read not according to a category harkening back to some lost moment of origins but by the terms through which it circulates. This process of reading, then, I term the archival imagination. The fundamental di¤culty of Caxton’s legacy is that it questions the nature of originality. Caxton reproduces past to produce the present. This occurs on the level of text—the b-group manuscript edition of Chaucer reproduced in print becomes an original witness to the text— and of history: the culture of the Middle Ages is reproduced as the modern. To accommodate this di¤culty, readings of Caxton have accepted unresolved oppositions—revolution or gradual change, a break from the past into technology or a continuation of manuscript practices, Caxton as a representative man or English hero, a bespoke industry that is also capitalist, and so forth—and merely reiterate established categories or are unable to draw any observation from literature at all. Rather than such a history of oppositions, Symbolic Caxton proposes a literary history of dynamic circularity in which medieval thinking remains available through the form of the book. The relationship between the construction of books and of the subject holds true for the Middle Ages and modernity alike. For the unitary subject, let alone the literary object, is an imaginary construction. Goods are brittle, but in some part they do endure, and it is in this endurance that they call out to our imagination.

298 s y m b o l i c c a x t o n

Kuskin Notes

11/15/07

9:38 AM

Page 299

Notes

Introduction 1. Febvre and Martin, The Coming of the Book, 248; Hellinga and Trapp, “Introduction,” 17. On Febvre and Martin’s statistical analysis, see Dane, The Myth of Print Culture, 51. 2. For the development of textual production see Blayney, The Stationer’s Company, and four pieces by C. Paul Christianson: “The Rise of London’s Book Trade,” Directory, “Evidence,” and “Community.” For Arundel’s Constitutions in relation to literary production, see Nicholas Watson, “Censorship.” For the development of English bureaucratic writing, see two articles by John H. Fisher, “Language Policy” and “Standard Written English,” as well as Malcolm Richardson, “Chancery English.” For Chaucer’s status as an author in the fifteenth century, see Seth Lerer, Chaucer and His Readers, and Ralph Hanna, Pursuing History. 3. See, for example, the historical accounts of canon construction from René Wellek’s The Rise of English Literary History through John Guillory’s Poetic Authority, Kevin Pask’s The Emergence of the English Author, and Jonathan Brody Kramnick’s Making the English Canon: Print-Capitalism and the Cultural Past, 1700–1770 ( New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998). For a broader discussion, more accurate for the fifteenth century, see Trevor Ross, The Making of the English Literary Canon: From the Middle Ages to the Late Eighteenth Century ( Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1998). Most recently, consider Julia Crick and Alexandra Walsham’s remarks in their introduction to The Uses of Script and Print, 1300–1700 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), “Script, Print, and History,” where they remark, “Despite—even, perhaps, because of— the vast body of scholarship devoted to Caxton, it is not always recognised that early English print culture was relatively modest in scope, held back by a variety of structural and economic barriers” (6). 4. For the argument that as Chaucer’s intellectual community passed away the emerging fifteenth-century writers and readers were less interested in complexity, see Strohm, “The Narrowing of the ‘Chaucer Tradition.’” For an argument for the blanket repressive atmosphere of the century, see A. C. Spearing’s discussion of “the more restricted and repressive intellectual climate in which [Chaucer’s] successors lived,” in Medieval to Renaissance, 89, and Paul Strohm’s

299

Kuskin Notes

11/15/07

9:38 AM

Page 300

discussion of the “recipe for inevitable cognitive/aesthetic breakdown,” inherent in Thomas Hoccleve and John Lydgate’s work, in England’s Empty Throne, 191. For the Church apparatus, see Watson, “Censorship,” where he argues, “It was evidently an inadvertent side e±ect of the Constitutions to help precipitate this creation of the canon of theological writing by simply sealing it up, making it so hard for later writers to contribute further to this literature that it is fair to say that original theological writing in English was, for a century, almost extinct” (835). 5. See, for example, Stephen Greenblatt’s Renaissance Self-Fashioning, Richard Helgerson’s Self-Crowned Laureates, A. F. Marotti’s Manuscript, Print, and the English Renaissance Lyric, and David Lee Miller’s The Poem’s Two Bodies. 6. The notion that fifteenth-century printing is fundamentally transitional is embedded in the very term by which it is recognized: the incunable. As a result, discussion of the way early printing structures capitalism, canon construction, and nationalism is often deferred to the sixteenth century. The two major attempts to define print culture both overlook the fifteenth century almost completely. In The Printing Press as an Agent of Change, Elizabeth L. Eisenstein passes over the fifteenth century swiftly, writing, “To account for the utilization of moveable type . . . one must investigate the prior expansion of a literate laity and a manuscript book-trade, account for the accumulation of capital required for investment in early plants, or try to explain why printing industries expanded so rapidly in Western Europe during the late fifteenth century and why the invention of moveable type did not have similar consequences in the Far East” (31–32). After posing such fascinating questions, Eisenstein simply places them aside— “I am skipping over the perfection of a new process” (44)—because her interest lies in modernity and its development of humanism. In turn, Adrian Johns, in The Nature of the Book, completely denies not only Eisenstein’s argument but also her topic, writing: To put it brutally . . . Eisenstein’s print culture does not exist. . . . We may adopt the principle that fixity exists only inasmuch as it is recognized and acted upon by people — and not otherwise. The consequence of this change in perspective is that print culture itself is immediately laid open to analysis. It becomes a result of manifold representations, practices and conflicts, rather than just the monolithic cause with which we are often presented. (19–20). Johns strikes me as correct in calling into question any kind of monolithic notion of print culture (whether that is Eisenstein’s point is another matter), but in The Nature of the Book, this entails ignoring the early history of the book entirely. For Johns, Caxton is an object of study only through modern writings. Arguments more specifically linked to the history of technology are even less careful about the material culture of the premodern period, even as they appeal to the development of movable type for some notion of a historical dividing line. For example, Benedict Anderson argues in Imagined Communities for a naive fifteenth century, unaware of its own practices: “It remains only to emphasize

300 n o t e s t o p a g e 4

Kuskin Notes

11/15/07

9:38 AM

Page 301

that in their origins, the fixing of print-languages and the di±erentiation of status between them were largely unselfconscious processes resulting from the explosive interaction between capitalism, technology and human linguistic diversity” (45). More broadly, this bias is most evident in The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man, where, after naming his entire conceit after a fifteenthcentury thinker, Marshall McLuhan simply discounts the period as a whole: “In 1500 nobody knew how to market or distribute the mass-produced printed book. It was handled in the old manuscript channels. And the manuscript, like any other handicraft produce, was sold in the way in which new now handle ‘old masters.’ That is, the manuscript market was mainly a second-hand market” (1966; repr., Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2000), 130. I pursue this argument in more depth in my introduction to Caxton’s Trace, 1–7. 7. For example, David Wallace’s Cambridge History of Medieval English Literature extends a line of scholarship coming from Spearing’s Medieval to Renaissance and Derek Pearsall’s John Lydgate, which presents the fifteenth century as a “medievalization” of Chaucer’s legacy. Within this perspective a few studies, such as Seth Lerer’s Courtly Letters in the Age of Henry VIII: Literary Culture and the Arts of Deceit (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997) and the essays collected by Theresa M. Krier in Refiguring Chaucer in the Renaissance (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1998), subtly trace the development of Chaucer’s poetry into the early modern period. In each case, however, the transition between the medieval and modern remains a story about Chaucer; Hoccleve, Lydgate, Malory, and Caxton disappear into the caesura between periods. The second overall approach is best articulated in James Simpson’s Oxford English Literary History. Here, the fifteenth century is acknowledged as complex but nevertheless limited in its reach, isolated to its own fascinatingly heterogeneous terms. For a more subtle view of the intertwined relationship between manuscript and print, see David McKitterick, Print, Manuscript and the Search for Order, 1450–1830 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003). 8. The arguments for a narrowing of fifteenth-century literary culture largely come down to the assessment that fifteenth-century writers simply didn’t appreciate literary complexity. This is perhaps put most baldly by Paul Strohm when he writes, “I am much attracted to this multivoiced Chaucer, who interests himself in the perspectives of his characters, who respects their voices, who multiplies contradiction by creating for himself and his characters double-voiced or even polyphonic utterance . . . I would feel more steady in my attraction [to fifteenth-century writers] if I could find an historical basis in the contemporary response to Chaucer’s texts,” in “Writers and Readers of Chaucer” (91); and by Derek Pearsall, who finds in Lydgate a return to pre-Chaucerian writing: “The dislocation of human and historical reality is complete and the attitude to the story rather like that of biblical glossators to variant readings—it was di¤cult to choose the right one, but it didn’t matter, because all had the same relation to universal truth” ( John Lydgate, 130).

n o t e s t o p a g e 4 301

Kuskin Notes

11/15/07

9:38 AM

Page 302

Such a view is not limited to the study of English literature. For example, the opening of the latest translation of Johan Huizinga’s monumental study of the late Middle Ages emphasizes a childlike fifteenth century: When the world was half a thousand years younger all events had much sharper outlines than now. The distance between sadness and joy, between good and bad fortune, seemed to be much greater than for us; every experience had that degree of directness and absoluteness that joy and sadness still have in the mind of a child. (The Autumn of the Middle Ages, translation by Rodney J. Payton and Ulrich Mammitzsch [Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996], 1) It is not too much to say that this book has shaped the perspective of generations of readers, a legacy the new translation hopes to continue. The editors of this translation point out that the older translation by Fritz Hopman and authorized by Huizinga, The Waning of the Middle Ages, in fact toned down the emotional nature overall (xiv). So it is with the “Age of Brass” in general: defined as a period of waning it is marginal to history, interesting only as it gives unity to the Middle Ages and reveals modernity as self-generative. This point is put eloquently by Lee Patterson in “On the Margin: Postmodernism, Ironic History, and Medieval Studies”: In fact, of course, these critics are not interested in historical change at all. What they want to establish is the modernity of their enterprise, the claim that in their chosen texts they descry the present condition in its initial, essential form. And to that end the Middle Ages serves as a premodernity, the other that must be rejected for the modern self to be and know itself. That medieval texts do not figure in these discussions is precisely the point: the Middle Ages is not a subject for discussion but the rejected object, not a prehistory whose shape can be described but the history—historicity itself— that modernity must reject in order to be itself. (Speculum 65 [1990]: 99) Symbolic Caxton argues that such an approach has failed to encounter the complexity of the late Middle Ages. 9. Reported by Dinitia Smith, in “Ideas,” New York Times, January 27, 2001. The argument is reviewed in detail by Blaise Agüera y Arcas in “Temporary Matrices and Elemental Punches in Gutenberg’s DK Type,” in Jensen, Incunabula, 1–12. 10. Translated from Needham’s “Johannes Gutenberg et l’invention de l’imprimerie en Europe,” in Les trios revolutions du livre, ed. Françoise Demange and Alain Mercier (Paris: CNAM, 2002): Mais les premiers caractères étaient di±erénts . . . Nous sommes donc amenés à en conclure que ces premiers caractères européens ne dérivaient pas de matrices métalliques stables marquées au poinçon. Ils étaient réalisés

302 n o t e s t o p a g e 6

Kuskin Notes

11/15/07

9:38 AM

Page 303

à l’aide d’un autre procédé ou les contours d’une letter étaient reconstitutés dans une matière malléable come le sable fin. (184) 11. Ibid. 12. Blades, The Life and Typography of William Caxton, 2:xxiv and xxv. Needham himself points out that the sand hypothesis was suggested as early as 1853 by Auguste Bernard, “Johannes Gutenberg et l’invention de l’imprimerie en Europe,” 185. 13. This ambiguity is clearly lost by the Caxton Quincentenary Exhibition at the British Library in 1976. For example, two scrupulous bibliographers, Nicolas Barker and George D. Painter both assume that Gutenberg’s and Caxton’s type is produced in punch-cast; see Barker, “Caxton’s Typography,” 118–19, and Painter, William Caxton, 53. 14. See my introduction to Caxton’s Trace, 1–7. 15. Stephen Pratt, “The Myth of Identical Types: A Study of Printing Variations from Handcast Gutenberg Type,” Journal of the Printing Historical Society n.s. 6 (2003): 15, 17. 16. This point is nicely put by Alexandra Gillespie in her “Introduction: Bibliography and Early Tudor Texts,” Huntington Library Quarterly 67:2 (2004): 157–71. 17. See Needham, “The Customs Rolls,” and Blayney, The Stationers’ Company. 18. See Mary C. Erler, “Devotional Literature,” Kate Harris, “Evidence for Ownership,” and Cristina Dondi, “Books of Hours: The Development of the Texts in Printed Form,” in Jensen, Incunabula, 53–70. 19. The standard sources for dating Caxton’s publications, Lotte Hellinga’s Caxton in Focus and Paul Needham’s The Printer and the Pardoner, disagree as to where this book was produced; however, both assign it a very early date (compare Hellinga, 59–61 and 83, to Needham, 84). 20. Erler, “Devotional Literature,” 500, 496; and David Rogers, “Johann Hamman at Venice: A Survey of His Career. With a Note on the Sarum ‘Horae’ of 1494,” in Essays in Honour of Victor Scholderer , ed. Dennis E. Rhodes ( Mainz: Karl Pressler, 1970), 366 n. 1. More broadly, Mary Kay Duggan records that “about half a million liturgical books were printed by 1501,” in “Reading Liturgical Books,” and argues that in Europe, “su¤cient liturgical incunabula were printed for each of the 3.3 million [clerics] to own on average 1.5 new liturgical books” (72). 21. Erler, “Devotional Literature,” 506. 22. Watson, “Censorship,” 851–52 and 857–59. 23. Ibid., 835. 24. See Eamon Du±y, The Stripping of the Altars, 80. 25. The standard narrative of fifteenth-century printing is told in E. Gordon Du±’s The Printers, Stationers, and Bookbinders, H. S. Bennett’s English Books &

n o t e s t o p a g e s 7 – 12 303

Kuskin Notes

11/15/07

9:38 AM

Page 304

Readers, and Graham Pollard’s “The English Market.” See also, A. S. G. Edwards and Carol M. Meale’s “Marketing,” and Lotte Hellinga’s essay on printing in The Cambridge History of the Book in Britain, as well as three useful articles by N. F. Blake, “Wynkyn de Worde: The Early Years,” “Wynkyn de Worde: The Later Years,” and “The Spread of Printing.” Du±’s Fifteenth Century Books remains the unsurpassed desk reference. 26. In A Theory of Literary Production, Pierre Macherey o±ers a useful methodological approach: This must be taken in the plainest sense: the book does not produce its readers by some mysterious power; the conditions that determine the production of the book also determine the forms of its communication. These two modifications are simultaneous and reciprocal. This question would certainly be worth a specific theoretical study, the guiding principle for which is to be found in Marx’s statement “Not only the object of consumption but also the mode of consumption is produced, not only in an objective way but also subjectively.” ( Translation by Geo±rey Wall [1978; repr., London and New York: Routledge, 1992], 70) 27. The main biographies are Painter’s William Caxton and Norman F. Blake’s Caxton and His World, which has been significantly superseded by Blake’s more recent biography of Caxton, Authors of the Middle Ages. Louise Gill has pointed out that Caxton was a Stapler as well as a Mercer in “William Caxton and the Rebellion of 1483,” which calls into question one of the guiding assumptions of these biographies; see, too, Richard R. Gri¤th’s sustained discussion of the implications of Caxton’s role as a Stapler and Mercer in “The Early Years of William Caxton.” 28. Painter, William Caxton, 78. 29. See Painter’s discussion of Caxton’s will in William Caxton, 190, and the records remaining from Richard Pynson’s lawsuits, recorded by Plomer, in “Pynson’s Dealings.” 30. See my “Onely imagined,” in Caxton’s Trace. 31. See, for example, Needham’s “Appendix D: Checklist of Caxton’s Printing,” in The Printer and the Pardoner. 32. Counted by A. S. G. Edwards in “Continental Influences,” 245. Edwards and Meale note that over the courses of their careers “De Worde seems to have produced about eight hundred and fifty separate surviving editions, and Pynson about six hundred,” in “Marketing,” 98 n. 13. Lotte Hellinga reviews de Worde’s career and revises the dating of his texts in “Tradition and Renewal.” 33. Robert Costomiris, “Sharing Chaucer’s Authority,” 1. 34. The impetus to print volume is accepted as standard practice: see Phillip Gaskell, A New Introduction to Bibliography, 161, and David R. Carlson, “A Theory of the Early English Printing Firm,” in Caxton’s Trace. For the sense of volume in the fifteenth-century paper trade, see Paul Needham, “Res papirea: Sizes and

304 n o t e s t o p a g e s 13 – 18

Kuskin Notes

11/15/07

9:38 AM

Page 305

Formats of the Late Medieval Book,” in Rationalisierung der Buchherstellung im Mittelalter und in der frühen Neuzeit, ed. Peter Rück ( Marburg an der Lahn: Institut für historische Hilfswissenschaften, 1994), where he refers to the fifteenth century as “the Age of the Paper Book,” continuing, “When this ‘triumph of paper’ is joined with typography, and with the humanist hand transmuted into types, we find brought together the constituent elements defining an era of book culture that is still with us” (124). 35. W. J. B. Crotch points out that the prologues to the first edition of The Game and Play of the Chess and the Golden Legend are both based on prologues by Jean de Vignay, while the Mirrour of the World and the Ordre of Chyualry are also based on the French originals; see The Prologues and Epilogues, 10, 50, 70, and 80. Further, in “Versions by Skelton, Caxton and Berners of a Prologue by Diodorus Siculus,” Samuel K. Workman reports that the first 1150 lines of Caxton’s prologue to the Polychronicon are based on a version of the preface to Diodorus Siculus’s Bibliotheca historica. In Prose, Blake points out that Caxton’s prologue to the Doctrinal of Sapience is also based on his original (156). Finally, Caxton’s writing on Chaucer is all loosely based on Lydgate; see Blake’s “Lydgate and Caxton.” Noting this, critics are routinely discouraged with Caxton as a thinker. See, for example, J. A. W. Bennett’s discussion of Caxton’s Methamorphose in the preface to Kathleen Scott’s The Caxton Master, xii. 36. Scanlon, Narrative, Authority, and Power, 39–40. 37. On cultural capital, see two useful articles by Pierre Bourdieu, “The Forms of Capital,” trans. Richard Nice, in Handbook of Theory and Research for the Sociology of Education, ed. John G. Richardson ( New York: Greenwood Press, 1986), 241–58, and “The Production of Belief: Contribution to an Economy of Symbolic Goods,” trans. Richard Nice, Media, Culture and Society 2:3 (1980): 261–93. If we look to material production in the Middle Ages, we see that it is quite complex. For instance, in “The Woollen Industry,” E. M. Carus-Wilson writes, “In all these towns the structure of the industry was highly capitalistic and essentially similar to that of Flanders. The Italian lanaiuolo, like the English draper and the Flemish drapier, was an entrepreneur, supplying capital and skilled direction, employing anything from a few only to many hundreds of craftsmen, and joining together with his fellow lanaiuoli in the Arte della Lana which controlled the production of the cloth as closely as did the merchant gilds of the North [394] . . . The structure of the ‘great industry’ in England at the close of the Middle Ages was inevitably capitalist, as that of the thirteenth century had been” (The Cambridge Economic History of Europe, vol. 2: Trade and Industry in the Middle Ages, ed. M. Postan and E. E. Rich [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1952], 421). More recently, Mark Addison Amos writes, “The Mercers and the Merchant Adventurers . . . were both entrepreneurial and capitalist—that is, they were organized in ways that tended to separate control of capital from the regular activities of the labor force” (“Violent Hierarchies: Disciplining Women and Merchant Capitalists in The Book of the Knyght of the Towre,” in Kuskin, Caxton’s

n o t e s t o p a g e 19 305

Kuskin Notes

11/15/07

9:38 AM

Page 306

Trace [73]). For a particularly interesting discussion of the critical history and a useful bibliography, see Keith Tribe, Genealogies of Capitalism (Atlantic Highlands, N.J.: Humanities Press, 1981). 38. A Rationale for Textual Criticism (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1989), 18–19, 32. 39. Louis Althusser, “Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses,” 127–86.

Chapter One. Affixing Value 1. The history of Caxton studies as a field has always drawn from biography and bibliography. It separated itself from more general bibliographical surveys of early English printing in the middle of the nineteenth century with Charles Knight’s The Old Printer and the Modern Press (London: W. Clowes and Sons, 1854). Dedicated to Charles Dickens, Knight’s study is in part a biography of Caxton, and in part a fiction, breaking into a first-person account of Wynkyn de Worde’s discussion with Richard Pynson, William de Machlinia, and John Lettou of how to direct the press after Caxton’s death (153–65). Caxton studies begin more bibliographically, if not more earnestly, with William Blades’s twovolume The Life and Typography of William Caxton: England’s First Printer. Blades condensed this work into a single octavo volume for the 1877 Caxton celebration, The Biography and Typography of William Caxton: England’s First Printer (London: Trübner, 1877), revised for the second edition in 1882 ( New York: Scribner and Welford, 1882). Though Blades’s work brought a new seriousness to Caxton studies —followed through by works rich in evidence such as E. Gordon Du± ’s William Caxton (1905; repr., New York: Burt Franklin, 1970) and W. J. B. Crotch, The Prologues and Epilogues of William Caxton—the urge to know Caxton as an individual and a hero, and to some extent to identify with him, remains a strong current in Blades’s work: As England’s Prototypographer a never-dying interest will always surround him. But although nowhere, unless as a printer, does he shine pre-eminent; although we cannot attribute to him those rare mental powers which can grasp the hidden laws of nature, nor the still more rare genius which creates for all time; we can claim for him a character which attracted the love and respect of his associates—a character on which history has chronicled no stain, and which, through a long period of civil war, while surrounded in Church and State by the worse forms of cruelty, hypocrisy, and injustice, retained to the last its native simplicity and truthfulness. ( I. 82) The resulting stories of Caxton are of heroism and of human character. Henry R. Plomer reflects on this nicely in William Caxton (1424–1491), writing, “It seems to me that as a roadmaker William Caxton and his work make a strong appeal to the imagination” ([1925; repr., New York: Ben Franklin, 1968], 11), and George

306 n o t e s t o p a g e s 25 – 29

Kuskin Notes

11/15/07

9:38 AM

Page 307

Parker Winship begins his William Caxton & His Work (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1937), “The desire for better acquaintance with William Caxton goes back to my junior year at college” (vii). At times, this appears as an objective assessment, such as when Nellie Slayton Aurner purports to recognize in Caxton “modesty, simplicity, and almost childlike absence of a±ectation,” in Caxton, Mirrour of Fifteenth-Century Letters: A Study of the Literature of the First English Press ([ Boston: Houghton Mi¬in, 1926], 205), but it is nevertheless a constant theme. The two current biographies of William Caxton, N. F. Blake’s Caxton and His World and George D. Painter’s William Caxton, follow this model as well. Blake’s and Painter’s biographies take part in a revival of interest in Caxton at the five-hundred-year anniversary, and these, too, become intimate with Caxton: Painter presents himself as the one reader in history who knows him well enough to recognize his humor (cf. 63, 88 n. 2, 161); in turn, Blake is his apologist: “Possibly the history of the English language and of English literature would have been di±erent if our first printer had belonged to a di±erent class of society; but that is mere speculation. Caxton should not be blamed for being the person he was” (215). In A Critique of Modern Textual Condition, Jerome McGann argues that “a hypnotic fascination with the isolated author has served to foster an overdetermined concept of authorship, but (reciprocally) an underdetermined concept of literary work” ([1985; repr., Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1992], 122). To borrow McGann’s terms, Caxton studies have created an overdetermined reading of his character, but the symbolic nature of Caxton’s books—their relationship to literary authority, the social work they perform for fifteenth-century culture—remains underdetermined, indeed ignored. Blake’s most recent biography, William Caxton (published separately and anthologized as Authors of the Middle Ages), modulates many of his earlier views, and attributes to Caxton a much greater control over his press: “We should remember that Caxton had the financial muscle to adapt his plans to circumstances as they arose; in this respect he was quite di±erent from most other printerpublishers of the time” (22). This newer work o±ers an exceptional overview of the documents and secondary sources relating to Caxton in its bibliography (51–68), to which should be added three more recent discoveries: Gill, “William Caxton and the Rebellion of 1483”; F. J. Bakker and J. Gerritsen, “Collecting Ships from Holland and Zeeland: A Caxton Letter Discovered,” The Library ser. 5, 1 (2004): 3–11; and R. N. Swanson, “Caxton’s Indulgence for Rhodes, 1480–81,” The Library ser. v, 2 (2004): 195–201. Two additional research tools useful to the study of Caxton are Blake, William Caxton: A Bibliographical Guide, and Kiyokazu Mizobata, A Concordance to Caxton’s Own Prose ( Tokyo: Shohakusha, 1990). 2. Robert Large is recorded as paying a 4s. fee for Caxton’s apprenticeship in the Wardens’ Account Book of the Mercers’ Company in 1437–38 and in 1441 is recorded as leaving Caxton twenty marks, and Blake uses these dates to

n o t e s t o p a g e 29 307

Kuskin Notes

11/15/07

9:38 AM

Page 308

estimate Caxton’s age in “Some Observations on William Caxton and the Mercers’ Company,” Book Collector 15 (1966): 283–95. The Bruges archives of January 2, 1450, record Caxton standing surety for a Stapler, John Granton, and Caxton is recorded in such business in London and Bruges through to 1455. The next archival record concerning Caxton is a suit between him and Pieter Willems in Middelburg dated July 16, 1462; however, this period can be substantially filled in if Caxton’s biography is expanded to include his role as a Stapler. For Caxton’s activities as a Mercer in general see Anne F. Sutton, “Caxton Was a Mercer.” 3. The argument for Caxton’s exile appears throughout the major writing on Caxton: Crotch suggests a “protective exile” (The Prologues and Epilogues, lxxxv); Painter discusses Caxton’s “fall” and “broken career” (William Caxton, 43–44); Lotte Hellinga begins her definitive essay on printing with Caxton’s “exile” in The Cambridge History of the Book, 65; and Janet Backhouse, Mirjam Foot, John Barr, and Nicolas Barker endorse it in their guide to the Caxton celebration of 1976/77, William Caxton: An Exhibition, 10. As Blake remarks in his more recent biography, “This view has little to commend it” (Authors of the Middle Ages, 18). 4. For the sweeping attribution of Caxton’s portfolio to Woodville, see Blake, Caxton and His World, 79–101, and “Investigations into the Prologues and Epilogues by William Caxton,” BJRL 49 (1967): 17–46; Hilton Kelliher, “The Early History of the Malory Manuscript”; Jennifer Goodman, “Malory and Caxton’s Chivalric Series,” and Malory and William Caxton’s Prose Romances of 1485; and Louise Gill, “William Caxton and the Rebellion of 1483.” 5. For this language see Painter (William Caxton, 152) and Gill (“William Caxton and the Rebellion of 1483,” 114), respectively. Of course, 1483–86 is arguably Caxton’s most productive period, and it is during this time that he prints his second edition of the Canterbury Tales, Le Morte D’Arthur, the Golden Legend, and the Polychronicon. 6. For useful discussion of the notion of an insular romantic England, see Patricia Clare Ingham, Sovereign Fantasies (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2001), particularly the introduction, 1–17. 7. Mirrour of the World (STC 24762), a4v. 8. “Caxton in the Nineteenth Century,” in Kuskin, Caxton’s Trace, 330–31. 9. Polychronicon (STC 13438), a1. 10. Reported in Dalya Alberge, “Chaucer Fetches £4.6m,” The Times, July 9, 1998, 3. Blades counts nine copies known, including the Earl of Dysart’s copy, a fragment (The Life and Typography, 2:46). Seymour de Ricci counts eleven known copies, including Dysart (A Census of Caxtons [1909; repr., Mansfield Center, Conn.: Martino Publishing, 2000], 25), and another nineteen untraced copies and fragments. Robert J. D. Harding provides an updated list in The Wormsley Library: A Personal Selection by Sir Paul Getty, KBE, ed. George H. Fletcher (London: Maggs Brothers, in cooperation with the Pierpont Morgan Library, 1999), 47, and excluding the Dysart, counts only ten. The Getty copy (Blades no. 6, de Ricci no. 4) was owned by John Ratcli±e, and sold by Christie’s on April 3, 1776,

308 n o t e s t o p a g e s 29 – 31

Kuskin Notes

11/15/07

9:38 AM

Page 309

for £6 to Walter Shropshire for Sir Charles Watson-Wentworth, Marquess of Rockingham. It passed by inheritance through William Wentworth-Fitzwilliam and William Charles de Meuron Wentworth-Fitzwilliam to Olive, Countess Fitzwilliam, until it came to auction at Christie’s. 11. Paul Needham dates the first folio edition of the Canterbury Tales as 1477; see his “Appendix D: Checklist of Caxton’s Printing,” in The Printer and the Pardoner, which revises the chronology of Caxton’s publications based on paper stock evidence. Lotte Hellinga suggests between May 24, and December 13, 1476 (Caxton in Focus, 83). The Wormsley catalogue lists the edition as 1476/77. The notion of Caxton’s Chaucer as the first English book is not new: Joseph Ames suggests such a dating in his 1749 study of English printing, Typographical Antiquities: Being an Historical Account of Printing in England with Some Memoirs of Our Ancient Printers, and A Register of the Books Printed by Them, from the Year MCCCCLXXI to the Year MDC. With an Appendix Concerning Printing in Scotland and Ireland to the Same Time (London: W. Faden, 1749), 54 n.a. 12. De Ricci, English Collectors of Books and Manuscripts (1530–1930) (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1930), 69. On the Marquis of Blandford’s winning bid for the Valdarfer Boccaccio, see David Matthews, The Making of Middle English, 1756–1910 ( Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1999), chapter 4, especially pp. 85–88; William Younger Fletcher, English Book Collectors (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner and Co., 1902), 262; Edward Edwards, Libraries and Founders of Libraries (London: Trübner, 1864), 406–7; and, more recently, Philip Connell, “Bibliomania: Book Collecting, Cultural Politics, and the Rise of Literary Heritage in Romantic Britain,” Representations 71 (2000): 24–47. The sale price is recorded as £2,740 in Anthony Lister’s “George John, 2nd Earl Spencer and his ‘Librarian,’ Thomas Frognall Dibdin,” in Bibliophily, ed. Robin Myers and Michael Harris (Cambridge: Chadwyck-Healey, 1986), 90–117; I have not been able to duplicate his figure in another source. De Ricci records the total sale of the library at £23,341 (English Collectors, 72). E. Gordon Du± records the Duke of Devonshire as buying Elizabeth of York’s copy of the Recuyell for £1,060 10s. at this same sale (William Caxton [1905; repr., New York: Burt Franklin, 1970], 28). This copy, now at the Huntington, contains the famous Flemish copperplate engraving of Caxton presenting his book to Margaret of York (see de Ricci, Census, 5). In his 1909 A Census of Caxtons, de Ricci provides a useful appendix of private libraries dispersed at auction and, too, discusses the remarkable growth in Caxton prices from the Roxburghe sale, writing, “Whereas, in 1812 a thousand guineas was deemed a ridiculous price for the ‘Recuyell,’ we have seen since 1880 no fewer than six Caxtons, if I am right in my reckoning, fetch over £1,800 in the auction-room, the highest price yet reached being the £2,225 paid by Mr. Pierpont Morgan for the Bedford ‘Ryall Book’” (v). It is generally agreed that the 1830s marked a change in the terms of bibliomania, with increasingly high prices edging the private virtuoso out of the market. Book prices continued to rise despite the so-called crash of 1826.

n o t e s t o p a g e 32 309

Kuskin Notes

11/15/07

9:38 AM

Page 310

On bibliomania in general, see especially Seth Lerer, “Caxton in the Nineteenth Century,” in Caxton’s Trace, and Marvin J. Taylor, “The Anatomy of Bibliography: Book Collecting, Bibliography and Male Homosocial Discourse,” Textual Practices 14 (2000): 457–77. See also Arnold Hunt, “Bibliotheca Heberiana,” in Antiquaries, Book Collectors and the Circles of Learning, ed. Robin Myers and Michael Harris ( Winchester: St. Paul’s Bibliographies, 1996), 98; Fletcher, English Book Collectors, x; and John Suterland, “The British Book Trade and the Crash of 1826,” The Library ser. vi, 9 (1978): 148–61. For the development of the book auction from 1676 in individual libraries, in co±eehouses in the early eighteenth century, and, by midcentury, to private auction rooms, see Frank Herrmann, “The Emergence of the Book Auctioneer as a Professional,” in Property of a Gentleman: The Formation, Organisation and Dispersal of the Private Library, 1620–1920, ed. Robin Myers and Michael Harris ( Winchester: St. Paul’s Bibliographies, 1991), 1–15. 13. Dibdin’s four-volume edition is the second revision of Joseph Ames’s 1749 Typographical Antiquities, following William Herbert’s; Bradshaw’s writings are available in The Collected Papers of Henry Bradshaw (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1889), which presents essays written as early as 1862; on Bradshaw, see Paul Needham, The Bradshaw Method: Henry Bradshaw’s Contribution to Bibliography (Chapel Hill: Hanes Foundation, 1988). 14. The Making of Middle English, 1765–1910; see especially chapters 4 and 5. 15. On country house libraries in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, see Mark Girouard, Life in the English Country House: A Social and Architectural History ( New Haven: Yale University Press, 1978), chapter 6, especially 179–80 and 234–37; James Raven, “From Promotion to Proscription: Arrangements for Reading and Eighteenth-Century Libraries,” in The Practice and Representation of Reading in England, ed. James Raven, Helen Small, and Naomi Tadmor (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 175–201; Clive Wainwright, “The Library as Living Room,” in Myers and Harris, Property of a Gentleman, 15–25; and T. A. Birrell, “Reading as Pastime” in the same volume, 112–33. 16. See Harding, The Wormsley Library, x–xi. 17. Edwards, Libraries, 404–5 and 426–27. 18. Thomas Frognall Dibdin, Aedes Althorpianae; or An Account of the Mansion, Books, and Pictures, At Althorp; The Residence of George John Earl Spencer, K. G. to which is added A Supplement to the Bibliotheca Spenceriana (London: Shakespeare Press, 1822), I, 20–31. 19. Raven, “From Promotion to Proscription,” 192–93. 20. Dibdin, Aedes Althorpianae, 32. 21. Harding, The Wormsley Library, x–xi. 22. Ibid., 47. 23. “Unpacking My Library: A Talk About the Book Collecting,” in Illuminations, trans. Harry Zohn (1968; repr., New York: Schocken Books, 1985), 61.

310 n o t e s t o p a g e s 33 – 37

Kuskin Notes

11/15/07

9:38 AM

Page 311

24. “Profile: Sir John Paul Getty II,” http://news.bbc.co.uk, viewed June 22, 2002; see also Wolfgang Saxon, “J. Paul Getty, Jr., Philanthropist, Dies at 70,” New York Times, April 18, 2003, and “Sir Paul Getty,” The Times, April 18, 2003, 35. 25. Edwards, Libraries, 406; Fletcher, English Book Collectors, 310. De Ricci gives the amount as £918.15s., and though de Ricci is usually accurate, I cannot find this figure reproduced (Collectors, 78). 26. Caxton printed the Mirrour of the World in 1481 (STC 24762) and again in 1489/90 (STC 24763). The second edition is in Type 6 and ends with Caxton’s device. Caxton translated the Mirrour from a prose version of the thirteenthcentury verse Image du Monde by Gossouin of Metz, deriving from Vincent of Beauvais’ Speculum historiale, written in Bruges in 1464 for the bookseller Jehan Le Clerc. Caxton made minor changes: he added Oxford and Cambridge to Paris as seats of learning, omitted a passage that tells how English men are born with tails for having tied fishtails to St. Augustine of Canterbury’s clothes, and added a skeptical eyewitness account by the Bruges knight Sir John de Banste of the socalled cave to purgatory. Blake, following the text’s editor Oliver Prior (who apparently followed from Dibdin’s remarks in Typographical Antiquities, i.109), suggests that this manuscript was British Library MS Royal 19 A ix (“The ‘Mirror of the World’ and MS Royal 19 A ix”), but Painter points out that that manuscript lacks the illustrations Caxton discusses in his prologue (William Caxton, 108), as Blades did for Dibdin (Life and Typography, 2:83). De Ricci records thirty-three various copies extant of the first edition, and nineteen of the second (de Ricci, Census, 97–98). See Blake, A Bibliographical Guide, 40; Backhouse, et al., William Caxton: An Exhibition, 47. 27. English Woodcuts 1480–1535 with Additions and Corrections (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1973), 1–2. 28. See Caxton’s Mirrour of the World, ed. Oliver H. Prior, EETS ex.s. 110 (London: Oxford University Press, 1913; repr., Su±olk: Boydell & Brewer, 1999). 29. Hodnett, Woodcuts, nos. 7 and 8; 111–12. 30. Blake, Caxton and His World, 36. 31. Presented in Crotch, Prologues and Epilogues, 53. 32. See Lotte Hellinga, “Text and Press in the First Decades of Printing,” in Libri, tipografi, biblioteche: Ricerhe storiche dedicate a Luigi Balsamo (Florence: Leo S. Olscki Editore, 1997), 1–23. 33. Brice, an Irish goldsmith, accompanied Caxton on trade negotiations at Bruges and was governor of the Royal Mint in the Tower. On Brice, see Painter, William Caxton, 108; Prior, Mirrour, v–vii. 34. A. S. G. Edwards and Derek Pearsall, “The Manuscripts of the Major English Poetic Texts,” in Gri¤ths and Pearsall, Book Production, 257. 35. Hellinga and Trapp, “Introduction,” 17. 36. See the unsigned description in Printing and the Mind of Man: Catalogue of the Exhibitions at the British Museum and at Earls Court, London, 16–27 July 1963,

n o t e s t o p a g e s 37 – 4 4 311

Kuskin Notes

11/15/07

9:38 AM

Page 312

ed. John Carter and Percy H. Muir, with Nicolas Barker, H. A. Feisenberger, Howard Nixon, S. H. Steinberg, and Denys Hay (London: Bridges and Sons, 1963), 19. 37. On the danse macabre see Jane H. M. Taylor, “The Dialogues of the Dance of Death and the Limits of Late-Medieval Theatre,” Fifteenth-Century Studies (1990): 215–32; Edelgard Dubruck, The Theme of Death in French Poetry of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance ( The Hague: Mouton, 1964); Leonard Paul Kurtz, The Dance of Death and the Macabre Spirit in European Literature (1934; repr., Ann Arbor: University Microfilms, 1969); and chapter 5, “The Vision of Death,” in J. Huizinga, The Autumn of the Middle Ages, trans. Rodney J. Payton and Ulrich Mammitzsch (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996), 156–172. On the English tradition, see James Simpson, The Oxford English Literary History, 55±., and Beatrice White’s introduction to The Dance of Death: Edited from MSS. Ellesmere 26/A.13 and B. M. Lansdowne 699, collated with the other Extant MSS, ed. Florence Warren, EETS o.s. 181 (1931; repr., New York: Kraus Reprints, 1971), ix–xxxi. White records twelve manuscripts of the English version, and Tottel’s 1554 edition of Lydgate’s Fall of Princes (STC 3177), which contains the verses at its end. See also Derek Pearsall, John Lydgate, 177–79; Eleanor Prescott Hammond, “Latin Texts of the Dance of Death,” Modern Philology 8 (1911): 399–410; David Lorenzo Boyd, “Reading Through the Regiment of Princes: Hoccleve’s Series and Lydgate’s Dance of Death in Yale Beinecke MS 493,” Fifteenth-Century Studies 20 (1993): 15–34; and R. D. Drexler, “Dunbar’s ‘Lament for the Makaris’ and the Dance of Death Tradition,” Studies in Scottish Literature 13 (1978): 144–58. 38. This figure comes from Phillip Gaskell, who remarks, “At 250 sheets an hour, the whole cycle was repeated every 14–15 seconds,” A New Introduction to Bibliography, 130. 39. Reproduced in Crotch, Prologues and Epilogues, 50. 40. Presented in parallel with his source text, MS Royal 19 A ix, in Crotch, Prologues and Epilogues, 50–59, and with commentary in Blake, Caxton and His World, 154–58. 41. Crotch, Prologues and Epilogues, 65. 42. See Samuel K. Workman, “Versions by Skelton, Caxton and Berners of a Prologue by Diodorus Siculus,” 252–58. 43. Crotch, Prologues and Epilogues, 64. 44. Ibid., 107. 45. Ibid., 108. 46. For discussion of the Christine de Pizan illumination, see Jennifer Summit, Lost Property, 84, and A. E. B. Coldiron, “Taking Advice from a Frenchwoman,” in Kuskin, Caxton’s Trace, 127–66. For Lydgate, see Seth Lerer, Chaucer and His Readers, 42. 47. The definitive works on printers’ marks are R. B. McKerrow, Printers’ & Publishers’ Devices, and Hugh William Davies, Devices of the Early Printers. George D. Painter’s “Michael Wenssler’s Devices and Their Predecessors” (1959;

312 n o t e s t o p a g e s 4 4 – 4 9

Kuskin Notes

11/15/07

9:38 AM

Page 313

repr. in Studies in Fifteenth-Century Printing [London: Pindar Press, 1984], 70–78), provides a concise review of the early history of the printer’s mark. Edwin Eliott Willoughby, Fifty Printers’ Marks (Berkeley: Book Arts Club, University of California, 1947), discusses the printers’ marks he selected to adorn the covers of Library Quarterly, continued in Howard W. Winger’s Printers’ Marks and Devices (Chicago: Caxton Club, 1976). See also Douglas C. McMurtrie, Printers’ Marks and Their Significance (Chicago: Eyncourt Press, 1930), which is largely reprinted as chapter 20 of The Book: The Story of Printing & Bookmaking ( New York: Oxford University Press, 1943). 48. Davies, Devices of the Early Printers, 113; McMurtrie suggests 1,500 devices before 1500 (The Book, 294). 49. See George Painter and Paul Morgan, “The Caxton Legenda at St. Mary’s, Warwick,” The Library ser. v, 12 (1957): 225–39. See Backhouse, et al., William Caxton: An Exhibition, for a solid summary of the book history, 79. The Legenda was previously identified by E. Gordon Du± from twenty-nine leaves. 50. The device appears on ten of Caxton’s nineteen last editions: the 1489 Directorium sacerdotum, second edition (STC 17722); the 1489 Reynard the Fox, second edition (STC 20920); the 1489 Dictes and Sayings, third edition (STC 6829); the 1489 Doctrinal of Sapience (STC 21431); the 1489 Mirrour of the World, second edition (STC 24763); the 1490 Speculum vitae Christi, second edition (STC 3260); and the 1490 Eneydos (STC 24796). 51. Ames, Typographical Antiquities, 6. Ames’s subsequent editors, William Herbert and Thomas Frognall Dibdin, demur from this reading. See also Hellinga, Caxton in Focus, 32. 52. William Blades, The Life and Typography, 2:lvi. Blades progressively retreated from this reading in his two subsequent octavo revisions, The Biography and Typography: in the 1877 edition commemorating the Caxton celebration, he largely reiterated the reading, but in the final 1882 edition he backed away entirely, citing Henry Bradshaw’s objection to numerical readings of the device, and presenting the comparable trade mark of Caxton’s contemporary, the Mercer and Stapler John Felde (139). For a detailed account of Blades’s revision of these editions, see Robin Myers, “William Blades’s Debt to Henry Bradshaw and G. I. F. Tupper in His Caxton Studies: A Further Look at Unpublished Documents,” The Library ser. v, 33 (1978): 265–83, and her “sequel” article, “George Issac Frederick Tupper, Facsimilist, ‘Whose Ability in this Description of Work is Beyond Praise’ (1820?–1911),” Transactions of the Cambridge Bibliographical Society 7 (1978): 113–34. Myers points out that in correspondence late in his life, Bradshaw objected to such readings of the device: “I wish most heartily that I could give you such an emetic that you would no longer think about fours and sevens in this matter” (280). E. Gordon Du± also dismisses numerical readings of the device in Caxton (70), and Plomer too reports Bradshaw’s opinion, remarking that the question “must remain an open one” (William Caxton, 151). Painter terms Blades’s work “an innovatory classic[, y]et it is also a dangerous book, full of seductive

n o t e s t o p a g e s 4 9 – 50 313

Kuskin Notes

11/15/07

9:38 AM

Page 314

error, vitiated not only by the inevitable obsolescence of a century, but, it must be said, by fatal gaps in the competence and judgment of its author” (“An Unbelievable Landmark,” Times Literary Supplement, December 17, 1971; repr. in Studies, 144–46). 53. Painter, William Caxton, 160. A second tradition, stemming from Crotch, discovers the device to be at once the seal of William Caston of Calais and “a clean-line representation” of the heraldic charge, “an eagle’s head erased” (xlvi). Finding this seal to belong to a Stapler named William Cresse, Painter dismissed Crotch’s suggestion. Janet Backhouse presents Painter’s reading as fact in Backhouse, et al., William Caxton: An Exhibition, 78. In 1976 Painter used the progressive disintegration of the device’s frame to date ten of Caxton’s later texts and recorded this information in William Caxton, 163. Bradshaw suggested this mode of dating to Blades in a letter of August 11, 1860, but Blades apparently ignored the analysis ( Myers, “William Blades’s Debt,” 268–69). The point was also noted by Plomer, Wynkyn de Worde & His Contemporaries from the Death of Caxton to 1535 ([London: Grafton, 1925], 118), as well as Davies, Devices of the Early Printers (574), but Painter was the first to pursue it analytically in his article with Paul Morgan, “The Caxton Legenda.” 54. Davies writes that the four “was originally the sign of a merchant, a general symbol of a calling, but not strictly that of a particular handicraft” (Devices of the Early Printers, 33), concluding, “The earliest use of the simple 4 mark must be looked for among those merchants from the 13th century onwards” (35). On craftsmen’s marks, Edwin Eliott Willoughby notes, “Such marks were required especially of goldsmiths, silversmiths, and other artisans who were under the unusual temptation to misrepresent the quality of their goods” (Fifty Printers’ Marks, 3). 55. Painter, “Michael Wenssler,” 73. 56. See David R. Carlson, “A Theory of the Early English Printing Firm,” in Kuskin, Caxton’s Trace, 44. Hellinga also points to the importance of creating demand; see Caxton in Focus, 102. It is important to distinguish this claim from the much less specific claim that Caxton’s prologues and epilogues are “pu±s” (Sutton, “Caxton Was a Mercer,” 121) or “blurbs” (Blake, Authors of the Middle Ages, 8). The former implies an active engagement with the problem of supply and demand; the latter terms, a simple application of a derived formula. What separates the early printers is that they had to meet the problem of machine production head-on; they could not fall back on the patterns of advertising to market their wares. 57. In the verse epilogue to his 1495 edition of the De proprietatibus (STC 1536), Wynkyn de Worde explains that Caxton worked on that text in Cologne. Needham argues that “there is adequate evidence that in 1472 this shop was working exclusively for Caxton” and numbers the editions as Caxton’s first three publications. See “Appendix D: Checklist of Caxton’s Printing,” in The Printer and the Pardoner, 83.

314 n o t e s t o p a g e s 50 – 53

Kuskin Notes

11/15/07

9:38 AM

Page 315

58. Severin Corsten, “Caxton in Cologne”; Lotte Hellinga and Wytze Hellinga, “Caxton in the Low Countries,” Journal of the Printing Historical Society 11 (1976–77): 21. For the Venetian market, see two articles by Martin J. C. Lowry, “The Arrival and Use of Continental Printed Books in Yorkist England,” and “Venetian Capital, German Technology and Renaissance Culture in the Later Fifteenth Century,” Renaissance Studies 2 (1988): 1–13. 59. Hellinga and Hellinga, “Caxton in the Low Countries,” 23; “Caxton’s Typography,” The Journal of the Printing Historical Society 11 (1976–77): 118; and Painter, William Caxton, 62. 60. Corsten, “Caxton in Cologne,” 15; Lotte Hellinga and Wytze Hellinga, The Fifteenth-Century Printing Types of the Low Countries, trans. D. A. S. Reid (Amsterdam: M. Hertzberger, 1966), 47. 61. Painter, William Caxton, 78. 62. Hellinga and Hellinga, “Caxton in the Low Countries,” 28. 63. Caxton and Colard Mansion apparently attempted a one-pull method of printing red rubrics, which created a smudged page. Blades believed that according to this method the form was inked and then the black ink was wiped away and the red added with a finger, an observation that seems to come from G. I. F. Tupper’s notes (see Myers, “William Blades’s Debt,” 279). Painter argues that ink balls must have been used or the form would have been cleaner, in “The Caxton Legenda.” From this typographical anomaly, Blades argued for a connection between Caxton and Colard Mansion; it is now generally accepted that the two printers worked together on Caxton’s French texts. Blades’s overall thesis has fallen by the wayside, but the contrast is still useful. For Mansion, see Blades, The Life and Typography, 1:54–61; L. A. Sheppard, “A New Light on Colard Mansion,” Signature n.s. 15 (1952): 28–39; Painter, William Caxton, 72–81; Sheila Edmunds, “From Schoe±er to Vérard: Concerning the Scribes Who Became Printers,” in Printing the Written Word: The Social History of Books circa 1450–1520, ed. Sandra L. Hindman ( Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1991), 21–40; and Paul Saenger, “Colard Mansion and the Evolution of the Printed Book,” Library Quarterly 45 (1975): 405–18. 64. The St. Albans Chronicle is also known as the Chronicles of England, a confusing substitution because the two books are not identical. The date of this edition remains somewhat unclear. The British Library Public Catalogue gives the date of 1483; however, Du± lists it as 1485 in Fifteenth Century English Books, as does the STC. The Schoolmaster printer’s prologue reads: “Therfoor i the yeer of our lorde .M. iiijc. lxxxiij. And in the xxiij. yeer of the regne of kyng Edward the fourth at Saynt Albons so that all men may knaw the actys naemly of our nobull kyngys of Englond is compylit to gether thys book” (aii), a date that is corroborated by Wynkyn de Worde’s 1497 reprint (STC 9996), which also supplies, in its colophon, the Schoolmaster’s enigmatic title: “¶ Here endyth this present cronycle of Englonde wyth the frute of tymes: compiled in a booke /& also enprynted by one somtyme scole mayster of saynt Albons. on whoos soule god haue mercy”

n o t e s t o p a g e s 53 – 5 6 315

Kuskin Notes

11/15/07

9:38 AM

Page 316

( I4). As the Schoolmaster produced only three books after 1481, the Chronicle, the Boke of St Albans, and the Scriptum super logica, regardless of the date it is among the Schoolmaster’s very last texts. The Schoolmaster printer did reprint one of Caxton’s editions, the 1480 edition of Laurentius Traversanus’s Nova rhetorica (STC 24190), an abbreviated grammar by a contemporary Italian humanist resident in England which Caxton printed in 1478 (STC 24189). The Boke of St. Albans remains in about seventeen copies; see Lotte Hellinga, “The Book of St. Albans, 1486,” in Fine Books and Book Collecting, ed. Christopher De Hamel and Richard A. Linenthal (Leamington Spa: Hall, 1981), 31–34; William Blades, The Boke of Saint Albans by Dame Juliana Berners . . . reproduced in Facsimile (London: Elliot Stock, 1881); Rachel Hands, “Juliana Berners and The Boke of St. Albans,” Review of English Studies 18 (1967): 373–86; Norman F. Blake, “The Spread of Printing”; and James G. Clark, “Print and Pre-Reformation Religion: The Benedictines and the Press, c. 1470–c.1550,” in The Uses of Script and Print, 1300–1700, ed. Julia Crick and Alexandra Walsham ( New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 82–83. 65. See Hands, “Juliana Berners,” 373, and 376 nn. 1 and 2, and 382. 66. “Practical Books for the Gentleman,” 488. 67. Thrupp, The Merchant Class of Medieval London, 296 n. 25. 68. Painter, “Michael Wenssler,” 74–76. 69. One might perhaps argue that any resemblance between the Schoolmaster’s mark and Jenson’s is coincidental, that the English printers were simply too insular to know of their Continental peers. Laying aside the overwhelming mercantile evidence for a connection between England and Italy for a moment, we have Theodoric Rood and Thomas Hunte’s colophon to the Epistolae testifying to English knowledge of Jenson: Hoc oposculuµ in alma vniuersitate Oxonie. A Natali christiano Duceµtesima & nonagesia septima. Olimpiade foeliciter impressum eµ Hoc Teodericus rood queµ collonia misit Saµg uµieµ gµmanus nobile pµssit opus Atq sibi socius thomas fuit aµglicus hunte. Dii deµt vt venetos exuperare qµuant Quaµ ieµson venetos decuit vir gallicus artem Ingenio didicit terra britanµa suµo. Celatos veneti nob traµsmitteµ lib[r]os Cedite nos aliis veµdimus o veneti Que fuerat vob ars pµmuµ nota latini Est edaeµ nob ipµa reperta preµs Quaµuis seoµtos toto canit orbe britaµnos Virgilius placg his lıgµ ua latiaµ tameµ. ( Du±, Fifteenth Century English Books, 97) 70. See Kuskin, “Onely imagined,” 203–4. 71. See E. Gordon Du±, The Printers, Stationers, and Bookbinders, 172–77, and Christopher J. Werner’s Henry VIII’s Divorce: Literature and the Politics of the Printing Press ( Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 1998), especially 83–88. 72. The colophon to the Exposicio records “Explicit exposicio sancti Ieronimi in simbolo apostolorum ad papam laureµcium Impressa Oxonie Et finita Anno do-

316 n o t e s t o p a g e s 5 6 – 7 4

Kuskin Notes

11/15/07

9:38 AM

Page 317

mini .M.cccc.lxviij.xvij. die decembris”; however this date is now understood to be a misprint for 1478. Further, neither Du± (Fifteenth Century English Books, 65) nor the current STC attributes the Exposicio to Theodoric Rood. Du± and the STC do attribute the next two books from the Oxford press to Rood; but as the colophons do not bear his name, and they continue to use the same type, it seems safer to assume they are anonymous and to recognize Rood with the introduction of Oxford, Type 2. 73. See Hellinga, Caxton in Focus, 74–76; Painter, William Caxton, 140 n. 1. 74. See C. Paul Christianson’s “The Rise of London’s Book Trade,” 138–39; Anne F. Sutton and Livia Visser-Fuchs have identified de Machlinia as William Ravenswalde, in Richard III’s Books, 250. 75. “The Spread of Printing,” 27. 76. See Kuskin, “Onely imagined,” in Caxton’s Trace, 208–20. 77. In “The Customs Rolls as Documents for the Printed-Book Trade in England,” Paul Needham points out that Caxton was, in fact, the only importer of books during these years, in The Cambridge History of the Book in Britain, 153. Further, Needham’s review of the customs rolls suggests that book importation overall was much greater than has previously been imagined—counting from 1460 to Caxton’s death, 23 merchants, and 58 book cargoes into London. The texts Caxton uses to introduce his mark, the Missale and Legenda, are a part of this trade overall, and a number of merchants imported such books into England wholesale: for example, between 1480 and 1481 Henry Frankenberg and Peter Actors alone imported nearly 1,500 volumes, and in 1488 Caxton himself imported over 1,000 books and exported another 140. 78. Caxton’s Missale and Legenda are technically impressive. Painter points out that Maynyal produced the first red-printed rubrics in Paris (William Caxton, 262). Maynyal appears to have begun as a partner in 1480 of Ulrich Gering, with whom he printed five books in Paris. He went on to print the 1489/90 Statua synodalia ecclesiae Carnotensis and the 1490 Manuale ecclesiae Carnotensis, both of which he printed, like his work for Caxton, on commission, and which feature fine red rubrics, which Painter speculates he learned to print at Lyons, Venice, or Basle. On Maynyal, see Painter and Morgan, “The Caxton Legenda”; E. Gordon Du±, William Caxton, 70; Curtis Bühler, “George Maynyal: A Parisian Printer of the Fifteenth Century,” The Library ser. iv, 18 (1937): 84–88. Caxton went on to use the two-pull process for color printing in three later works: his fourth edition of the Sarum Hours (STC 15872) printed in 1490/91, his second edition of Clement Maydeston’s Directorium sacerdotum (STC 17722) printed in 1488/89, and the Festum transfigurationis Jesu Christi (STC 15854), which Paul Needham dates at 1487, but Painter at 1490. Needham’s date is interesting because it suggests that Caxton switched to the two-pull method shortly after seeing Maynyal’s results; regardless of the date of the Festum, Painter’s date of 1488 for the second edition of the Directorium suggests that Caxton experimented with the two-pull method within a year of importing the Missale and Legenda.

n o t e s t o p a g e s 7 4 – 7 6 317

Kuskin Notes

11/15/07

9:38 AM

Page 318

79. Medieval Merchant Venturers, 170. Dual guild membership was not especially unusual in the late Middle Ages: see J. M. Imray, “Les Bones Gentes de la Mercerye de Londres”; Sutton, Caxton Was a Mercer, 121; and Heather Swanson, “The Illusion of Economic Structure: Craft Guilds in Late Medieval English Towns,” Past and Present 121 (1988): 33. On the statute demanding artisans restrict themselves to one guild (“Artificers, Handicraft people, hold them every one to one Mystery,” 37 Edward III c.6), see Heather Swanson, Medieval Artisans: An Urban Class in Late Medieval England (Oxford: Blackwell, 1989), 4. 80. PRO, C 67/51. Caxton took this pardon out to exonerate himself from any connection to the abortive gentry rebellion against Richard III in October 1483. Gill presents the document in an appendix to her article: Willelmus Caxton civis et mercerus Londonie alias dictus Willelmus Caxton nuper civis et mercerus Londonie alias dictus Wellelmus Caxton mercator Stapule Calesie alias dictus Willelmus Caxton nuper Magister sive Gubernator mercatorum Anglie residencium in partibus Brabancie Flandrie Holandi et Zelandi seu et cetera. Teste Rege apud Westmonasterium xx die Maii. (“Caxton and the Rebellion of 1483,” 118) Caxton was not alone in requesting pardon: up to 1,100 people petitioned for similar pardons. Though the pardon seems a pro forma maneuver, Caxton was nevertheless close to the members of the rebellion, and his political associates, particularly John Fogge and John Scott, were involved as leaders. In general, Caxton’s biographers have chosen to stress exclusively Caxton’s identity as a Mercer. The argument against conflating the early Caxtons is fourfold: (1) Caxton is never connected with raw wool cloth; (2) a 1458 document for a Stapler named William Caxton to travel to Bruges is redundant if Caxton the printer is already in Bruges; (3) Caxton the printer claims never to have been in France; (4) Crotch presents a seal as belonging to a Caxton-the-Stapler which ultimately belongs to William Cresse (Painter, William Caxton, 162). Crotch (Prologues and Epilogues, xlvi), and following him Richard R. Gri¤th (“The Early Years of William Caxton,” 37), argued that Caxton could be both; indeed Gri¤th followed the implications of reconsidering Caxton’s identity in a most sustained investigation well before Gill’s discovery, and even points out that Caxton’s master, Robert Large, became a Stapler the year after Caxton became his apprentice. While one would want to be wary of conflating all the possible variations of the name Caxton into a single individual, Gri¤th’s analysis deserves serious attention for those interested in understanding Caxton’s past in detail. 81. These documents are listed in Blake, Authors of the Middle Ages, 55. 82. Blake, Caxton and His World, 40 83. I am indebted to Peter Andersen for this last observation. 84. Bibliography, 13. 85. In “The Illusion of Economic Structure,” 29. See also Sylvia L. Thrupp, “Medieval Gilds Reconsidered,” Journal of Economic History 2 (1943): 164– 73,

318 n o t e s t o p a g e s 7 7 – 7 8

Kuskin Notes

11/15/07

9:38 AM

Page 319

and Gervase Rosser, “Crafts, Guilds and the Negotiation of Work in the Medieval Town,” Past and Present 154 (1997): 3–31.

Chapter Two. Reading Caxton 1. As early as 1922 Henry Lathrop noted in “The First English Printers and Their Patrons,” The Library ser. iv, 3 (1922): 69–96, that the categories of patronage and commerce had polarized Caxton studies. Lathrop attempted to bridge these two camps by suggesting that Caxton was a man of letters, and though this term has had some popularity, work since Lathrop’s continues to be phrased in more absolute terms. For example, in the “The English Market,” Graham Pollard writes, “Though Caxton liked to advertise the importance of his translations and the noble patronage which he received, I suspect that he may sometimes have liked to think of himself as a successful merchant and that his chief claim to commercial fame was that he had introduced a brand new line in the small-wares trade” (13). Currently, Caxton’s two leading biographers actually argue opposite views: in William Caxton, George Painter reads Caxton as intimate with the nobility, while N. F. Blake states that Caxton was “essentially a businessman all his life” in Caxton and His World (216) and made use of what he calls “anonymous patronage.” Russell Rutter takes issue with both Painter and Blake in “William Caxton and Literary Patronage” to recognize that Caxton’s language in these cases demands such a wide definition of patronage that it dilutes the term altogether. Similarly, Anne F. Sutton, in “Caxton Was a Mercer” and her article with Livia Visser-Fuchs, “Ramon Lull’s Order of Chivalry Translated by William Caxton,” The Ricardian 9 (1993): 110–29, argues that Caxton’s commercial expertise dominated the way he saw his press. While Rutter, Sutton, and Visser-Fuchs provide an important correction to Painter’s and Blake’s assessments, they accept a notion of marketing without discussing the ways Caxton intellectually produces the book as a marketable item. 2. “Marketing,” 95. 3. For background on the relationship between the Low Countries and England, see Caroline Barron and Nigel Saul’s England and the Low Countries in the Late Middle Ages ( New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1995), particularly Barron’s introduction, “England and the Low Countries, 1377–1477,” 1–28. 4. See H. L. Gray’s “English Foreign Trade from 1446 to 1482,” in Studies in English Trade in the Fifteenth Century, ed. Eileen Power and M. M. Postan (1933; repr., New York: Barnes & Noble, 1966), 1–38, especially 16–19. The decline in wool exports at this time can also be attributed to disease, extreme weather, the collapse of demesne farming, and the development of wool brokers. In “Wool Yields in the Medieval Economy,” Economic History Review ser. ii, 41 (1988): 368–91, M. J. Stephenson writes that by the mid-fifteenth century, “the combination of falling prices and wool yields had cut deeply into the profitability

n o t e s t o p a g e s 81 – 83 319

Kuskin Notes

11/15/07

9:38 AM

Page 320

of wool production. The level of profitability was su¤ciently low to make largescale demesne wool production marginal. The di±erence between returns from leasing the flocks out and managing them directly became too small to outweigh the inherent risks of sheep farming on a grand scale” (389). 5. The term merchant adventurer develops only in the mid-fifteenth century, and includes guilds such as the Drapers, Fishmongers, Grocers, Haberdashers, Skinners, and Tailors, as well as the Mercers. It is only after 1486 that the London Merchant Adventurers begin to take on the trappings of an independent guild: livery and a separate court. See E. M. Carus-Wilson’s Medieval Merchant Venturers, especially 160, 175–76, and her introduction, where she discusses England’s fifteenth-century “transformation” from an exporter of raw materials to an exporter of manufactured textiles (xx–xxi). 6. Maurice Keen, England in the Later Middle Ages, 461–74. 7. Carus-Wilson writes, “The Mercers dominated the London group [of Merchant Adventurers] as the London group dominated the Netherlands group” (Medieval Merchant Venturers, 150). This domination appears to have continued until 1526, at which point it factionalized the company, which stopped meeting at Mercers’ Hall. See also J. M. Imray, “The Merchant Adventurers and Their Records,” Journal of the Society of Archivists 2 (1964): 457–67. 8. For Overey see Painter, William Caxton, 25–31, and Sutton, “Caxton Was a Mercer,” 127–33. 9. Two articles useful toward a review of medieval finance are Harry A. Miskimin’s “Monetary Movements and Market Structure—Forces for Contraction in Fourteenth- and Fifteenth-Century England,” Journal of Economic History 24 (1964): 470–90, and, more recently, Pamela Nightingale’s “Monetary Contraction and Mercantile Credit in Later Medieval England,” Economic History Review ser. ii, 43 (1990): 560–75. Miskimin argues that the contraction in bullion led to an increase in per capita wealth in the nonagricultural classes across the fifteenth century, resulting in a greater consumption of luxury goods. Nightingale traces the fluctuation of credit in relation to bullion from the control of the Grocers’ Company in the early fifteenth century to the London Mercers and Drapers to argue that the English credit system responded to the expansion and contraction of bullion, allowing English merchants to continue to trade successfully. 10. Edited in William Blades’s The Life and Typography, 1:91. Blades reproduces an incorrect date for the letter, which should read October 1464. A. F. Sutton and P. W. Hammond provide the correct reading in “The Problems of Dating and the Dangers of Redating: The Acts of Court of the Mercers’ Company of London, 1453–1527,” Journal of the Society of Archivists 6 (1978): 87–91. Painter mistakenly follows Blades, William Caxton, 33–35. See also Blake, Caxton and His World, 41–42. 11. The two seminal articles on medieval credit are M. M. Postan’s “Credit in Medieval Trade” and “Private Financial Instruments in Medieval England,”

320 n o t e s t o p a g e s 83 – 87

Kuskin Notes

11/15/07

9:38 AM

Page 321

both reprinted in his Medieval Trade and Finance (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1973), 1–27 and 28–64 respectively. In these articles Postan argues against an evolutionary model of capitalism by tracing the formal and informal financial apparatuses from the thirteenth to the fifteenth centuries. Postan estimates that 75 percent of English financing could have been done by credit. 12. On Caxton’s trade deals in the 1450s see Painter, William Caxton, 16–24; Blake, Caxton and His World, 26–54; Gill, “William Caxton and the Rebellion of 1483,” 106–10; and Anne F. Sutton’s “Caxton Was a Mercer,” 122–32. 13. Blades, Life and Typography, 1:92. 14. Caxton does not provide a date for the final printing of the Recuyell. Painter argues in William Caxton that the text should be dated 1475 on the grounds that it was printed continuously with the Game and Play of the Chess, the date of which he reads as 1475. This date has the advantage of providing a time frame for Veldener to help Caxton set up his press at Bruges and manufacture Caxton’s Type 1 (59–63). N. F. Blake refutes Painter in “Dating the First Books Printed in English,” in William Caxton and English Literary Culture (London: Hambledon Press, 1991), 75–87, by arguing that the date of the Game and Play of the Chess should be read as modern 1474, moving the Recuyell back to late 1473 or early 1474. Blake suggests that during the remaining years Caxton is known to have been in Bruges, where he printed his French texts. The more accepted date is 1473/74. 15. Traditionally, this period is associated with Caxton’s increasing connection to the court of Margaret, Duchess of York and wife of Charles the Bold, possibly as an adviser for her personal investments (Edward, in fact, granted Margaret duty-free trading privileges). Further, Caxton also tells in the Recuyell that he received a yearly fee from Margaret and that he worked on his translation in Ghent, which, Painter notes, places him in her retinue at Ten Walle in January 1471, just before his move to Cologne. Exactly when Caxton resigned his position as governor and why he left Margaret’s service is unknown: in William Caxton, Painter argues that “Caxton’s governorship ended [between October 1470 and March 1471] as a direct consequence of the Lancastrian restoration, and without his wish or intention,” that “broken” he underwent an “exile” when the Yorkist crown was overturned (44–45). Yet given how quickly the Yorkist house recuperated its position, that the similarly Yorkist governor John Pickering (who both preceded and succeeded Caxton) went apparently undisturbed by the events of 1470 and 1471, and that Caxton remained a high-profile Yorkist diplomat until his return to England, the notion of “exile” implies a dramatic break to what is perhaps a more progressive shift in Caxton’s interests and expertise. 16. For a discussion of Caxton’s use of Lydgate see N. F. Blake’s three articles “Caxton and Chaucer,” Leeds Studies in English n.s. 1 (1967): 19–36; “Caxton and the Courtly Style,” Essays and Studies n.s. 21 (1968): 29–45; and “Lydgate and Caxton.” 17. See “Dullness.”

n o t e s t o p a g e s 87 – 92 321

Kuskin Notes

11/15/07

9:38 AM

Page 322

18. See Christine Weightman, Margaret of York, Duchess of Burgundy, 1446–1503 (Gloucester and New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1989). For specific discussions of Margaret’s library see Muriel J. Hughes, “The Library of Margaret of York, Duchess of Burgundy,” The Private Library 3rd ser., 7 (1984): 53–78, and Thomas Kren, “The Library of Margaret of York and the Burgundian Court,” in The Visions of Tondal from the Library of Margaret of York, ed. Thomas Kren and Roger S. Wieck ( Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1990), 9–18. Lotte Hellinga includes a list of fourteen manuscripts commissioned by Margaret between her marriage to Charles in 1468 and his death in 1477 in “Reading an Engraving: William Caxton’s Dedication to Margaret of York, Duchess of Burgundy,” in Across the Narrow Seas: Studies in the History and Bibliography of Britain and the Low Countries, ed. Susan Roach (London: British Library, 1991), 1–15. 19. John Lydgate, The Troy Book, 4 vols., ed. H. Bergen, EETS e.s. 97, 103, 106, 126 (1906–35; repr., Millwood, N.Y.: Kraus Reprints, 1973), 5:3462–69. 20. Cited by Paul Needham, “Johann Gutenberg and the Catholicon Press,” Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America 76 (1982): 437 n. 1 (trans. Phyllis Jestice). See the ensuing debate: W. J. Partridge, “The Type-Setting and Printing of the Mainz Catholicon,” The Book Collector 35 (1986): 21–52; and Paul Needham, “The Type-Setting of the Mainz Catholicon: A Reply to W. J. Partridge,” The Book Collector 35 (1986): 293–304. 21. See Nicolas Barker, “Caxton’s Typography,” 120. Barker reviews the history of Caxton’s typefaces and reprints the illustrations of Caxton’s type found in William Blades, Life and Typography. See also discussions in Painter, William Caxton, 61–62, and Severin Corsten, “Caxton in Cologne.” 22. See Diane Bornstein, “Caxton’s Chivalric Romances”; N. F. Blake, Caxton and His World, 64–78; Derek Pearsall, “The English Romance in the Fifteenth Century,” 56–83; Margaret Kekewich, “Edward IV, William Caxton, and Literary Patronage in Yorkist England,” Modern Language Review 66 (1971): 481–87; Gordon Kipling’s “John Skelton and Burgundian Letters,” and his The Triumph of Honour. 23. See W. J. Partridge, “The Use of William Caxton’s Type 3 by John Lettou and William De Machlinia in the Printing of Their Yearbook 35 Henry VI, c. 1481–82,” British Library Journal 9 (1982): 56–65; and Lotte Hellinga, Caxton in Focus, 72–76. 24. STC 15375. This edition belonged to Elizabeth Woodville, sister-in-law to Margaret. The engraving was discovered by S. Montague Peartree and presented in “A Portrait of William Caxton,” Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs 7 (1905): 383–87; it is discussed by A. W. Pollard in “Recent Caxtoniana,” The Library ser. ii, 6 (1905): 337–53. Books printed for presentation to noble patrons were often hand-illuminated, or, as in the case for Earl Rivers’s presentation copy of his translation of the Dictes and Sayings, entirely copied over into manu-

322 n o t e s t o p a g e s 92 – 9 7

Kuskin Notes

11/15/07

9:38 AM

Page 323

script form. The most elaborately hand-decorated editions come from Antoine Vérard’s shop, where Vérard would go so far as to add red rulings to his editions to make them appear more like manuscripts. See Eleanor P. Spencer, “Antoine Vérard’s Illuminated Vellum Incunables,” in Manuscripts in the Fifty Years After the Invention of Printing: Some Papers Read at a Colloquium at the Warburg Institute on 12–13 March 1982, ed. J. B. Trapp (London: Warburg Institute, University of London, 1983), 62–65. For further discussion of manuscripts copied out of early printed books, see Cora E. Lutz, “Manuscripts Copied from Printed Books,” Yale University Library Gazette 49 (1975): 261–67; M. D. Reeve, “Manuscripts Copied from Printed Books,” in Manuscripts in the Fifty Years After the Invention of Printing, 12–20, and N. F. Blake, “Aftermath.” Even more workaday printed texts were not exact duplicates in the sense of the modern book: Curtis Bühler discusses variation within print runs of Caxton’s first edition of his Game and Play of the Chess, his Caton, and his Eneydos in “Caxton Variants,” The Library ser. iv, 17 (1937): 62–69. See also Bühler, The Fifteenth-Century Book: The Scribes, the Printers, the Decorators (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1960). 25. See Hellinga, “Reading an Engraving,” 2, and 10 n. 6 in which she reports, “Dr Paul Needham established that the leaf with the engraving, although now tipped in, appears to be integral to the copy and kindly communicated this finding to me.” 26. Two copies of the Advertisement exist: one at the Bodleian Library ( Douce frag.e.I.), and one at the John Rylands Library (announced with facsimile in The Bulletin of the John Rylands Library 44 [1962]: 265). The Advertisement’s date is contested: because records do not exist for Caxton’s shop at the Almonry at Westminster until 1482, that date has traditionally been taken as the earliest one possible. In “Caxton, His Contemporaries and Successors in the Book Trade from Westminster Documents,” The Library ser. v, 31 (1976): 305–26, Howard Nixon points out that Caxton may just as well have leased his shop from his arrival in England in 1476. This earlier date for the Advertisement is favored by most scholars; see Hellinga, Caxton in Focus, 43, and n. 29 below for a more complete bibliography on Caxton’s shop. 27. In “Caxton’s Typography,” Barker argues that Caxton initially purchased Type 3 before coming to England but used it only once, in his 1476 Indulgence, before printing the Advertisement, which Barker dates between 1479 and 1480. This creates an unexplained delay of up to four years in which the expensive typeface sat idle. If the Advertisement is dated earlier, this unlikely delay is avoided. See Hellinga, Caxton in Focus, 83, for her review of Caxton’s Type 3, and her “Tradition and Renewal,” for the argument that Caxton actually owned the matrices for Type 3 (15). 28. The “reed pale” has been variously interpreted as a unique sign for Caxton’s shop, Caxton’s arms, and, most recently, the arms of the owner of the house Caxton rented. See James Moran’s discussion of the “reed pale” at the end of

n o t e s t o p a g e s 9 7 – 10 6 323

Kuskin Notes

11/15/07

9:38 AM

Page 324

“Caxton and the City of London,” Journal of Printing Historical Society 11 (1976–77): 81–91. 29. Discussions of the archival information regarding Caxton’s shops are much confused due to W. J. B. Crotch’s early incorrect presentation of this material in The Prologues and Epilogues, and Lawrence E. Tanner’s subsequent discussion in “William Caxton’s Houses at Westminster,” The Library ser. v, 12 (1957): 153–66. Though Tanner’s article provides tremendously detailed information regarding where Caxton’s houses actually stood, it also allowed Crotch’s errors to stand. Nixon, “Caxton, His Contemporaries and Successors,” provides an important corrective by summarizing the Westminster Muniments as reporting that in 1476 Caxton took “una shopa” between the two northernmost flying buttresses of the chapter house for 10s. per annum. In 1482 they also record Caxton’s having taken two tenements in the Almonry at £2. 13s. 4d. a year, and a small loft above the Gate of the Almonry for an additional 3s. 4d. Since the 1482 date cannot be taken as Caxton’s first lease of these buildings because earlier records do not exist, it is just as likely Caxton rented all four spaces upon his return to England. For 1485 the Muniments report a change in rents, suggesting Caxton dropped or changed one of the tenements; from 1488 they show him taking another tenement in the Almonry at 6s. 8d. 30. Howard Nixon reviews the scholarship on Caxton’s bindery and provides a useful list of bindings in “William Caxton and Bookbinding,” Journal of Printing Historical Society 11 (1976–77): 92–113. See also Painter’s discussion of Caxton’s bindings in “Caxton Through the Looking Glass,” Gutenberg Jahrbuch (1963): 73–80, and Backhouse, et al. William Caxton: An Exhibition, 90–93. 31. For Ebesham, see A. I. Doyle’s “William Ebesham”; for bookbinders in Westminster, see Pollard’s “The Names of Some English Fifteenth-Century Binders,” The Library ser. v, 25 (1970): 193–218; for the Caxton binder, see Nixon’s “William Caxton and Bookbinding.” Nixon reviews five additional bookbinders who rented in the Westminster sanctuary area in the late fifteenth, early sixteenth centuries in “Caxton, His Contemporaries and Successors.” 32. “William Ebesham,” 321. 33. This is the argument Pollard presents in his Sandars Lectures, one Margaret Deanesly advances through her famous assertion of the “extreme booklessness” of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries in “Vernacular Books in England in the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries,” Modern Language Review 15 (1920): 349, and the one Elizabeth Eisenstein asserts when she suggests a manuscript “economy of scarcity” in contrast to the print world in “From Scriptoria to Printing Shops: Evolution and Revolution in the Fifteenth-Century Book Trade,” in Books and Society in History: Papers of the Association of College and Research Libraries Rare Books and Manuscripts Preconference, 24–28 June 1980, ed. Kenneth E. Carpenter ( New York: R. R. Bowker, 1983), 30. 34. Poets, Patrons, and Printers: Crisis in Authority in Late Medieval France ( Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1995), 5.

324 n o t e s t o p a g e s 10 6 – 10 7

Kuskin Notes

11/15/07

9:38 AM

Page 325

35. See Kate Harris, “The Evidence for Ownership”; C. Paul Christianson, “Evidence,” 87–108; and C. F. R. de Hamel, “Reflexions on the Trade in Books of Hours at Ghent and Bruges,” in Manuscripts in the Fifty Years After the Invention of Printing, 29–33. For further discussion of the collaborative nature of Bruges manuscript production, see also Noël Geirnaert, “Classical Texts in Bruges Around 1473: Cooperation of Italian Scribes, Bruges Parchment Rulers, Illuminators and Bookbinders for Johannes Crabbe, Abbot of Les Dunes Abbey (CUL MS 17),” Transactions of the Cambridge Bibliographical Society 10 (1992): 173–81. 36. See, for example, A. I. Doyle and M. B. Parkes, “The Production of Copies of the Canterbury Tales”; A. I. Doyle, “English Books in and out of Court from Edward III to Henry VII,” in English Court Culture in the Later Middle Ages, ed. V. J. Scattergood and J. W. Sherborne (London: St. Martin’s Press, 1983), 163–81; Julia Bo±ey and Carol M. Meale, “Selecting the Text: Rawlinson C.86 and Some Other Books for London Readers,” in Regionalism in Late Medieval Manuscripts and Texts: Essays Celebrating the Publication of A Linguistic Atlas of Late Mediaeval English, ed. Felicity Riddy (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 1991), 143–69; and Anne F. Sutton and Livia Visser-Fuchs, “Choosing a Book in Late Fifteenth-Century England and Burgundy,” in Barron and Saul, England and the Low Countries in the Late Middle Ages, 61–98. 37. Briefly, English book artisans formed a guild of text writers and illuminators in 1403, which developed into the Mystery of Stationers, the common tag for the various craftsmen associated with book production; however, 1357 city legislation excepting writers of court hand, illuminators, and barbers from jury duty suggests that these trades were already formally incorporated well before the fifteenth century. For background material on these guilds, see three articles by Graham Pollard: “The Company of Stationers Before 1557,” The Library ser. iv, 18 (1937): 1–38; “The Early Constitution of the Stationers’ Company,” The Library ser. iv, 18 (1937): 235–60; and “The English Market.” 38. C. Paul Christianson, “The Rise of London’s Book Trade,” in Hellinga and Trapp, The Cambridge History of the Book, 131. 39. See Curtis Bühler, The Fifteenth-Century Book, and N. F. Blake’s “Aftermath.” For the specialized role manuscripts took on as the press continued to expand, see J. W. Saunders, “The Stigma of Print: A Note on the Social Bases of Tudor Poetry,” Essays in Criticism 1 (1951): 139–64; Harold Love, “Scribal Publication in Seventeenth-Century England,” Transactions of the Cambridge Bibliographic Society 9 (1987): 130–54; and Arthur F. Marotti’s Manuscript, Print, and the English Renaissance Lyric. 40. See Mary C. Erler, “Devotional Literature,” 596. Erler records that the first printed book of hours was published in Rome around 1473 by Theobald Schenbecher. Nicolas Jenson in Venice followed with three more editions in 1474–75, as did printers in Ferrara and Naples in 1475–76. Caxton produced at least four editions: STC 15867, 15868, 15871, and 15872. A number of versions were printed abroad for the English market, including one extremely early

n o t e s t o p a g e s 10 8 – 10 9 325

Kuskin Notes

11/15/07

9:38 AM

Page 326

Cologne edition, known only from fragments: the 1475 Breuiarium ad usum Sarum. For the books printed in Venice, as well as an excellent overview, see also David Rogers, “Johann Hamman at Venice: A Survey of His Career. With a Note on the Sarum ‘Horae’ of 1494,” in Essays in Honour of Victor Scholderer, ed. Dennis E. Rhodes ( Mainz: Karl Pressler, 1970), 349–68. 41. “Caxton and the Trade in Printed Books,” The Book Collector 4 (1955): 197. Caxton exported 140 French volumes on December 10, 1488. Kerling’s essay is substantially updated and corrected by Paul Needham in “The Customs Rolls,” 148–63. See also Kate Harris, “The Evidence for Ownership,” 163–99; Janet Backhouse, “Caxton’s Imports of Books,” in William Caxton: An Exhibition, 77; Henry R. Plomer, “The Importation of Books into England in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries: An Examination of Some Customs Rolls,” The Library ser. iv, 4 (1923): 146–50, and his “The Importation of Low Country and French Books into England, 1480 and 1502–3,” The Library ser. iv, 9 (1928): 164–68; Elizabeth Armstrong, “English Purchases of Printed Books from the Continent, 1465–1526,” English Historical Review 94 (1979): 268–90; and Lotte Hellinga, “Importation of Books Printed on the Continent.” Graham Pollard also discusses wholesale importation in “The Names of Some English Fifteenth-Century Binders.” 42. Blades, Life and Typography, 1:122–23. 43. Discussed in Lucien Febvre and Henri-Jean Martin, The Coming of the Book, 49–56; Elizabeth L. Eisenstein, The Printing Press, 49–53; and Rudolf Hirsch, Printing, Selling, and Reading, 40±. The text of this suit is translated and described in Douglas C. McMurtrie’s The Gutenberg Documents: With Translations of the Texts into English, Based with Authority on the Compilation by Dr. Karl Schorbach ( New York: Oxford University Press, 1941), 93–127. 44. The Coming of the Book, 49–56; Gutenberg Documents, 175–87. 45. In Lister M. Matheson’s “Printer and Scribe: Caxton, the Polychronicon, and the Brut,” Speculum 60 (1985): 599. 46. As presented in Caxton’s 1476/77 edition; unsigned pages 218 and 219 respectively. 47. See Febvre and Martin, The Coming of the Book, 49–60. 48. Quoted in Barker, “Caxton’s Typography,” 116. 49. STC 5013, a.iiv, and STC 21429, u9. 50. “Perpetual Motion: Alchemy and the Technology of the Self,” Studies in the Age of Chaucer 15 (1993): 28 n. 8.

Chapter Three. Chaucerian Inheritances 1. Cultural Capital, 30. 2. Simon Horobin and Linne R. Mooney, “A Piers Plowman Manuscript by the Hengrwt /Ellesmere Scribe and Its Implications for London Standard English,” Studies in the Age of Chaucer 26 (2004): 96–97.

326 n o t e s t o p a g e s 110 – 117

Kuskin Notes

11/15/07

9:38 AM

Page 327

3. Alternately known by Hammond’s title, “A Reproof to Lydgate”; see Eleanor Prescott Hammond, “A Reproof to Lydgate,” MLN 26 (1911): 74–76. Henry Noble MacCracken attributed this poem to William de la Pole, the Duke of Su±olk, in “An English Friend of Charles of Orléans,” PMLA 26 (1911): 142–80. MacCracken’s identification has been met with skepticism. In the most sustained examination of the poems, Maria Jansen argues, “Su±olk is an attractive candidate, but the objection to MacCracken’s theory is that there is too little evidence to warrant any poetic ascription. In fact, the evidence either way is far too uncertain to merit a definitive statement,” The ‘Su±olk’ Poems: An Edition of the Love Lyrics in Fairfax 16 Attributed to William de la Pole (Groningen: Universiteitsdrukkerij, 1989), 30; see also her “Charles d’Orleans and the Fairfax Poems,” English Studies 70 (1989): 206–24. Julia Bo±ey takes the same position in Manuscripts of English Courtly Love Lyrics in the Later Middle Ages (Su±olk: D. S. Brewer, 1985), 65–67, and especially 76. Carol M. Meale overstates the case when she flatly states they were “erroneously” attributed to de la Pole, in “Reading Women’s Culture in Fifteenth-Century England: The Case of Alice Chaucer,” in Mediaevalitas: Reading the Middle Ages, ed. Piero Boitani and Anna Torti (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 1996), 83. Still, there remains no compelling reason to attribute the poem to any other person. 4. Lines 15–21 as reprinted in Jansen, The Su±olk Poems (#19), which I have corrected against the manuscript. Line numbers hereafter given within the text. 5. See David Lawton, “Dullness.” 6. The Riverside Chaucer, IV.29. Further citations to Chaucer will be given parenthetically. 7. On Lydgate’s antifeminism, see Julia Bo±ey, “Lydgate’s Lyrics and Women Readers,” in Smith and Taylor, Women, the Book and the Worldly, 139–49. 8. Chaucer and His Readers, 3. 9. See René Wellek, The Rise of English Literary History, 1–2. 10. Lerer, Chaucer and His Readers, 8. This is true for both the text of the Canterbury Tales and, with the exception of the clearly linked units, the order of the tales as well. See John M. Manly and Edith Rickert, The Text of The Canterbury Tales Studied on the Basis of All Known Manuscripts, 8 vols. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1940; hereafter referred to as The Text), particularly their conclusions on tale order and authorial intention at the end of volume 2, 475–94; see also Ralph Hanna III, Pursuing History, and Charles A. Owen, Jr., The Manuscripts of The Canterbury Tales (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 1991). 11. Lerer, Chaucer and His Readers, 8. 12. A few of the poems appear elsewhere: one in London, Lambeth Palace MS 306, and seven in the autograph manuscript of Charles d’Orléans, Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale, MS fonds français 25458. BL Additional 34360 presents a roundel—now attributed to Alain Chartier—to de la Pole, as does TCC R.3.20; see J. C. Laidlaw, The Poetical Works of Alain Chartier (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1974), 130 and 142, and Aage Brusendor±, The Chaucer Tradition,

n o t e s t o p a g e s 118 – 122 327

Kuskin Notes

11/15/07

9:38 AM

Page 328

especially 38–39 for de la Pole, and 186–92 for Fairfax 16 and his designation of the name “Hammond Group.” 13. For de la Pole’s biography, see Ralph A. Gri¤ths, The Reign of King Henry VI: The Exercise of Royal Authority, 1422–1461 (London: Ernest Benn, 1981), especially 676–86. 14. For Shirley, see Lerer, Chaucer and His Readers, 117–46; Margaret Connolly, John Shirley; as well as Julia Bo±ey and A. S. G. Edwards, “‘Chaucer’s Chronicle,’ John Shirley, and the Canon of Chaucer’s Shorter Poems,” Studies in the Age of Chaucer 20 (1998): 201–18. 15. Samuel Moore, “Patrons of Letters in Norfolk and Su±olk, c. 1450,” part 1, PMLA 27 (1912): 203. 16. The Siege of Thebes exists in thirty-one manuscripts. Lydgate’s main sources are the Roman de Edipus and the Hystoire de Thebes, prose redactions of Le Roman de Thèbes. Dated between 1421 and 1422, the Siege of Thebes is generally considered one of Lydgate’s few unpatroned works; Meale proposes that the work was commissioned for Alice’s betrothal to de la Pole in 1432 (“Reading Women’s Culture,” 92). The work was edited by Axel Erdmann and Eilert Ekwall for the Early English Text Series as Lydgate’s Siege of Thebes, 2 vols., EETS e.s. 108, 125 (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co., 1911–30). My citations from the Siege of Thebes come from this edition and are hereafter noted parenthetically within the text. More recently Robert R. Edwards has edited the work as John Lydgate: The Siege of Thebes (Kalamazoo: Western Michigan University for TEAMS, 2001); see Edwards’s bibliography for the current scholarship. 17. A number of critics have discussed the literary relationship between fathers and sons for Lancastrian literary culture, as well as the relationship between print and paternity for the Tudor period. See Spearing, Medieval to Renaissance, chapter 3, “Father Chaucer,” 88–110; Ethan Knapp, “Eulogies and Usurpations: Hoccleve and Chaucer Revisited,” Studies in the Age of Chaucer 21 (1999): 247–73, revised as chapter 4 of The Bureaucratic Muse: Thomas Hoccleve and the Literature of Late Medieval England (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2001); and Derek Pearsall, “Hoccleve’s Regement of Princes: The Poetics of Royal Self-Representation,” Speculum 69 (1994): 386–410. 18. See Gairdner, The Paston Letters, vol. 2, 146–49 ( letters, 120–21). 19. Between his return to England in late 1475 or early 1476 and 1479, Caxton printed the following first series of Chaucerian material: in 1476 he printed three short works by Lydgate in quarto half-sheet texts, The Churl and the Bird (STC 17009), The Horse, the Sheep and the Goose (STC 17019), and Stans puer ad mensam (STC 17030). In 1476/77 he printed the first English folio, the Canterbury Tales (STC 5082), and reprinted two of the Lydgate quartos, The Horse, the Sheep and the Goose (STC 17018) and The Churl and the Bird (STC 17008), as well as a new edition of Lydgate’s Temple of Glass in quarto (STC 17032). In 1477 he added miscellanies featuring Chaucer’s Parlement of the Fowls (titled the Temple of Brass, STC 5091) and Anelida and Arcite (STC 5090), and printed the Book of Courtesy (STC

328 n o t e s t o p a g e s 122 – 125

Kuskin Notes

11/15/07

9:38 AM

Page 329

3303). In 1478 he printed Chaucer’s translation of Boethius’s Consolation of Philosophy (STC 3199) with an epilogue and Stephen Surigonus’s epitaph. This last text is the only edition in the first series to include original writing by Caxton. Five years later, in 1483, Caxton returned to the Chaucerian tradition. At this time he printed new folio editions of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales (STC 5083), The Book of Fame (STC 5087), and Troilus and Criseyde (STC 5094), as well as Lydgate’s Life of Our Lady (STC 17023; four leaves of a trial printing, STC 17024, also remain), and John Gower’s Confessio amantis (STC 12142). This series is much more uniform than the first: all of the texts appear in the same year, all are printed in folio (the Gower in a larger, Median or Bastard size), and all are printed in some variant of Type 4 (the Canterbury Tales also makes some use of Type 2). The Canterbury Tales and the Confessio contain original prose, while the Book of Fame and the Lyfe of Our Lady contain prose and verse sections written by Caxton. In 1483 Caxton also printed two dream-visions associated with Lydgate: an anonymous translation of Guillaume de Deguilleville’s Pilgrimage of the Soul (STC 6474; one edition has reprinted sheet f3.6, identified as STC 6473), including interpolated English poetry, particularly, in book iv, chapter 20, Hoccleve’s “Complaint of the Virgin”; and the Court of Sapience (STC 17015; possibly 1480), attributed to Lydgate by Stephan Hawes in the Pastime of Pleasure. It is unclear to whom Caxton attributed these; he marks Lydgate’s authorship in Lyfe of Our Lady, writing, “This book was compyled by dan John lydgate monke of Burye / at the excitacion and styryng of the noble and victorious prynce / kyng harry the fyfthe / in thonoure glorye & reuerence of the byrthe of our moste blessyd lady / mayde wyf / and moder of our lorde jesu cryst / chapytred as foloweth by this table” (p2). Clearly, Caxton felt that these works belonged in the Chaucerian canon overall but was hesitant about their attribution. 20. The idea that the English fifteenth century is a period of repressive closure has deep roots in English literary history. C. S. Lewis suggests a fifteenthcentury “medievalization” of Chaucer’s originality (in Selected Literary Essays [London: Cambridge University Press, 1969], 27), part of a larger “history of decay” (English Literature in the Sixteenth Century, Excluding Drama [Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1954], 129) in which an English culture faced with the social chaos of the Lancastrian usurpation and the Wars of the Roses embraced established aesthetics and abandoned the exploitative poetics of Ricardian writers such as Chaucer, Langland, and the Pearl Poet. Three influential works have reasserted this conclusion for late twentieth-century scholarship: perhaps the most inclusive study, A. C. Spearing’s Medieval to Renaissance in English Poetry, argues that the fifteenth century is a “move back rather than forwards” in literary history” (89). Similarly, in two influential articles, “Chaucer’s Fifteenth-Century Audience and the Narrowing of the ‘Chaucer Tradition’” and “Fourteenth- and FifteenthCentury Writers and Readers of Chaucer,” Paul Strohm argues that the dissolution of Chaucer’s circle left the succeeding generation less interested in complexity and ambiguity than in a defined closure. Where aesthetics have given way

n o t e s t o p a g e 125 329

Kuskin Notes

11/15/07

9:38 AM

Page 330

to cultural studies as a critical focus, the result for fifteenth-century studies has been a change in register rather than in conclusion. See, for example, Nicholas Watson, “Censorship,” and Paul Strohm’s England’s Empty Throne. 21. Kevin Pask, The Emergence of the English Author, 13. 22. Thynne’s Workes has frequently been touted as the founding edition of the Chaucerian canon: for example, in The Chaucer Canon, W. W. Skeat writes, “The most important book, with regard to the Chaucerian canon, is of course Thynne’s first edition of Chaucer in 1532, as this was the first volume in which his Works were presented in a collected form,” (1900; repr., New York: Hastell House, 1965), 94. More recently, A. S. G. Edwards makes similar claims for Thynne’s edition, arguing that that edition is “the first comprehensive, singlevolume collection of Chaucer’s works” (“Chaucer from Manuscript to Print: The Social Text and the Critical Text,” Mosaic 28:4 [1995]: 4). So, Robert Costomiris argues for the importance of this edition in “Sharing Chaucer’s Authority,” 6. The problem with Edwards’s argument, as in Skeat’s before him and Costomiris’s after him, lies in his bold assertion of a sixteenth-century moment of origins while relying on the crucial importance of the fifteenth century overall. For example, Edwards acknowledges that the editions of Caxton, de Worde, Notary, and Pynson were all combined by readers into such editions well before Thynne, a point previously put forward by Julia Bo±ey, “Pynson’s Book of Fame.” Similarly, he argues that Thynne’s “example had no precedent and no imitators among early Chaucer editors” (8) but recognizes Caxton’s e±orts to correct his text and de Worde’s own role as an editor (6), as demonstrated by Thomas Garbàty, “Wynkyn de Worde’s ‘Sir Thopas’ and Other Tales,” Studies in Bibliography 31 (1978): 57–67. That Thynne’s edition is clearly traceable to Caxton’s before him is a bibliographic fact recognized as early as 1924, when W. W. Greg asserted that after Caxton “each successive printer, whatever alterations or corrections he may have introduced, set up his edition from one or the other of its predecessors” (“The Early Printed Editions of the Canterbury Tales,” PMLA 39 [1924]: 740). More recently, see Robert Costomiris, “The Influence of Printed Editions and Manuscripts on the Canon of William Thynne’s Canterbury Tales,” in Rewriting Chaucer: Culture, Authority, and the Idea of the Authentic Text, 1400– 1602 (Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1999), 237–57. See also Joseph A. Dane’s discussion of these early editions in Who Is Buried in Chaucer’s Tomb? particularly 50–74, and Lotte Hellinga’s caution that “there is a risk in concentrating on single tales . . . a book as textual source has to be examined as an integral production, as well as in its constituent textual parts” (“Tradition and Renewal,” 24). 23. Ralph Hanna, in Chaucer, The Riverside Chaucer, 1118. This point is true for the woodcuts, too; see David R. Carlson, “Woodcut Illustrations of the Canterbury Tales, 1483–1602,” The Library ser. vi, 19 (1997): 25–67. 24. Manipulating the text to fit the page was fairly standard practice in Caxton’s shop. Toshiyuki Takamiya argues for “the freedom of the compositor which

330 n o t e s t o p a g e s 126 – 129

Kuskin Notes

11/15/07

9:38 AM

Page 331

evidently prevailed in Caxton’s printshop,” in “Caxton’s Copy-fitting Devices in the Morte Darthur (1485): An Overview,” Chaucer in Perspective: Middle English Essays in Honour of Norman Blake, ed. Geo±rey Lester (She¤eld: She¤eld Academy Press, 1999), 361. Similarly, Curtis Bühler argues that “we must suppose that each compositor was responsible not only for setting up the type but also for distributing it again in his personal case,” in “Three Notes on Caxton,” The Library ser. iv, 17 (1937): 161. See also Bühler, “Caxton’s Variants,” The Library ser. iv, 17 (1937): 62–69, and Kiyokazu Mizobata, “Caxton’s Revisions: The ‘Game of Chess,’ the ‘Mirror of the World,’ and ‘Reynard the Fox,’” in Arthurian and Other Studies Presented to Shunichi Noguchi, ed. Takashi Suzuki and Tsuyoshi Mukai (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 1993), 257–62. 25. For example, Caxton’s edition reduces lines now taken as canonical, such as Chaucer’s “I preye hem also that they arrette it to the defaute of myn unkonnynge and nat to my wyl, that wold ful fayn have sayd better yf that I had had konnynge,” to “I praye hem also that they arette it to the defaute of myn unconnyng,” and reduces “my translacions and enditynges of worldly vanytees” to “namely of my translacions of Worldly Vanytees.” It is also missing “in it,” line 1071; “all,” line 1073; “the,” line 1087; and moves “for me” in line 1081. See Manly and Rickert, The Text, 8:545–46. The most thorough study of Caxton’s editions, Thomas Dunn’s The Manuscript Source of Caxton’s Second Edition of the Canterbury Tales (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1940), is needlessly ambiguous here, attributing these changes and the absence of certain lines simultaneously to the manuscript tradition and “eyeslip in the printing of Cx1” (3). Trinity College Cambridge, MS R.3.19, a manuscript roughly contemporary to Caxton’s which seems to have consulted the same copytext, does not have roughly comparable omissions. 26. See, for example, Míc≥ eál F. Vaughan, who writes, “Modern editorial consensus oversimplifies the widely varying manuscript forms of the rubrics. Those forms indicate a high degree of uneasiness, in exemplars or on the part of scribes, about how they might best meet—or more often, avoid—the demands of the uninterrupted text” (“Creating Comfortable Boundaries: Scribes, Editors, and the Invention of the Parson’s Tale,” in Rewriting Chaucer: Culture, Authority, and the Idea of the Authentic Text, 1400–1602, ed. Thomas A. Prendergast and Barbara Kline [Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1999], 48). Charles Owen writes, “Recent work on the manuscripts has pointed in a di±erent direction, namely that at Chaucer’s death The Canterbury Tales was a collection of fragments, some of which soon became hard to come by. Scribes and editors were faced with problems of arrangement and with the search for authentic links and tales. The Treatise with the Retraction, appended to the Parson’s Prologue as a Parson’s Tale, was perhaps not an ending ever intended by Chaucer” (“What the Manuscripts Tell Us About the Parson’s Tale,” Medium Aevum 63 [1994]: 245). Manly and Rickert link the Parson’s Tale and the Retraction, writing, “The presence of Rt in practically all the MSS that have the whole of the PsT and the persistence (so far

n o t e s t o p a g e 129 331

Kuskin Notes

11/15/07

9:38 AM

Page 332

as can be seen) of the same textual relations suggest that Rt was in the ancestor of all the MSS of PsT” (The Text, 2:471). Writing alone, John M. Manly is more assertive: “The Parson’s Tale, on the other hand, was probably never composed »by Chaucer, the two uncomposed fragments of penitential treaties found in our MSS under that designation being at best only loose materials, translated by Chaucer for future use, and copied by his literary executor as the Parson’s Tale only because Chaucer’s chest contained no other piece of prose that seemed appropriate to the Parson” (“Tales of the Homeward Journey,” Studies in Philology 28 [1931]: 616). A. J. Minnis writes, “I incline to the view that the ‘litel tretys’ on penitence and the ‘retracciouns’ (forming one unit) were added to the Canterbury Tales—probably by Chaucer but possibly by someone else—in keeping with the usual practice of compilatio” (Medieval Theory of Authorship, 208); see also James A. Work, “Chaucer’s Sermon and Retractions,” Modern Language Notes 47 (1932): 257–59. 27. Hanna lists these six manuscripts as Hengwrt, Harley 7334, Corpus 198, Merthyr, Ellesmere, and Cambridge Dd.4.24 ( Hanna, Pursuing History, 148). Owen discounts Merthyr as too fragmentary to discuss (The Manuscripts, 105), and provides an extended argument for the first six manuscripts written before 1420 as Hengwrt, Harley 7334, Corpus 198, Cambridge Dd.4.24, Ellesmere, and Lansdowne 851 (The Manuscripts, 7). Hengwrt and Ellesmere were both written by the same scribe, as were Harley 7334 and Corpus 198; Manly and Rickert argue that Lansdowne came from the same shop (The Text, 1:307). On the scribes of these manuscripts, see A. I. Doyle and M. B. Parkes, “The Production of Copies of the Canterbury Tales.” Some of the arguments in this essay are followed out by M. L. Samuels, “The Scribe of the Hengwrt and Ellesmere Manuscript of The Canterbury Tales,” Studies in the Age of Chaucer 5 (1983): 49–65; and J. J. Smith, “The Trinity Gower D-Scribe and His Work on Two Early Canterbury Tales Manuscripts,” in The English of Chaucer and His Contemporaries, ed. J. J. Smith (Aberdeen: Aberdeen University Press, 1988), 51–69. 28. For Mooney’s initial identification of Pinkhurst, previously known only as “Scribe B,” see “University of Cambridge Scholar Identifies Mystery Scribe of the Canterbury Tales,” 04/01/04 www.Cambridgenetwork.co.uk. Mooney’s identification of medieval scribes is presented on the “Late Medieval English Scribes Database” (www.medievalscribes.com/scribes.html), where she lists Pinkhurst’s literary texts as Geo±rey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales (Aberystwyth, National Library of Wales, Peniarth 392D, a.k.a. the Hengwrt manuscript); Geo±rey Chaucer’s Boece (Aberystwyth, National Library of Wales, Peniarth 393D); William Langland’s Piers Plowman, B-text (Cambridge, Trinity College Library, B.15.17 ( James 353); John Gower’s Confessio Amantis (Cambridge, Trinity College Library, R.3.2); Geo±rey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, end of Prioress’s Prologue and beginning of Prioress’s Tale (Cambridge, University Library, Kk.1.3); Geo±rey Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde ( Hatfield House, Marquess of Salisbury, Cecil Papers, Box S/1); and Geo±rey Chaucer’s Canterbury

332 n o t e s t o p a g e s 129 – 130

Kuskin Notes

11/15/07

9:38 AM

Page 333

Tales (San Marino, California, Henry E. Huntington Library, MS EL 26.C.9, a.k.a. the Ellesmere manuscript). For Mooney’s larger discussion of Scribe B’s involvement in the major works of Chaucer, Gower, and William Langland, see her article with Simon Horobin, “A Piers Plowman Manuscript by the Hengwrt/Ellesmere Scribe.” 29. Narrative, Authority, and Power, 24. For further references, see Vaughan, “Creating Comfortable Boundaries,” 82 n. 3. 30. That the Canterbury Tales should be edited separately from the Retraction is also Owen’s argument. Though I find Owen’s argument, and Vaughan’s elaboration of it, provocative, I take issue with his rejection of the Retraction overall. The Retraction is a historical part of the Canterbury Tales. As Owen himself writes, “For a large majority of mediaeval readers the Parson’s Tale and the Retraction belonged at the end of The Canterbury Tales” (“What the Manuscripts Tell Us About the Parson’s Tale,” 240). To eliminate the Retraction from an edition of the Canterbury Tales in the quest for authorial intention would to be to deny the historical tradition of reading the work as a unity. 31. Manly and Rickert, The Text, 2:57. 32. Ibid., 1:256–63. 33. Ibid., 1:530. 34. Daniel S. Silvia, “Some Fifteenth-Century Manuscripts of the Canterbury Tales,” in Chaucer and Middle English Studies in Honour of Rossell Hope Robbins, ed. Beryl Rowland (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1974), 161. More specifically, Silvia writes, “Fifty-five MSS have survived with reasonably complete texts of the Tales. Of these, nine originally contained the Tales along with works by other authors, while forty-six contained only the Tales. These forty-six MSS peak between 1450 and 1480, when they start to slacken o± with Caxton’s printing in c. 1478 and c. 1484” (154). Similarly, Charles A. Owen, Jr., phrases the evidence nicely: “The early editors sought to make a book out of the fragments they collected, a book that would satisfy contemporary expectations. The book we have is far more complex, showing us a unity in the process of evolving rather than the predictable, static, and conventional unity that is currently fashionable” (“The Alternative Reading of The Canterbury Tales: Chaucer’s Text and the Early Manuscripts,” PMLA 97 [1982]: 247). More recently, Linne R. Mooney counts sixtyfour complete or near complete copies in “A New Scribe of Chaucer and Gower,” Journal of the Early Book Society 7 (2004): 131–40. 35. For Bodleian Library MS Laud 739, see Manly and Rickert, The Text, 1:319–21; for Trinity College Cambridge, MS R.3.19, see Manly and Rickert, The Text, 1:533–34; Silvia, “Some Fifteenth-Century Manuscripts,” 156; and N. F. Blake, “Aftermath,” 419. 36. Manly and Rickert, The Text, 1:533. For this manuscript, see Eleanor Prescott Hammond, “On the Order of the Canterbury Tales: Caxton’s Two Editions,” Modern Philology 3 (1905–6): 162; Julia Bo±ey and John J. Thompson, “Anthologies and Miscellanies: Production and Choice of Texts,” in Gri¤ths and

n o t e s t o p a g e s 131 – 13 4 333

Kuskin Notes

11/15/07

9:38 AM

Page 334

Pearsall, Book Production, 283. The main scribe of Trinity College, R.3.19 worked at times with the “Hammond Scribe,” a prolific London copyist who worked on the Harley 372 edition of Hoccleve’s Regement of Princes; see Brusendor±, Chaucer Tradition, 181–82, for this name. More generally for booklet production, see Pamela Robinson, “The Booklet: A Self-Contained Unit in Composite Manuscripts,” Codicologica 3 (1980): 46–69. See also Dane’s caution regarding exaggeration of booklet evidence in Who Is Buried in Chaucer’s Tomb? 37–58. 37. On Sammelbände, and for a listing of Caxton editions bound as such, see Paul Needham, The Printer and the Pardoner, 17 and 69–80. These have been well discussed in terms of the Chaucerian tradition by Seth Lerer, who writes, “Caxton appeared to follow the established manuscript tradition of producing booklets or fascicles of individual works or groups of works that would later be brought together for a patron or a buyer” (“William Caxton,” in Wallace, The Cambridge History of Medieval English Literature, 726). See also the substantial body of work by Alexandra Gillespie: her “Poets, Printers, and Early English Sammelbände,” in Huntington Library Quarterly 67:2 (2004): 189–214, adds to Needham’s lists accounts of Bridgewater Sammelband (193 n. 7), Liverpool and Marco Sammelbände (194 n. 15), Selden Sammelband (196 n. 21), and the Moore Sammelband I and II (196 n. 21 and 199 n. 26, respectively); and “Caxton’s Chaucer and Lydgate Quartos: Miscellanies from Manuscript to Print,” Transactions of the Cambridge Bibliographical Society 12 (2000): 1–25, describes the Ferrers Sammelband and Doe Sammelband. Finally, see too “The Lydgate Canon in Print, 1476–1534,” Journal of the Early Book Society 3 (2000): 59–93, and her chapter “‘Folowynge the trace of mayster Caxton’: Some Histories of Fifteenth-Century Printed Books,” in Kuskin, Caxton’s Trace, 167–95. 38. Needham, The Printer and the Pardoner, 69–80. 39. Ibid., 66–67. 40. This is practically true in that print and manuscripts books were often sold unbound in loose quires or in a paper wrapper; see Ernst Philip Goldschmidt, Gothic and Renaissance Bookbindings (London, 1928; repr., Nieuwkoop: B. de Graaf, Amsterdam: N. Israel, 1967), 36–50; Needham, The Printer and the Pardoner, 17. 41. The cost of printed books is notoriously di¤cult to calculate because of the paucity of records. There are two witnesses to the price of a printed fifteenth-century Canterbury Tales: a record from a lawsuit involving Richard Pynson that lists a price per book of 5s. “p[re]nted and bounde,” and a note in Lady Margaret Beaufort’s account books for January 29, 1508, recording “a boke of Canterbury Tales. ijs. viijd.” Neither source indicates exactly to which of the current editions these books belong; still, the figures are roughly comparable to the remaindered price for the copies remaindered at St. Margaret’s Legenda ad usum Sarum I touched upon in chapter 2. For the Pynson lawsuit, see H. R. Plomer’s “Two Lawsuits of Richard Pynson,” The Library n.s. 10 (1909): 127. For the Beaufort Canterbury Tales, see Susan Powell, “Lady Margaret Beaufort and Her Books,”

334 n o t e s t o p a g e s 13 4 – 135

Kuskin Notes

11/15/07

9:38 AM

Page 335

The Library ser. vi, 20 (1998): 135 n. 238. Importantly, both of these witnesses notably undercut the average price of one-third a penny a page, which is the assumed average recorded in H. S. Bennett, “Notes on English Retail BookPrices, 1480–1560,” The Library ser. v, 5 (1950): 176; and Francis R. Johnson, “Notes on English Retail Book-Prices, 1550–1640,” The Library ser. v, 25 (1950): 83–112. In contrast, A. I. Doyle records that the London scribe William Ebesham charged Sir John Paston III for copying his “Grete book” “Aftir A peny a leef, which is right wele worth,” a generalized figure that does not appear to include finishing or binding (“William Ebesham,” 302). A fine manuscript would average out at much more. Both Rudolf Hirsch, Printing, Selling and Reading, 34–35, and William Blades, The Life and Typography of William Caxton, vol. 2:xxi, supply paper costs for Italian paper, but these remain sketchy, at best conjectural for Caxton. Hirsch, following Haebler, estimates labor at about 40–45 percent of printing cost, and, following Febvre and Martin, paper at one-third the total, concluding, “The permissible generalization therefore is that in the earliest period the cost of material probably equaled or slightly exceeded the cost of labor, that it decreased at a slow rate, but may have been reduced to a third of the total cost some time during the second half of the XVth century” (39). On the price of books in general, see H. E. Bell, “The Price of Books in Medieval England,” The Library ser. iv, 17 (1937): 322, and Beverly Boyd, Chaucer and the Medieval Book (San Marino: Huntington Library, 1973), especially her appendix on money and prices, 141–57. For Caxton’s paper stocks, see Daniel W. Moser, “Corrective Notes on the Structures and Paper Stocks of Four Manuscripts Containing Extracts from Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales,” Studies in Bibliography 52 (1999): 97–114, and his “The Use of Caxton Texts and Paper Stocks in Manuscripts of the Canterbury Tales,” in Chaucer in Perspective, ed. Lester, 161–77. 42. Gaskell, A New Introduction to Bibliography, 161. Arguments that maintain that fifteenth-century printing operated according to “bespoke” trade practices fail to realize this fundamental incentive. For the 1470s, print runs are known to vary between as few as 100 copies and as many as 2,500. The terms for Caxton’s particular output are di¤cult to estimate. H. S. Bennett suggests: “In the earliest days of printing on the continent Dr. Haebler has estimated that between four and five hundred copies would be a fair average for a book published between 1480–90, [but w]hether Caxton worked to such a figure we have no means of telling” (English Books & Readers 1475–1557, 224). Rudolf Hirsch argues, “By 1470 editions of 400 copies were coming o± the presses . . . editions of 100 copies are known” (Printing, Selling and Reading, 66). 43. This is the first feature of the author-function in “What Is an Author?” in Language, Counter-Memory, Practice: Selected Essays and Interviews, ed. Donald F. Bouchard, trans. Donald F. Bouchard and Sherry Simon ( Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1977), 124 (emphasis mine). I have some reservations about using this term. In brief, Michel Foucault argues that “the author also constitutes a principle of unity” (128) over a work that is fundamentally contradictory—“uneven”

n o t e s t o p a g e s 135 – 136 335

Kuskin Notes

11/15/07

9:38 AM

Page 336

he calls it—and this much seems true. For Foucault, however, the process of constituting the author in a functional capacity is largely legalistic, the outgrowth of copyright rules, apparently established “toward the end of the eighteenth and the beginning of the nineteenth century.” As a result the work remains alienated from its physical form, the laborers who made it forgotten in history, and the Middle Ages romanticized into a time when poetic labor was in some soft-focus way a natural activity: “There was a time,” says Foucault, “when those texts which we now call ‘literary’ (stories, folk tales, epics, and tragedies) were accepted, circulated, and valorized without any question about the identity of their author” (125). See Roger Chartier’s critique of Foucault in The Order of Books, 25–59; and for Guillory, Cultural Capital, 56. 44. Edited by Beverly Boyd as Chaucer According to William Caxton: Minor Poems and Boece, 1478 (Lawrence, Kans.: Allan Press, 1978). Brian Donaghey provides an appendix with detailed commentary on the remaining twenty-three complete and fragmentary copies in “Caxton’s Printing of Chaucer’s Boece,” in Chaucer in Perspective, ed. Lester, 73–99. Caxton is not alone in using the Consolation of Philosophy as a vehicle for establishing Chaucer’s authority: John Walton’s 1410 verse translation of Boethius’s Consolation of Philosophy also includes a tribute to Chaucer in its prologue. To Chaucer wat is flour of rethoryk In Englysshe tonge and excellent poete This wot y wel no wing may I do like †oghe so wat I of making entirmete And Gower wat so craftily doth trette As in hys book[es] of moralite †oghe y to weym in making am vnmete get must I schewe it forth that is in me. (33–40) The stanza contains the anthologizing function that we see in many fifteenthcentury texts, and especially in Caxton’s Book of Courtesy. McLean MS.184 apparently contained Walton’s translation bound with a version of Hoccleve’s Regement of Princes copied in the same hand, suggesting an individual owner’s appreciation for the Chaucerian canon as defined by its three main figures. See Mark Science, ed., Boethius: De consolatione philosophiae, translated by John Walton, EETS o.s. 170 (1927; repr., Millwood, N.Y.: Kraus Reprints, 1981), xii and 2. 45. The Book of Courtesy exists in two manuscript copies, Oriel College Oxford MS 79 and Balliol College Oxford MS 354, and three early prints, Caxton’s 1477 (STC 3303) and two by Wynkyn de Worde, one in a 1492 edition (STC 3304) that bears Caxton’s trademark printed upside down and reprinted at the end of the 1510 Stans puer ad mensam (STC 17030.5). Caxton’s print is taken to be the earliest extant copy. Caxton’s edition and the two manuscript versions are presented in parallel form in Frederick J. Furnivall’s Caxton’s Book of Curtesye, EETS

336 n o t e s t o p a g e 136

Kuskin Notes

11/15/07

9:38 AM

Page 337

e.s. 3 (1868; repr., Millwood, N.Y.: Kraus Reprints, 1973). Line numbers will be given parenthetically in my text. For criticism on the Book of Courtesy, see Mark Addison Amos, “‘For maners make man’: Bourdieu, de Certeau, and the Common Appropriation of Noble Manners in The Book of Courtesy,” in Medieval Conduct, ed. Kathleen Ashley and Robert L. A. Clark ( Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2001), 23–48. 46. Marx, Critique of Political Economy, 9. 47. This introductory section of Caxton’s epilogue generically follows the pattern laid out by the accessus ad auctores tradition. On the accessus, see chapter 3 of Rita Copeland’s Rhetoric, Hermeneutics, and Translation, especially 193–95, and “Rhetoric and Vernacular Translation in the Middle Ages,” Studies in the Age of Chaucer 9 (1987): 41–75, as well as A. J. Minnis, “The Influence of Academic Prologues on the Prologues and Literary Attitudes of Late Medieval English Writers,” Mediaeval Studies 43 (1981): 342–83, and Medieval Theory of Authorship, particularly his introduction, “The Significance of the Medieval Theory of Authorship,” and chapter 1, “Academic Prologues to ‘Auctores.’” 48. Chaucer and His Readers, 85. 49. Taken from Caxton’s edition; compare fragment IV, lines 26–33, in The Riverside Chaucer: Caxton’s 1483 edition revises the line to the more familiar “he is now ded and nailed in his cheste” (163r). 50. The Siege of Thebes, ll. 56–57. 51. Lerer, Chaucer and His Readers, 185. 52. See Christopher Canon, “Chaucer and Rape: Uncertainty’s Certainties,” Studies in the Age of Chaucer 22 (2000): 67–92. 53. Spearing, Medieval to Renaissance, 107. 54. Hoccleve’s Works: The Regement of Princes and Fourteen Minor Poems from the Egerton MS. 615, ed. Fredrick J. Furnivall, EETS e.s. 72 (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co., 1897), 465–69. For criticism on Hoccleve, see William Kuskin, “The Erasure of Labor: Hoccleve, Caxton, and the Information Age,” in The Middle Ages at Work, ed. Kellie Robertson and Michael Uebel ( New York: Palgrave, 2004), n. 3. 55. Sylvia L. Thrupp’s The Merchant Class of Medieval London, 203. For a shorter, more succinct argument along the same lines, see her article “The Problem of Conservation.” 56. The issue is connected to an ongoing process of change in urban structure stemming, in part, from the Black Death, taxation, and rural competition; see Charles Phythian-Adams, “Urban Decay in Late Medieval England,” in Towns and Societies: Essays in Economic History and Historical Sociology, ed. Philip Abrams and E. A. Wrigley (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1978), 169. 57. J. M. Imray, “Les Bones Gentes de la Mercerye de Londres,” 161. For evidence that the mercantile communities owned literary manuscripts of the Chaucerian poets, see Carol M. Meale, “The Libelle of Engyshe Polycye and Mercantile Literary Culture in Late-Medieval London,” in London and Europe in the

n o t e s t o p a g e s 137 – 146 337

Kuskin Notes

11/15/07

9:38 AM

Page 338

Later Middle Ages, ed. Julia Bo±ey and Pamela King, Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies (London: Queen Mary and Westfield College, University of London, 1995), 181–227. 58. The urban merchant class was less a fixed estate operating in, as Marx and Engels presume, “the little workshop of the patriarchal master” than a fluid group. See Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, “The Communist Manifesto,” in Karl Marx: Selected Writings, ed. D. McLellan (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1977), 227. See also Friedrich Engels, “The Origins of the Family, Private Property and the State,” in Marx and Engels, Selected Works (London: Lawrence and Wishard, 1968). 59. The two editions have been studied most extensively by Thomas Dunn in The Manuscript Source of Caxton’s Second Edition of the Canterbury Tales. Dunn concludes that Caxton had the 1483 text set from a corrected copy of his 1476/77 b-text, which he edited against a manuscript loosely related to the a-group, producing a unique conflation (see especially 2, 15, and 36). Caxton rearranges his text simply by moving the Squire’s Tale (from before to after the Merchant) and the Franklin’s Tale (placing it directly after the Squire), a modification Dunn attributes to his discovery of the words of the Franklin to the Squire, rather than a theory of fasicular displacement, as favored by Hammond in “On the Order of the Canterbury Tales.” Hammond usefully catalogues Caxton’s miscellaneous additions and subtractions of lines from the tales. More recently, see Barbara Bordalejo’s notes and collation on CD-ROM, Caxton’s Canterbury Tales: The British Library Copies (Leicester: Scholarly Digital Editions, 2003).

Chapter Four. Uninhabitable Chaucer 1. Caxton presents the “Epitaphium Galfridi Chaucer . per poetam laureatum Stephanum Surigonum Mediolanensem in decretis licenciatum” on the last page of the Consolation of Philosophy (94r–v). Surigonus received a bachelor’s degree in canon law from Milan, and taught Latin at Oxford between 1454 and 1464. He appears at the university at Cologne in 1471, where he became attached to Charles the Bold’s court and, afterward, returned to Cambridge in 1475 and 1476. The last four lines of the epitaph, separated from the main text by a space, suggest Caxton’s direct employment of Surigonus in a direct address to Chaucer: Post obitum Caxton voluit te viuere cum ¶ Willelmi. Chaucer clare poeta tuj Nam tua non solum compressit opuscula formis Has quoque sed laudes. iussit his esse tuas Noting this, William Blades suggested that Caxton “raised a public monument to [Chaucer’s] memory before St. Benet’s Chapel, in Westminster Abbey, in the shape of a pillar supporting a tablet upon which the above ‘Epitaphye’ was writ-

338 n o t e s t o p a g e s 147 – 155

Kuskin Notes

11/15/07

9:38 AM

Page 339

ten” (The Life and Typography of William Caxton, 2:67). Norman F. Blake argues that Caxton simply copied the epitaph from the tomb and added on the last four lines to contrive a relationship with Surigonus (Caxton and His World, 198–99), an argument that both runs against the critical tradition and has not been readily accepted. See Roberto Weiss, Humanism in England, 128; William Matthews, “Caxton and Chaucer: A Re-View,” in The Malory Debate: Essays on the Texts of Le Morte Darthur, ed. Bonnie Wheeler, Robert L. Kindrick, and Michael N. Salda (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 2000), 1–34; and George D. Painter’s remarks that Surigonus wrote a Latin verse advertisement for Johann Mentelin’s 1469 edition of Virgil, the first ever (William Caxton, 92–93). The passage has been discussed eloquently by a number of scholars. Seth Lerer argues that with Chaucer entombed, his authority epitomizes the paradoxical state of fifteenth-century literature as simultaneously constructed through a canon of “faders ancient,” but also engulfed by history. Thus, Caxton’s editions are “products of recovery” of a laureate past (Chaucer and His Readers, 150; conveniently, Lerer reprints the passage and provides a translation, 159). David R. Carlson takes it in a somewhat di±erent direction, noting that Chaucer “was buried in Westminster Abbey, not because he was a poet, but because he had been a successful, prominent government servant” (“Chaucer, Humanism, and Printing: Conditions of Authorship in Fifteenth-Century England,” University of Toronto Quarterly 64:2 [1995]: 274). For Joseph A. Dane the tomb is a central metaphor for the illegibility of a history approached only through what appears to be the tragically impermanent, yet nevertheless alluring medium of inscription (see Who Is Buried in Chaucer’s Tomb? 11–32). 2. In “Marriage and Politics in the Fifteenth Century: The Nevilles and the Wydevilles,” chapter 4 in Crown and Nobility, 1450–1509 ( Montreal: McGillQueen’s University Press, 1976), 104. 3. Peter J. Lucas supplies an influential definition of patronage as “a human relationship based on exchange, a relationship between a person with money and a person with a book,” in “The Growth and Development of English Literary Patronage,” The Library ser. vi, 4 (1982): 223. See also Richard Firth Green, Poets and Princepleasers: Literature and the English Court in the Late Middle Ages ( Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1980), and H. S. Bennett, “The Production and Dissemination of Vernacular Manuscripts in the Fifteenth Century,” The Library ser. v, 1 (1947): 167–78. For more recent discussions of patronage, and a strong review of the field, see Deborah McGrady, “What Is a Patron? Benefactors and Authorship in Harley 4431, Christine de Pizan’s Collected Works,” in Christine de Pizan and the Categories of Difference, ed. Marilynn Desmond ( Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1998), 195–214. See also Jennifer Summit’s remarks in “William Caxton, Margaret Beaufort and the Romance of Female Patronage,” in Smith and Taylor, Women, the Book and the Worldly, 155; and A. S. G. Edwards and Carol M. Meale, “Marketing,” where they write, “What is clear, perhaps, is that we need to allow for fluidity in our understanding

n o t e s t o p a g e s 155 – 15 6 339

Kuskin Notes

11/15/07

9:38 AM

Page 340

of the symbiotic relations which were established between printers and their ‘patrons’—to acknowledge that the benefits to be gained from any association were not necessarily always equally balanced, and that at any given time one party may have had more reason to pursue it than the other” (101). 4. Edited as The Curial: Made by Maystere Alain Charretier: Translated thus in Englyssh by William Caxton, 1484, ed. Frederick J. Furnivall, EETS 54 (1888; repr., Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1965). 5. Blake, Caxton and His World, 94. Blake, following Blades, dates the Curial at 1484; Painter and later Needham place it at 1483. 6. Caxton’s modern readers have argued that Woodville (or one of his party) is largely responsible for much of Caxton’s work. Thus Blades concludes that Woodville’s “friendship and patronage . . . was in all probability a strong inducement to [Caxton’s] adoption of a new vocation and settlement at Westminster,” in The Dictes and Sayings of the Philosophers: A Facsimile Reproduction of the First Book Printed in England by William Caxton, in 1477 (1877; repr., London: Diploma Press, 1974), vi; N. F. Blake ascribes Caxton’s printing of the Canterbury Tales to Woodville’s patronage in “Caxton and Chaucer,” Leeds Studies in English n.s. 1 (1967): 20; and Painter’s telling of Caxton’s biography is deeply committed to the story of the nobility. In “The Early History of the Malory Manuscript” Hilton Kelliher argues for a relationship between Woodville and Malory in which the Winchester manuscript of Le Morte D’Arthur passed through Woodville’s hands on its way to Caxton’s shop. Reliant almost entirely on Kelliher’s unique recreation of events, this narrative is strongly contested by Carol M. Meale, who points out that libraries other than Woodville’s may just as well have su¤ced for Malory’s research, adding, “Given the evident care with which Wydville promoted his interests both in general and in respect of his role as patron, if he had been instrumental in the composition of the Morte, it is almost inconceivable, even making due allowance for his family’s downfall, that no record of such an involvement should be traceable in either manuscript or printed copies of the text” (“Manuscripts, Readers, and Patrons in Fifteenth-Century England: Sir Thomas Malory and Arthurian Romance,” in Arthurian Literature, vol. 4, ed. Richard Barber [ Totowa, N.J.: Barnes and Noble, 1985], 112). It is important to remember that no evidence other than Caxton’s testimony in the Dictes, the Morale Prouerbes, and the Cordyal exists for Woodville’s involvement in Caxton’s a±airs. Blake actually asserts this lack of evidence as grounds for what he calls “anonymous patronage” (Caxton and His World, 94; see also his “Investigations into the Prologues and Epilogues by William Caxton” BJRL 49 [1967]: 17–46), a position he later abandons in “Lydgate and Caxton.” 7. Jennifer Summit, Lost Property, 3; see also 7 and 71. 8. Curtis Bühler, The Dicts and Sayings of the Philosophers: The Translations Made by Stephen Scrope, William Worcester and an Anonymous Translator (London: Oxford University Press, 1941), xii; Backhouse, et al., William Caxton: An Exhibition, 40.

340 n o t e s t o p a g e s 157 – 162

Kuskin Notes

11/15/07

9:38 AM

Page 341

9. M. A. Hicks points out that Elizabeth began making her own appointments for her estates within months of her marriage, “The Changing Role of the Wydevilles in Yorkist Politics to 1483,” in Patronage, Pedigree, and Power, ed. Charles Ross (Gloucester: Alan Sutton, 1979), 60–86; Lander describes her as “hard-headed in her business relations” (“Marriage and Politics,” 118). 10. Hicks, “The Changing Role,” 79. 11. For Woodville’s biography, see Hicks, “The Changing Role,” 60–86, and False, Fleeting, Perjur’d Clarence: George, Duke of Clarence, 1449–78 (Gloucester: A. Sutton, 1980). 12. For the Bodye of Polyce see Diane Bornstein, The Middle English Translation of Christine de Pisan’s Livre du Corps de Policie ( Heidelberg: Carl Winter, 1977), and “Sir Anthony Woodville as the Translator of Christine de Pisan’s Livre du corps de policie,” Fifteenth Century Studies 2 (1979): 9–20. For Harley 4431, see McGrady, “What Is a Patron?” and Sandra L. Hindman, “The Composition of the Manuscript of Christine de Pizan’s Collected Works in the British Library: A Reassessment,” British Library Journal 9 (1983): 93–123. 13. For these details, see Jennifer R. Goodman, “William Caxton and Anthony Woodville, Translators: The Case of the Dictes or Sayengis of the Philosophres,” New Comparison 12 (1991): 10, and “Malory and Caxton’s Chivalric Series”; Blake, Caxton and His World, 84–85; Painter, William Caxton, 84–91; Lander, “Marriage and Politics,” 115, 125–41, 260–64. For the overlap between Burgundian titles and Caxton’s output in general, see Diane Bornstein, “Caxton’s Chivalric Romances”; J. H. Hexter, “The Education of the Aristocracy in the Renaissance,” Journal of Modern History 22 (1950): 1–20, especially 11–15; and Anne F. Sutton and Livia Visser-Fuchs, “Choosing a Book in Late FifteenthCentury England,” in England and the Low Countries in the Late Middle Ages, ed. Caroline Barron and Nigel Saul ( New York: St. Martin’s, 1995): 61–98, who provide a list of Edward IV’s books, 84–86. 14. For these jousts, see James Gairdner, The Paston Letters, 4:279 (letter 669) and 298 ( letter 684), respectively. See also 4:275 ( letter 665). 15. Reviewed by E. W. Ives, “Andrew Dymmock and the Papers of Antony, Earl Rivers, 1482–3,” Bulletin of the Institute of Historical Research 41 (1968): 216–29. 16. See Bühler, Dicts, x, and Painter, William Caxton, 87. 17. For the Cordyal, see J. A. Mulders, The Cordyal by Anthony Woodville, Earl Rivers: Edited from M 38 A1, The Museum Meermanno Westreenianum, the Hague ( Nijmegen: Centrale Drukkerij, 1962). 18. For the following, see Hicks, False, Fleeting, Perjur’d Clarence, 141–45. 19. Hicks records this presentation as November 1, 1477, but does not provide a source (False, Fleeting, Perjur’d Clarence, 145). Painter speculates that it was a Christmas present for the king (William Caxton, 90). There is no hard and fast date for the presentation. 20. Additional 22718 was copied by Thomas Cokke, who apparently misread the regenal year for 1467 rather than 1477. Caxton printed three editions of the

n o t e s t o p a g e s 163 – 16 9 341

Kuskin Notes

11/15/07

9:38 AM

Page 342

Dictes and Sayings: 1477 (STC 6826), 1480 (STC 6828), and 1489 (STC 6829). The dating of these editions is somewhat complicated. The copy of the 1477 Dictes at the John Rylands Library in Manchester, once owned by Earl Spencer, possesses a unique colophon (STC 6827) similar to that of the Lambeth Palace manuscript: Thus endeth this book of the dyctes and notable wyse sayengs of the phylosophers late translated and drawen out of frenshe into our englisshe tonge by my forsaide lord Therle of Ryvers and lord Skales .and by hys comandement sette in forme and emprynted in this manere as ye maye here in this booke see Whiche was fynisshed the .xviij. day of the moneth of Nouembre. and the seuenteenth yere of the regene of kynge Edward the fourth. (See Blades, Facsimile, viii) This suggests that the 1477 print run had a special batch that was treated separately. Further, the 1480 edition has the date of the first edition, making the two di¤cult to distinguish. The 1489 edition returns to the 1477 edition, with a new colophon. See Curtis Bühler, “Some Observations on The Dictes and Sayings of the Philosophers,” The Library ser. v, 8 (1953): 77–88; Painter, William Caxton, 89; Blake, Caxton and His World, 219–20; and Hellinga, Caxton in Focus, 77–80. 21. Ingulph’s Chronicle of the Abbey of Croyland with the Continuations of Peter of Blois and Anonymous Writers, trans. Henry T. Riley (London: Henry G. Bohn, 1854), 470. 22. On the Caister circle, see Jennifer Summit, Lost Property, 71–81; K. B. McFarlane, “William Worcester: A Preliminary Survey,” in England in the Fifteenth Century: Collected Essays (London: Hambledon Press, 1981), 199–224, and “William Worcester and a Present of Lampreys,” in the same volume, 225–30; and Bühler, Dicts, xxvii. As a poet and clerk of the Signet, Ashby appears engaged in the same literary culture as Caxton; see Mary Bateson’s introduction to her edition, George Ashby’s Poems, EETS e.s. 76 (1899; repr., London: Oxford University Press, 1965). 23. Hicks, “The Changing Role,” 70. 24. For a brief overview of Tiptoft’s interests, see James P. Carley, “The Royal Library Under Henry VIII,” in Hellinga and Trapp, The Cambridge History of the Book, 297–99, and Weiss, Humanism in England, 112–23. 25. Painter, William Caxton, 114 n. 1. 26. See Summit, Lost Property, 81–93, and A. E. B. Coldiron, “Taking Advice from a Frenchwoman: Caxton, Pynson, and Christine de Pizan’s Moral Proverbs,” in Kuskin, Caxton’s Trace, 127–66. 27. See J. C. Laidlaw, “Christine de Pizan, the Earl of Salisbury and Henry IV,” French Studies 36 (1982): 129–43. 28. Crotch, The Prologues and Epilogues, 32. 29. Summit, Lost Property, 62. 30. Ibid., 73.

342 n o t e s t o p a g e s 172 – 175

Kuskin Notes

11/15/07

9:38 AM

Page 343

31. In The Book of Fayttes of Armes and of Chyualrye, EETS 189 (London: Oxford University Press, 1932), the editor, A. T. P. Byles, terms these two traditions the A-group and the B-group, which lacks all references to female authorship, substituting “l’aucteur” or “le disciple” for de Pizan’s name, and replacing feminine forms with masculine (xiv). These traditions also di±er somewhat regarding chapter divisions (xv). Caxton’s text comes from the A-group but has the chapter confusions of the B-group. Byles identifies BL Royal 19 B xviii as the closest to Caxton’s translation, and points out that Caxton’s epilogue only allows six weeks between his completion of the translation and the printing of the book—a surprisingly quick turnaround. Byles, following an implicit revision made by Blades (1:72), suggests the date should read 1490 (xxx). Caxton’s epilogue suggests this reading: “Whiche translacyon was finysshed the / viij / day of Iuyll the sayd yere [1489] 7 enprynted the / xiiij / day of Iuyll next folowyng 7 ful fynyshed” (S5v). This has not been picked up in the more recent chronologies of Caxton’s imprints. British Library Royal 15 E vi. was given as a present to Margaret of Anjou by her escort to her marriage to Henry VI, John Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury, in 1445. Byles dates this manuscript before 1447. This manuscript features a presentation scene depicting Shrewsbury’s presentation of the manuscript to Margaret and Henry VI. Blades argues that Caxton had access to this manuscript, and suggests it is “not improbable” that it was his copytext (2:206), and Byles concurs, but points out that as Caxton has anti-English material lacking in Royal 15 E vi., he must have used another manuscript as well. More generally, for de Pizan’s Le livre des faits d’armes see Charity Cannon Willard, “Christine de Pizan on the Art of Warfare,” in Christine de Pizan and the Categories of Difference, ed. Desmond, 3–15, and her “Pilfering Vegetius? Christine de Pizan’s Faits d’Armes et de Chevalerie,” in Smith and Taylor, Woman, the Book and the Worldly, 31–37. For Christine de Pizan’s rhetorical shaping of her role as an author, see Liliane Dulac, “Authority in the Prose Treatises of Christine de Pizan: The Writer’s Discourse and the Prince’s Word,” in Politics, Gender, and Genre: The Political Thought of Christine de Pizan, ed. Margaret Brabant (Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 1992), 129–40; Earl Je±rey Richards, “Christine de Pizan, the Conventions of Courtly Diction, and Italian Humanism,” in Reinterpreting Christine de Pizan, ed. Earl Je±rey Richards (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1992), 250–71; and Helen Solterer, The Master and Minerva: Disputing Women in French Medieval Culture (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995), particularly chapter 6, “Christine’s Way: The Querelle du Roman de la rose and the Ethics of a Political Response,” 151–75. For the relationship between this rhetoric and book construction, see Joël Blanchard, “Compilation and Legitimation in the Fifteenth Century: Le Livre de la Cité des Dames,” in Reinterpreting Christine de Pizan, ed. Richards, 228–49; Cynthia J. Brown, “The Reconstruction of an Author in Print: Christine de Pizan in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries,” in Christine de Pizan and the Categories of Difference, ed. Desmond, 215–35, who discusses the waning of de Pizan’s identity as an author in English prints in the sixteenth century; and A. E. B. Coldiron, “Taking Advice from a Frenchwoman.” See also Angus J.

n o t e s t o p a g e 175 343

Kuskin Notes

11/15/07

9:38 AM

Page 344

Kennedy’s useful review of the literature, “A Selective Bibliography of Christine de Pizan Scholarship, circa 1980–1987,” in Reinterpreting Christine de Pizan, ed. Richards, 285–98. 32. For women patrons and bookowners, see Summit, Lost Property; Susan Groag Bell, “Medieval Women Book Owners: Arbiters of Lay Piety and Ambassadors of Culture,” Signs 7 (1982): 742–68; Joan Ferrante, “Whose Voice? The Influence of Women Patrons on Courtly Romances,” in Literary Aspects of Courtly Culture: Selected Papers from the Seventh Triennial Congress of the International Courtly Literature Society, ed. Donald Maddox and Sara Sturm-Maddox ( Woodbridge, Su±olk: D. S. Brewer, 1994), 3–18; Lotte Hellinga, “Importation of Books Printed on the Continent,” 218; and the essays in Women and Literature in Britain, 1150–1500, ed. Carol M. Meale (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993), especially, Meale, “‘. . . alle the bokes that I haue of latyn, englisch, and frensch’: Laywomen and Their Books in Late Medieval England,” 128–58, and Julia Bo±ey, “Women Authors and Women’s Literacy in Fourteenth- and FifteenthCentury England,” in the same volume, 159–82; as well as the essays in Smith and Taylor, Women, the Book and the Worldly, especially Summit, “William Caxton, Margaret Beaufort and the Romance of Female Patronage.” 33. Byles, 1:v; 1:xxiii. Willard argues de Pizan also drew from John of Legnano’s Tractatus de bello, in “Pilfering,” 35. 34. “The Investment of Sir John Fastolf’s Profits of War,” in England in the Fifteenth Century, 184; see also McFarlane, “War, the Economy and Social Change: England and the Hundred Years War,” in England in the Fifteenth Century, 139–49; and C. A. J. Armstrong, “Sir John Fastolf and the Law of Arms,” in England, France and Burgundy in the Fifteenth Century, ed. C. A. J. Armstrong (London: Hambledon, 1983), 123–33. More generally, see M. M. Postan, “The Fifteenth Century,” Economic History Review 9 (1938–39): 165; and M. M. Postan, “Some Social Consequences of the Hundred Years’ War,” Economic History Review 12 (1942): 1–12. 35. McFarlane, “The Investment of Sir John Fastolf’s Profits of War,” 184. 36. On the emerging class of literate clerks, particularly the rise of the gentleman bureaucrat, see Summit, Lost Property, 67–71; R. L. Storey, “GentlemanBureaucrats,” in Profession, Vocation, and Culture in Later Medieval England: Essays Dedicated to the Memory of A. R. Myers, ed. Cecil H. Clough (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 1982), 90–129; McFarlane, “William Worcester: A Preliminary Survey,” 202; Anne Middleton, “The Idea of Public Poetry in the Reign of Richard II,” Speculum 53 (1978): 94–114, and “Chaucer’s ‘New Men’ and the Good Literature in the Canterbury Tales,” in Literature and Society: Selected Papers from the English Institute, 1978, ed. Edward W. Said (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1980), 15–56. 37. Hicks, False, Fleeting, Perjur’d Clarence, 60. John Fortescue objected to the Yorkist inheritance through the female line; see M. H. Keen, England in the Later Middle Ages, 462.

344 n o t e s t o p a g e s 17 6 – 18 0

Kuskin Notes

11/15/07

9:38 AM

Page 345

38. Susan Powell, “Lady Margaret Beaufort and Her Books,” The Library ser. vi, 20 (1998): 196. For Margaret’s independent authority, her patronage of the University of Cambridge, and her licensed retinue, see Michael K. Jones and Malcolm G. Underwood, The King’s Mother: Lady Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Richmond and Derby (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), and two articles by Malcolm G. Underwood, “The Lady Margaret and Her Cambridge Connections,” Sixteenth Century Journal 13 (1982): 67–81, and “Politics and Piety in the Household of Lady Margaret Beaufort,” Journal of Ecclesiastical History 38 (1987): 39–52. For an important narrowing of Lady Margaret’s influence, as well as a useful biography, see Retha M. Warnicke, “The Lady Margaret, Countess of Richmond: A Noblewoman of Independent Wealth and Status,” FifteenthCentury Studies 9 (1984): 215–48; for her relationship to Caxton see M. J. C. Lowry, “Caxton, St. Winifred and the Lady Margaret Beaufort,” The Library ser. vi, 5 (1983): 101–17; Rebecca Krug, Reading Families: Women’s Literate Practice in Late Medieval England ( Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2002), particularly chapter 2, “Margaret Beaufort’s Literate Practice: Service and Self-Inscription,” 65–113, especially 151–52; Summit, “William Caxton, Margaret Beaufort”; and A. S. G. Edwards and Carol M. Meale, “Marketing,” 100–115. Also useful are David Baldwin, Elizabeth Woodville: Mother of the Princes in the Tower (Gloucestershire: Sutton, 2002), 11–12; and C. A. J. Armstrong, “The Piety of Cicely, Duchess of York: A Study in Late Mediaeval Culture,” in England, France and Burgundy in the Fifteenth Century, 135–56. 39. The English Works of John Fisher, ed. J. E. B. Mayor, EETS e.s. 27 (London: N. Trübner, 1876), 292 40. Powell, “Lady Margaret Beaufort and Her Books,” 234. 41. Crotch, Prologues and Epilogues, 105. 42. Powell, “Lady Margaret Beaufort and Her Books,” 233–34. 43. Ibid., 223 nn. 168, 167, and 170 respectively. The bracketed glosses are Powell’s. 44. STC lists these as one publication, printed in 1504; however, the first three books are printed in continuous register, and end with the following colophon: ¶ Here endeth the thyrde boke of John Gerson : Emprynted in London by Rycharde Pynson . in fletestrete at the Synge of the George . at the commaundement and instaunce of the ryght noble & excellent Prynces Margarete moder to our souerain lorde kynge Henry the .vii. and Countesse of Rychmount and Derby . The yere of our lorde .M.V.iii. The .xxvii. day of June. (Q3v ) This is followed by a blank sheet on the verso side of which appears Pynson’s mark, and then Margaret’s portcullis. On the next page begins the following rubric, elaborately set with woodcuts of the Tudor shield and Margaret’s portcullis:

n o t e s t o p a g e s 181 – 182 345

Kuskin Notes

11/15/07

9:38 AM

Page 346

¶ Here beginethe the forthe boke of the folowinge Jesu cryst & of the contempnige of the world. Inprynted at the commaundement of the most excellent prynces Margarete:moder unto our souereyne lorde:kinge Henry the vii. Countes of Richemount and Darby And by the same Prynces it was translated oute of frenche into Englisshe in fourme and maner ensuinge . Theyere of our lord god M.D.iiii. (p1v) The visual apparatus ( lacking for the first three books), the dates, the new register, conspire to suggest that Margaret’s fourth book constitutes a separate publication associated with Atkinson’s after printing. 45. Martha W. Driver argues, “The Bridgettines were active not only in promoting vernacular translations, but in selecting, commissioning, and, to some extent, designing books thought appropriate to be read not only by themselves, but by a lay audience outside the walls of Syon” (“Nuns as Patrons, Artists, Readers: Bridgettine Woodcuts in Printed Books Produced for the English Market,” in Art into Life: Collected Papers from the Kresge Art Museum Medieval Symposia, ed. Carol Garrett Fisher [East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 1995], 239). De Worde, Pynson, and Richard Fawkes printed books for the members of the Syon community, and Driver connects Syon specifically to Caxton’s shop: Further evidence suggests that the woodcut of Saint Bridget writing at her desk and its copies issued from a single workshop, a workshop connected with William Caxton and Wynkyn de Worde and closely tied to Syon. One work without direct textual reference to Syon but with the Bridget woodcut is the Dyetary of Ghostly Helthe. Like many of the books with prefaces by Syon monks, the Dyetary is directed to “my good sisters” and describes various activities, such as reading aloud at meals, which were practiced by Bridgettines. From these internal clues one might deduce that this book, too, was a product of Syon. More striking still are the patterns of picture use in various editions of the Dyetary. (250) For a useful overview of the history of the abbey in general, and its particular connection with the Carthusian house at Seen, see Ann M. Hutchison, “Devotional Reading in the Monastery and in the Late Medieval Household,” in De Cella in Seculum: Religious and Secular Life and Devotion in Late Medieval England, ed. Michael G. Sargent (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 1989), 215–27; for discussion of Syon’s books and book production, see also Mary C. Erler, “Syon Abbey’s Care for Books: Its Sacristan’s Account Rolls 1506/7–1535/6,” Scriptorium 39 (1985): 293–307; for the role of the Carthusians in the production of English mystical manuscripts, see Michael G. Sargent, “The Transmission by the English Carthusians of Some Late Medieval Spiritual Writings,” Journal of Ecclesiastical History 27 (1976): 225–40; finally, see Krug, Reading Families, chapter 4, “Reading at Syon,” 153–206. 46. See Nicholas Watson’s definition of the term vernacular theology, in “Censorship,” 823 n. 4; see also two important essays in The Medieval Mystical Tra-

346 n o t e s t o p a g e s 182 – 183

Kuskin Notes

11/15/07

9:38 AM

Page 347

dition in England: Exeter Symposium IV: Papers Read at Dartington Hall, July 1987, ed. Marion Glasscoe (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 1987): George R. Keiser, “The Mystics and the Early English Printers: The Economics of Devotionalism,” 9–26, and Sue Ellen Holbrook, “Margery Kempe and Wynkyn de Worde,” 27–46. 47. See Painter, “Caxton Through the Looking Glass,” Gutenberg Jahrbuch (1963): 73–80, and William Caxton, 184–86; Powell, “Lady Margaret Beaufort and Her Books,” 209; and Mary C. Erler, “Devotional Literature,” 506, respectively. 48. See David Rogers, “Johann Hamman at Venice: A Survey of His Career. With a Note on the Sarum ‘Horae’ of 1494,” in Essays in Honour of Victor Scholderer, ed. Dennis E. Rhodes ( Mainz: Karl Pressler, 1970), 349–68. 49. Erler, “Devotional Literature,” 515. Martha W. Driver also comments on the volume of vernacular religious printed material intelligently in “Pictures in Print: Late Fifteenth- and Early Sixteenth-Century English Religious Books for Lay Readers,” in De Cella in Seculum, ed. Sargent, 229–44. 50. Cited in Powell, “Lady Margaret Beaufort and Her Books,” 201 n. 16. 51. Erler, “Devotional Literature,” 498. 52. The Dialogue Between a Lord and a Clerk appears in five of the fourteen manuscripts of the Polychronicon; see Emily Steiner, “Radical Historiography: Langland, Trevisa, and the Polychronicon,” Studies in the Age of Chaucer 27 (2005): 171–211, especially 182–83 for a review of the available criticism on this passage. See also Alastair Minnis’s comments on the passage in this same issue, “‘I speke of folk in seculer estaat’: Vernacularity and Secularity in the Age of Chaucer,” 30–31. 53. See, specifically, Underwood, “The Lady Margaret and Her Cambridge Connections,” and “Politics and Piety in the Household of Lady Margaret Beaufort,” as well as Warnicke, “The Lady Margaret, Countess of Richmond,” 233. 54. Edwards and Meale, “Marketing,” 101. Lady Margaret was also alive to the importance of devices, and upon Henry’s ascension changed her own signature from “M. Richmond” to “Margaret R.,” echoing his “Henry R.,” for Henrici Rex. She also changed her seal (see STC 18566, 19305). 55. Chartier was the court secretary for Charles VII. The Belle dame, circulated in 1424, inspired debate within this court, which Chartier answered with his Excusacioun aus dames, after Jean de Meun, and which, in turn, occasioned La response des dames faicte a maistre Alain, authored by “Jeanne, Katherine, and Marie,” and was carried on by at least five more texts. See Solterer, The Master and Minerva, 177–78. 56. “William Caxton and Anthony Woodville, Translators,” 17. 57. A list of Alice’s books, documented in the Ewelme Muniments, Bodleian Library VII.A.47, are reproduced by Henry Alford Napier, as “the Letters from Alice,” undated, as item 6.i., in Historical Notices of the Parishes of Swyncombe and Ewelme in the County of Oxford (Oxford: James Wright, 1858), 127–28; see also Jansen, Suffolk Poems, 17 n. 12; and Meale, “Reading Women’s Culture,” 84, and “alle the books that I haue,” 134.

n o t e s t o p a g e s 183 – 18 9 347

Kuskin Notes

11/15/07

9:38 AM

Page 348

Chapter Five. Caxton’s Worthies Series 1. Diane Bornstein argues that Caxton’s selection of texts almost completely follows “the practice of writers at the Court of Burgundy” (“Caxton’s Chivalric Romances,” 9); Derek Pearsall discusses the English romances as “pure transplantation” (“The English Romance in the Fifteenth Century,” 79); Elizabeth Kirk labels him “a fundamentally non-innovative thinker” (“‘Clerkes, Poetes, and Historiographs’: The Morte Darthur and Caxton’s ‘Poetics’ of Fiction,” in Studies in Malory, 291); William Kretzschmar sees in him the “straightforward and conservative view” of his times (“Caxton’s Sense of History,” JEGP 91:4 [1992]: 528); R. F. Yeager cautiously finds in him a sober literary view, one “representative of his age” and reflecting “a serious, if bourgeois, literary theory” (“Literary Theory at the Close of the Middle Ages,” 146–47); and Werner Hüllen writes that “Caxton’s historical role seems to lie in the fact that he printed the right text at the right time” (“A Close Reading of William Caxton’s Dialogues: ‘. . . to lerne Shortly frenssh and englyssh,’” in Historical Pragmatics: Pragmatic Developments in the History of English, ed. Andreas H. Jucker [ Philadelphia: John Benjamins, 1995], 114). Within this view, any originality on Caxton’s part is usually presented as an o±shoot of his good—if precapitalist—business sense: Russell Rutter suggests, “Caxton should be recognized as a pioneer in the massmarketing of books just as in the past he has been recognized as the pioneer of English printing itself” (“William Caxton and Literary Patronage,” 470), and Marilynn Desmond argues that his tolerance of multiplicity in literature “demonstrates his mercantile assumptions” (Reading Dido, 176). 2. Traditionally Caxton studies have moved past these problematic questions simply by taking their resolution as a given. As Barbara Belyea points out in “Caxton’s Reading Public,” English Language Notes 19 (1981): 14–19, the dearth of evidence regarding Caxton’s print runs and his finances has meant that the precise nature of his audience has remained “conjectural,” but nevertheless she finds Caxton “loyal” to traditional values, unable to “anticipate the intellectual and social changes . . . which his introduction of the printing press” would cause, and generally addressing the bourgeoisie (19). The main dissenter to these assumptions is, of course, George D. Painter in William Caxton, who argues that Caxton was so involved with the nobility as to transmit coded messages to them through his prologues, epilogues, and selection of texts. Painter aside, Belyea is typical in selecting the bourgeoisie as Caxton’s audience. The experiences of this bourgeoisie are rarely looked into in any depth. For example, in perhaps the most considered investigation of the bourgeoisie’s move into Arthurian literature, David Carlson sets the birth of Arthur Tudor in 1486 as the significant break point in the appeal of the Arthurian legend to the nobility: The Arthur myth was viable propaganda for the urban middle class, but not for an aristocracy jealous of its prerogatives and perhaps vaguely resentful of bourgeois usurpations in general, nor for an educated élite, increasingly hu-

348 n o t e s t o p a g e 193

Kuskin Notes

11/15/07

9:38 AM

Page 349

manist in its orientation and increasingly skeptical about King Arthur. (“King Arthur and Court Poems,” 165) Published some thirteen months before Arthur Tudor’s birth and accompanied by its skeptical prologue, Caxton’s Le Morte D’Arthur seems to exemplify Carlson’s paradigm for change; indeed, Carlson briefly cites it as such. In imagining the bourgeoisie as usurping, but still in some way satisfied by a literature the nobility was rapidly coming to see as empty, this line of thinking fails to account for these middle classes’ desires beyond an implied notion of cultural capital. In fact, the very identity of these classes remains poorly understood, and it is a case in point that the definitive treatment of their experience, Sylvia Thrupp’s The Merchant Class of Medieval London, argues for the di¤culties any middle group had in reproducing itself (299). Far from speaking their desire to usurp with a single voice, it appears that these middle classes had trouble articulating any voice at all. If members of this group embraced Caxton, they embraced him not as a matter of course, but because he provided them with such a voice. 3. Stephen Knight’s “The Social Function of the Middle English Romances,” in Medieval Literature, ed. David Aers ( New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1986), 99–122, stands as perhaps the first attempt to read Le Morte D’Arthur in terms of ideology. While Knight deserves praise for raising the issue, his model of medieval society as a hierarchy (103), forces him to theorize romance as a static exploration of ideal values (118) instead of the dynamic engagement with the material conditions of existence that the Marxist apparatus implies. 4. Though relatively unremarked upon by Caxton’s early historians, a significant body of work has begun to examine the Worthies Series. It is commented upon by Blake in Caxton and His World, 110; Painter acknowledges it in William Caxton (148); Russell Rutter mentions it in “Literary Patronage” (464–65); and Jennifer R. Goodman has discussed it in two full-length studies: “Malory and Caxton’s Chivalric Series,” and Malory and William Caxton’s Prose Romances of 1485. 5. For the relationship between print jobbing and literary production, see David R. Carlson, “A Theory of the Early English Printing Firm,” in Caxton’s Trace. 6. My understanding of the term ideology comes largely from Louis Althusser’s essay “Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses.” Althusser elaborates this term usefully in For Marx, trans. Ben Brewster (1965; repr., London: Verso, 1993); see especially 231–36. I have also benefited from a number of readings, particularly, Slavoj Z˚ iz˚ek, The Sublime Object of Ideology (1989; repr., London: Verso, 1992), particularly 21, 43–49, and Fredric Jameson, The Political Unconscious: Narrative as a Socially Symbolic Act ( Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1981), 219–42. 7. See my discussion of the fifteenth-century print market in “Onely imagined,” in Caxton’s Trace. For a brief account see Blake’s “The Spread of Printing.” 8. Imagined Communities, 41. See also my critique of Anderson in “Onely imagined,” 222.

n o t e s t o p a g e s 193 – 195 349

Kuskin Notes

11/15/07

9:38 AM

Page 350

9. See Caxton’s Malory: A New Edition of Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte Darthur Based on the Pierpont Morgan Copy of William Caxton’s Edition of 1485, 2 vols., ed. James W. Spisak and William Matthews (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983). 10. R. L. Græme Ritchie provides the text of Les Voeux du Paon in his edition of The Buik of Alexander, Scottish Text Society 2nd ser., 25 (London: W. Blackwood and Sons, 1929). His earlier volume (STS 2nd ser., 17, 1925) includes extensive commentary on the text and on the Nine Worthies. 11. “The English Romance in the Fifteenth Century,” 78. 12. The reading of the Nine Worthies as a negative exemplum begins with their first major collation and continues to their most recent treatments. In his edition of the Parlement of the Thre Ages, Select Early English Poems 3 (London: H. Milford, 1915), Israel Gollancz presents an appendix of eighteen examples of the Nine Worthies. He forwards the edition with the definition of tragedy taken from the Monk’s Tale, implying it su¤ces for their exemplary meaning. Similarly, in his reading of the alliterative Morte Arthure, Lee Patterson argues that the Worthies represent history as based in the fall as a prototype that it repeats without hope of correction, in Negotiating the Past ( Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1987), 197–230. Frank Grady finds a similar structure operating in Gower’s “In Praise of Peace,” in “The Lancastrian Gower and the Limits of Exemplarity,” Speculum 70 (1995): 566–67. 13. See F. J. Furnivall’s “The Nine Worthies and the Heraldic Arms They Bore,” Notes and Queries ser. 7 (1889): 22–23. 14. For the Worthies in the visual arts, see the following: Gollancz presents the text of a number of woodcuts and a mumming in his edition of the Parlement of the Thre Ages; R. S. Loomis’s “Verses on the Nine Worthies,” Modern Philology 15 (1917): 22, adds to this list more woodcuts and the Coventry pageant; R. S. Loomis and Laura Hibbard Loomis’s Arthurian Legends in Medieval Art (London: Oxford University Press, 1938) presents the definitive study of Arthurian material in art which includes a number of examples of the Worthies; Anne McMillan reprints tapestries in her discussion of the Nine Female Worthies in “Men’s Weapons, Women’s War: The Nine Female Worthies, 1400–1640,” Mediaevalia 5 (1979): 113–39; F. W. Reader’s “Tudor Mural Paintings in the Lesser Houses in Bucks,” Archaeological Journal 89 (1932): 116–73, shows some domestic murals; Ritchie (Buik [1925], xlii n. 3) tells that from 1480 on the male and female Worthies began to appear on playing cards; James J. Rorimer and Margaret B. Freeman discuss the most famous Nine Worthies tapestry in The Cloisters: The Building and the Collection of Medieval Art in Fort Tryon ( New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1963). 15. For example: the “Ballet of the Nine Nobles” adds Robert Bruce to the list (see Ritchie, 1925); Bertrand du Guesclin makes a tenth Worthy in the statues at Coucy (see Loomis’s “Verses on the Nine Worthies”); Gower shortens the Worthies to six knights in his Mirour de l’Omme; Caxton himself proposes a tenth

350 n o t e s t o p a g e s 19 6 – 19 8

Kuskin Notes

11/15/07

9:38 AM

Page 351

Worthy in the prologue to Godfrey. Though rarely commented upon, a parallel tradition of Nine Female Worthies exists from Deschamps through Thomas Heywood’s 1640 Nine of the Most Worthy Women of the World (see McMillan’s “Men’s Weapons”). That the Worthies’ structure can be doubled over for female as well as male heroes is precisely the sort of situational flexibility I see in the trope in general. 16. “A Poem on the Nine Worthies,” Nottingham Medieval Studies 27 (1983): 79; “Verses on the Nine Worthies,” 27. 17. In The Coventry Leet Book: or Mayor’s Register, containing the Records of the City Court Leet or View of Frankpledge, A.D. 1420–1555, with Divers Other Matters, ed. Mary Dormer Harris, EETS o.s. 134 (London: Kegan Paul, 1908), 285–92. The various speeches are also presented in appendix 3 of H. Craig’s Two Coventry Corpus Christi Plays, EETS e.s. 87, 2nd ed. (London: Oxford University Press, 1952), 109–14. A similar pageant including the Nine Worthies was held in Dublin from 1498 to 1569; see Alexandra F. Johnston, “Traders and Playmakers: English Guildsmen and the Low Countries,” in England and the Low Countries in the Late Middle Ages, ed. Caroline Barron and Nigel Saul ( New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1995), 99–114. 18. See Mervyn James’s “Ritual Drama and the Social Body in the Late Medieval English Town,” Past and Present 98 (1983): 9. 19. Past and Present 138 (1993): 32–34. 20. Edited by John Bruce and recently represented in Three Chronicles of the Reign of Edward IV (Gloucester: Alan Sutton, 1988), 149. For a discussion of the relationship between versions of the Arrivall, see J. A. F. Thompson’s “‘The Arrival of Edward IV’—The Development of the Text,” Speculum 46 (1971): 84–93. 21. In “The Formation of the English Gentry,” 57. This plane seems to have expanded during the fifteenth century so that, as Christine Carpenter argues, “the gentry may well have come to believe in the mid- to late 1450s that they were better o± without the nobility” (Locality and Polity: A Study of Warwickshire Landed Society, 1401–1499 [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992], 479). Coss points out that the nobility responded to this shift with even greater levels of patronage, creating a competition between royal and magnate patronage: “Personal control over local o¤cials and law o¤cers, the quest for royal patronage to secure that control, retaining and maintenance, private arbitration and the a¤nity, all stemmed from a single impulse—that which sought the survival of magnate power” (“Bastard Feudalism Revised,” 54). See also the discussion of Coss’s article by David Crouch and D. A. Carpenter, and his reply in Past and Present 131 (1991): 164–203. 22. Chaucer uses the term in four separate texts: The Squire’s Tale, The Manciple’s Tale, The Legend of Good Women, and Anelida and Arcite. His most elaborate usage appears in The Squire’s Tale where the lovelorn Falcon applies it to her beloved Tercelet’s desertion. For the Falcon, newfangledness is a fundamental

n o t e s t o p a g e s 19 9 – 20 4 351

Kuskin Notes

11/15/07

9:38 AM

Page 352

character trait that drives both bird and man toward novelty. In the other texts, Chaucer uses the term in a similar vein: in the prologue to The Legend of Good Women the chorus of birds denounces the Tydif for acting “for newfangelnesse,” and in The Manciple’s Tale the Manciple uses it to cap o± the list of untrue birds, cats, and wolves with the moral that men’s “flessh is so newefangel, with meschaunce / That we ne konne in nothyng han plesaunce / That sowneth into vertu any while” (The Riverside Chaucer, 284:193–95). Gower uses the term in book 5 of Confessio Amantis as a gloss for lovers who would abandon true love, and Lydgate uses it in Temple of Glas when he depicts Venus marrying the two lovers and instructing them to be faithful and avoid newfangledness, and the word appears, as we have seen, in Caxton’s translation of Alain Chartier’s Curial (STC 5057). Though the various texts’ genres run the gamut from beast fable to complaint the word suggests sexual roving to the point of historical failure, a trait of human nature that leads to the turning away from truth and a descent into historical incoherence. See also the anonymous poetry of the Devonshire and Findern manuscripts, presented in Kenneth Muir’s “Unpublished Poems in the Devonshire MS,” Proceedings of the Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society 6 (1947): 253–82, especially 273; and Rossell Hope Robbins’s “The Findern Anthology,” PMLA 69 (1954): 610–42. The sexual sense of newfangledness continues well into the sixteenth century where it appears most famously in Wyatt’s “They Flee from Me,” and in Spenser’s description of Lechery in the procession of the seven deadly sins in book 1 of The Faerie Queene (4.25). 23. In “‘Thirled with the Poynt of Remembraunce’: The Theban Writing of Anelida and Arcite,” in Chaucer and the Subject of History ( Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1991), 74. 24. See Godeffroy of Boloyne or The Siege and Conqueste of Jerusalem Translated by William Caxton, ed. Mary Noyes Colvin, EETS e.s. 64 (1893; repr., Millwood, N.Y.: Kraus Reprints, 1973). 25. The Interlinear NRSV-NIV Parallel New Testament in Greek and English, ed. Alfred Marshall (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1993). Romans 15:4 is one of the medieval canon’s most significant texts on allegoresis, and in the fourteenth century it becomes an important rhetorical tool for the lay appropriation of scriptural authority. For Paul’s general influence on medieval theories of authorship see A. J. Minnis’s Medieval Theory of Authorship, 59–63. For the definitive reading of the appropriative force of Romans 15:4, see Larry Scanlon’s “The Authority of Fable: Allegory and Irony in the Nun’s Priest’s Tale,” Exemplaria 1 (1989): 43–51. Caxton was exposed to Romans 15:4 in a number of vernacular texts, including Chaucer’s Nun’s Priest’s Tale and Retraction and Trevisa’s translation of Higden’s original prologue to the Polychronicon. In addition to Le Morte D’Arthur and Charles the Grete, he uses it in his Recuyell, his revised prologue to the 1482 Game and Play of the Chess, and his 1480 Methamorphose. That Caxton applies Romans to four of his prologues between 1480 and 1485 demonstrates his specific interest in it during this period. That he uses it in the Recuyell, his first English text, suggests

352 n o t e s t o p a g e s 205 – 20 8

Kuskin Notes

11/15/07

9:38 AM

Page 353

it underwrites his thinking on vernacular reading from the start. William A. Kretzschmar, Jr., explores Caxton’s use of Paul in “Caxton’s Sense of History,” 510–28; I disagree with his assumption that Caxton imported his thinking on Romans 15:4 from the Polychronicon. Caxton’s own prologue to the Polychronicon stresses the allegorical nature of history rather than Higden’s interpretation of Paul, and, as Samuel K. Workman points out in “Versions by Skelton, Caxton and Berners of a Prologue by Diodorus Siculus,” 252–58, actually replaces much of Higden with Diodorus Siculus. Further, Caxton clearly encountered Romans 15:4 in the French Charles the Grete, which—in contrast to Higden’s commentary on Paul—he did incorporate into his own text. 26. In S. J. H. Herrtage’s The English Charlemagne Romances, Part I: Sir Ferumbras (1879; repr., London: Oxford University Press, 1966). Caxton’s prologue to Charles the Grete is unique for the way he silently adopts the first-person voice of “Saint Pol docteur de verite,” making it seem as if the text’s original patron was his own: “For oftymes I haue ben excyted of the venerable man messire henry bolomyer chanonne of lausanne for to reduce for his playsyr somme hystoryes” (a.ii). In his epilogue, Caxton names a contemporary bureaucrat as providing him with the text: “I Wylliam Caxton was desyred & requyred by a good and synguler frende of myn / Maister wylliam daubeny one of the tresorers of the Iewellys of the noble & moost crysten kyng / our naturel and souerayn lord late of noble memorye kyng Edward the fourth on whos soule Ihesu haue mercy To reduce al these sayd hystoryes in to our Englysshe tongue” (m7v). In addition to being a clerk of the Jewels, Daubeney was also searcher for the Port of London under Edward IV, a position that granted him half of all confiscated imports. Richard maintained Daubeney’s appointments and added to them commissioner general in the o¤ce of the Admiralty, and, apparently, the title of knight. In 1485—the year of Caxton’s epilogue—an order under the Privy Seal of Henry VII reveals Daubeney stripped of his o¤ces for his involvement in pawning the royal jewels to the mayor and alderman of London for “the said late pretesed king,” Richard. Painter records that Daubeney was executed in 1495 with a group of Perkin Warbeck supporters (William Caxton, 149). Daubeney was a gentleman bureaucrat moving into the noble class but was pinned by his allegiances to a suddenly displaced power; his career is defined by the politics of participation and appropriation. Claiming dual inspiration from his larger Worthies Series and this patron, Caxton positions Charles the Grete, like Le Morte D’Arthur, in terms of structure and spontaneity. We can see this on a larger scale at the tail end of the epilogue when Caxton gives the text’s date: the whyche werke was fynysshed in the reducyng of hit in to englysshe the xviij day of Iuyn the second yere of kyng Rychard the third / And the yere of our lord M CCCC lxxxv / And enprynted the fyrst day of decembre the same yere of our lord & the fyrst yere of kyng Harry the seuenth. (iii.7v)

n o t e s t o p a g e 20 8 353

Kuskin Notes

11/15/07

9:38 AM

Page 354

Thus Caxton registers the transference of power that controls Daubeney’s career, and that colors the political infighting of the Wars of the Roses in his regnal dating. See Herrtage’s introduction to The English Charlemagne Romances, Part III: The Lyf of the Noble and Crysten Prince, Charles the Grete, Translated from the French by William Caxton and Printed by Him in 1485, 2 vols., EETS e.s. 36 & 37 (London: Trübner, 1880–81), viii–xii. 27. See Blake’s Prose, 152. Blake notes that Caxton drew his prologue from a French source, but fails to mention that Caxton makes “Thenvoye” available as well (152). Blake’s discussion of this passage is further troubled by his assertion that Caxton’s source for this text is Garbin’s 1483 edition of Fierabras, a point Painter cautions is entirely hypothetical, a misreading of Sidney J. H. Herrtage’s notes to the EETS edition. See Painter, William Caxton, 148 n. 1. 28. See Scanlon, “The Authority of Fable,” 46–47. 29. Although Caxton is careful to present the Worthies as located in textual sources in both Godfrey and Le Morte D’Arthur, he does not mention a textual precedent for Alexander, odd because, of course, Alexander has a long textual history in the Middle Ages. See for example William Matthews’s The Tragedy of Arthur: A Study of the Alliterative Morte Arthure (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1960). 30. See P. J. C. Field, The Life and Times of Sir Thomas Malory (Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 1993), and Christine Carpenter, “Sir Thomas Malory and FifteenthCentury Local Politics,” Bulletin of the Institute of Historical Research 53 (1980): 31–43. 31. Caxton translates a similar passage as “Thenuoye of thauctour” at the end of his text. The envoy contains this pairing as well, albeit with less tension: “For the comune vnderstondyng is more contente to reteyne parables and examples for the ymagynacion locall / than to symple auctoryte / the whyche is reteyned by vnderstondyng / and also semblably thystoryes spekyng of our lord Ihesu cryst of hys myracles / & of his vertuous subgettes / euery man ougt gladly to here and retenne them” (m7). 32. In “Manuscripts, Readers, and Patrons in Fifteenth-Century England: Sir Thomas Malory and Arthurian Romance,” in Arthurian Literature, vol. 4, ed. Richard Barber ( Totowa, N.J.: Barnes and Noble, 1985), Carol Meale concludes, Whoever bought the Additional MS [the Winchester Malory] must have had at least a moderate income, but its quality suggests that the purchaser is unlikely to have come from the nobility because, even leaving out of consideration the sumptuous painted books which Edward IV and his close associates obtained from Flemish workshops, the quality of the books commissioned and owned by the nobility at this time is very di±erent from that of the Malory MS (116). 33. “Manuscripts, Readers, and Patrons,” 116.

354 n o t e s t o p a g e s 20 8 – 213

Kuskin Notes

11/15/07

9:38 AM

Page 355

34. The actual edition Caxton used was owned by Seigneur de la Gruythusye, who received Edward IV during his exile in 1470. See Colvin’s introduction to the text (ix). 35. For Edward’s hesitancy, see Painter, William Caxton, 115 n. 2; see also 105 and 114. 36. Paul Needham, The Printer and the Pardoner, 28–33. Further, Needham reports that records from the Hospital at Rounceval, Charing Cross, during the 1520s show Wynkyn de Worde and Robert Copland doing steady business in indulgences and religious jobbing: Which is to say that Wynkyn (“Wylkyns”) was paid 16 pence for printing 200 briefs, or indulgence bills, at the rate of 8 pence per 100; and that another halfpenny was laid out for the paste and putting them up on the doors of London’s churches at the feast of the Visitation, 2 July. Later in the summer of 1521 Wynkyn was paid at the same rate to print 300 more such bills, and another halfpenny’s worth of paste was spent for placarding them at Assumptiontide, 15 August, and the same again at the Nativity of Our Lady, 8 September. In the accounts for 1523–24, Robert Copland was paid a sum of 7 shillings 6 pence for printing 500 letters of indulgence, a rate of 18 pence per 100 forms. (44–45) 37. Carlson, “A Theory of the Early English Printing Firm,” in Kuskin, Caxton’s Trace, 45. 38. This debate is excellently reviewed in The Malory Debate: Essays on the Texts of Le Morte Darthur, ed. Bonnie Wheeler, Robert L. Kindrick, and Michael N. Salda (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 2000). Perhaps the most useful comparison of the Winchester and Caxton texts is Sally Shaw’s “Caxton and Malory,” in Essays on Malory, ed. J. A. W. Bennett (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1963), 114–45. The issue is further complicated by Lotte Hellinga’s discovery of printer’s ink, traces of Caxton’s Types 2 and 4, and a piece of printer’s waste used to repair one of the pages in the Winchester manuscript, suggesting that Caxton had the manuscript in his shop during his printing of Le Morte D’Arthur and kept it until at least 1489 (announced in “The Malory Manuscript” with Hilton Kelliher in The British Library Journal 3 [1977]: 91–113, and later presented in by Kelliher in “The Early History of Malory Manuscript,” by Hellinga in Caxton in Focus, 89–94. Overtly, this discovery would seem to pinpoint the Winchester manuscript as Caxton’s source; however, lacking the compositor’s casting-o± marks ( by which the compositor marks o± line breaks on the manuscript he intends to print from), the manuscript could only have supplemented some additional version. 39. See Shaw’s “Caxton and Malory” and Blake’s Caxton and His World. Blake argues, “Arthur’s war comes to resemble Charlemagne’s crusade in Spain and the conquest of Jerusalem by Godfrey of Bouillon; and crusading, we should remember, was much in the public mind in England at the end of the fifteenth century” (112). Similarly, Shaw notes, “References to ‘Sarasyns’ are almost always

n o t e s t o p a g e s 214 – 220 355

Kuskin Notes

11/15/07

9:38 AM

Page 356

left intact in his text, prompting the thought that Caxton may have wanted to encourage the view of the campaign against Rome as a sort of crusade, a holy war which could be related to the later mystical Christianity of the Grail story” (137). 40. Spisak edits the Winchester manuscript’s version as “Appendix II: The Manuscript Version of Arthur’s War with Lucius,” in Caxton’s Malory, 875. 41. Caxton, STC 801, i2; Spisak’s Appendix II, 880–81. 42. Spisak, Appendix II, 883. 43. This represents the Winchester manuscript’s thematic inheritance from its source, the alliterative Morte Arthure. Book 5 is based on the alliterative Morte Arthure, Hardyng’s Chronicle, the French prose Merlin, and more generally, the Brut and Lydgate’s Fall of Princes. See Spisak’s introduction to Caxton’s Malory; Robert H. Wilson’s “More Borrowings by Malory from Hardyng’s Chronicle,” Notes and Queries n.s. 17 (1970): 208–10. 44. As Patterson points out in Negotiating the Past, for the alliterative Morte Arthure, the text’s source, “Gawain’s defeat of Priamus is a metaphor for historical transition, a translatio virtutis from past to present. But if the dominion of the present over the past is asserted, so too is the continuity between them” (221). Fitting the flexible structure of the Nine Worthies, where the alliterative Morte Arthure ends the Roman War with Arthur’s repetition of Alexandrine history in his dream of Fortune’s prophecy of his fall, Le Morte D’Arthur ends with a consolidation of secular and ecclesiastical power that permits lay domestic tranquility. To this end, Malory (and in maintaining Malory, Caxton) leaves the Morte Arthure to follow Le Roi Arthur, postponing Arthur’s second dream until after Lancelot’s a±air with Guenevere. In doing so, Malory separates out Arthur’s historical influence from the Morte Arthure’s ultimately recursive nature of history. In Le Morte D’Arthur, the crucial moment of historical change is Priamus’s conversion. 45. “Caxton, Foucault, and the Pleasures of History,” in Premodern Sexualities, ed. Louise Fradenburg and Carla Freccero ( New York and London: Routledge, 1996), xiv. 46. Recognized by Reginald Harvey Gri¤th in “Malory, Morte Arthure, and Fierabras,” Anglia 32 (1909): 389–98. 47. Douglas Kelly discusses this type of description as “the commonplace inventory of female parts” in French literature in “Translatio Studii: Translation, Adaptation, and Allegory in Medieval French Literature,” Philological Quarterly 57 (1978): 288. Kelly argues that regardless of their well-worn demeanor, these tropes become significant when adapted to individual purpose. I would like to suggest that their appearance in English further renews them, and also o±er what Nancy Vickers says of the blazon to this prose description: The term “blazon” derives both from the French blasonner and from the English “to blaze” (“to proclaim as with a trumpet, to publish, and, by extension, to defame or celebrate”). Its usage was firmly rooted in two specific descriptive traditions, the one heraldic and the other poetic. A blazon was, first,

356 n o t e s t o p a g e s 220 – 228

Kuskin Notes

11/15/07

9:38 AM

Page 357

a conventional heraldic description of a shield, and, second, a conventional poetic description of an object praised or blamed by a rhetorician-poet. (“‘The blazon of sweet beauty’s best’: Shakespeare’s Lucrece,” in Shakespeare and the Question of Theory, ed. Patricia Parker and Geo±rey Hartman [ New York: Methuen, 1985], 95) See also Vickers, “Diana Described: Scattered Woman and Scattered Rhyme,” in Writing and Sexual Difference, ed. Elizabeth Abel (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1982), 95–109, where she argues that Petrarchan description solidifies the male speaker through a process of fetishization which in turn silences the female. Surely Charles the Grete is part of what Vickers sees as the establishment of idealized fetishistic beauty popularized through “the early years of printing” (107). More recently, see Lawrence D. Kritzman’s The Rhetoric of Sexuality and the Literature of the French Renaissance ( New York: Cambridge University Press, 1991). 48. These are recorded by E. Gordon Du± in Fifteenth Century English Books as no. 205 (1480; granted by Sixtus IV and commissioned by John Kendale; single issue), no. 206 (1480; granted by Sixtus IV, commissioned by John Kendale; single issue), and no. 208 (1480; granted by Sixtus IV, commissioned by John Kendale; plural issue); see also R. N. Swanson, “Caxton’s Indulgence for Rhodes, 1480–81,” The Library ser. v, 2 (2004): 195–201.

Chapter Six. Vernacular Humanism 1. See “The Humanist Book,” in The Cambridge History of the Book, 292. For fifteenth-century humanism, see Roberto Weiss’s foundational study Humanism in England in the Fifteenth Century; David Carlson, English Humanist Books: Writers and Patrons, Manuscript and Print, 1475–1525 ( Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1995); Seth Lerer, Chaucer and His Readers; Jill Kraye, ed., The Cambridge Companion to Renaissance Humanism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996); and Jonathan Woolfson, ed., Reassessing Tudor Humanism ( New York: Palgrave, 2002). 2. I borrow the terms of this chapter—vernacular humanism, selffashioning, the laureate system—from a cross section of scholarship that a¤rms the originality of sixteenth-century English writing. As in Caxton’s own prose, my borrowing is less a broad endorsement of these ideas than an appropriation, a reworking of pre-existing terminology toward my own uses. So, David Rundle argues that fifteenth-century humanism is distinct from “Tudor humanism”—or, rather, from that strand of lay vernacular humanism [italics mine] which arguably came to dominate after the first quarter of the sixteenth century. Fifteenth-century English humanist interest, in other words, is not Tudor humanism writ small; it has to be

n o t e s t o p a g e s 232 – 237 357

Kuskin Notes

11/15/07

9:38 AM

Page 358

judged on its own terms and its own context. That context, I suggest, is its critical role in the Europe-wide marketing of the studia humanitatis. (“Humanism Before the Tudors: On Nobility and the Reception of the studia humanitatis in Fifteenth-Century England,” in Reassessing Tudor Humanism, ed. Jonathan Woolfson, 24) While I agree this is broad di±erentiation, Rundle goes on to argue that fifteenth-century humanism is “disparate” and “localized,” a European import fundamentally separate from the cultural developments in early modern England. I suggest that the Yorkist period is not so divorced from the rhetoric of public self-creation that identifies sixteenth-century humanism. See also Colin Burrow’s assessment of an uncentered literary culture of “flux, negotiation and gossip,” in “The Experience of Exclusion: Literature and Politics in the Reigns of Henry VII and Henry VIII,” in Wallace, The Cambridge History of Medieval Literature, 794–95; and James Simpson’s argument for a “culture of jurisdictional heterogeneity,” in Oxford English Literary History, 1. While I do not deny the complexity these arguments suggest in their insistence on fifteenth-century literary culture’s fluidity and heterogeneity, I am suspicious: Westminster literary, scribal, and print production asserts a strong centralizing presence on English literary culture. Similarly, in arguing for a state-sponsored laureate system of self-fashioning persona, I lift terminology from well-known New Historicist studies, specifically Stephen Greenblatt’s Renaissance Self-Fashioning and Richard Helgerson’s SelfCrowned Laureates, to describe this earlier, neglected period. The view that the fifteenth century can rightly be neglected is widely repeated in scholarship on the early modern period. So, in Imprint of Gender: Authorship and Publication in the English Renaissance, Wendy Wall dismisses the importance of English writing in the late Middle Ages, to argue, like many others, for a firm break into the modern period: Certainly past writers were well established within a more aesthetically defined literary canon: Dante, Virgil, Petrarch, Ovid, Chaucer. But classical and medieval authorial roles were not accessible to contemporary writers because of the prestige attached to poetic amateurism, the vitality of the institution of patronage, the court’s curb on channels of ambition, and the special di¤culties created by writing vernacular love poetry. (12–13) A. F. Marotti also dismisses the cultural authority of the fifteenth-century laureate with a single sentence: “The editions of [Skelton’s] works that survive present him as ‘Skelton Laureate,’ ‘Skelton Poet Laureat’ or ‘Skelton Poeta,’ titles that emphasize his academic credentials and allude to his occasional courtly verse but do not seriously assert cultural authority within the print medium—something that might be claimed for the sixteenth-century editions of Chaucer’s collected works, for example, Thynne’s, published in 1532” (Manuscript, Print, and the English Renaissance Lyric, 293). Though threadbare, these assumptions have by no

358 n o t e s t o p a g e 237

Kuskin Notes

11/15/07

9:38 AM

Page 359

means been discarded. For example, the introduction to Reading, Society and Politics in Early Modern England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), Kevin Sharpe and Steven N. Zwicker argue for the modernity of the confluence between print, spirituality, and politics within a circuit of production and consumption (5) and marvel over the precocity of the sixteenth century (8). 3. See my review of the scholarship on John Russell in “Onely imagined,” in Kuskin, Caxton’s Trace, 220–23, and 239 n. 64. 4. M. E. Mallett, “Anglo-Florentine Commercial Relations, 1465–91,” Economic History Review 15 (1962–63): 261. 5. See Sutton and Visser-Fuchs, Richard III’s Books, 261. 6. Lowry, “The Arrival and Use of Continental Printed Books in Yorkist England,” 450 and 456. 7. Baldwin, Elizabeth Woodville: Mother of the Princes in the Tower (Stroud: Sutton, 2002), 101. 8. Lowry, “Diplomacy and the Spread of Printing,” 133. 9. Lowry, “The Arrival and Use of Continental Printed Books in Yorkist England,” 456; note Sutton and Visser-Fuchs’s modification of his argument in Richard III’s Books, 261 n. 97. 10. In “Vernacular Humanism in the Sixteenth Century,” Warren Boutcher characterizes sixteenth-century vernacular humanism as moving through “channels of international diplomacy, commercial exchange, international book distribution and polyglot humanistic culture and pedagogy—between international mediation and textual ‘intelligence,’” and discusses “the measure of humanistic success . . . [as] not textual elegance in Latin but ‘familiar’ vernacular talk on important and confidential matters with influential courtier-friends—crossing the cultural gap between ‘learned men,’” and this is exactly what we see in Russell’s biography and writing: an international court culture involved in the recovery and application of literary texts (in Kraye, The Cambridge Companion to Renaissance Humanism, 191–92). 11. See Ingulph’s Chronicle of the Abbey of Croyland with the Continuations of Peter of Blois and Anonymous Writers, trans. Henry T. Riley (London: Henry G. Bohn, 1854), 489. See also Keen, England in the Later Middle Ages, 482–89, for a concise summary of the events, and Alison Hanham’s chapter “The Usurpation and Reign of Richard III,” in Richard III and His Early Historians: 1483–1535 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1975) for a more in-depth account. Dominic Mancini’s De occupatione regni anglie provides a contemporary witness’s assessment of the situation from Edward IV’s death to Richard’s coronation on July 6 in The Usurpation of Richard III, trans. C. A. J. Armstrong (Gloucester: Alan Sutton, 1984). Finally, see Margarita Stocker, “Apocryphal Entries: Judith and the Politics of Caxton’s Golden Legend,” in Smith and Taylor, Women, the Book and the Worldly, 171. 12. Edited in John Gough Nichols, ed. and intro., Grants, Etc. From the Crown During the Reign of Edward the Fifth, Camden Society 60 (London: J. B. Nichols and Sons, 1854), xxxv–lxiii. Page numbers hereafter cited in text. For

n o t e s t o p a g e s 237 – 238 359

Kuskin Notes

11/15/07

9:38 AM

Page 360

further comments on this document, see also Sutton and Visser-Fuchs, Richard III’s Books, 150–51. 13. Hanham, Richard III, 45. 14. Edited by John Topham and Thomas Astle for the Rotuli Parliamentorum; ut et Petitiones, et Placita in Parliamento, vol. 6 (London, 1767–77), 240–42. 15. Summit, Lost Property, 39. 16. See Painter, William Caxton, 92–97, 104–5, 135–36, 157; Lerer, Chaucer and His Readers, chapter 5; and Carlson, English Humanist Books, particularly chapter 2, and pages 37–38, 134–35, 149, and 175–76. 17. The first half of the Livre des Eneydes greatly amplifies the Historie’s rendition of the Aeneid’s books 1–4, while the second remains closer to its account of Aeneas’s adventures after leaving Carthage. In addition to the extended contrast between Boccaccio’s and Virgil’s versions of the Dido tale, the Eneydos presents a number of major di±erences from the Aeneid, well reviewed in Louis Brewer Hall’s “Caxton’s Eneydos and the Redactions of Virgil,” Medieval Studies 22 (1960): 136–47. W. T. Culley provides a rough guide to plot di±erences between the two texts in his introductory notes to the EETS edition, and discusses Caxton’s adjustments to the text in Caxton’s Eneydos, 1490, ed. W. T. Culley and F. J. Furnivall, EETS e.s. 57 (1890; repr., London: Oxford University Press, 1962). 18. For a full overview of the development of the Justinian and Virgilian Didos, see Marilynn Desmond’s Reading Dido, especially pages 27–33 and 55–73. In his In Praise of Aeneas: Virgil and Epideictic Rhetoric in the Early Italian Renaissance ( Hanover, N.H.: University Press of New England, 1989), Craig Kallendorf argues that Boccaccio learned the Justinian version from Petrarch and included it in his Latin works as the more scholarly. See also Mary Louise Lord’s “Dido as an Example of Chastity: The Influence of Example Literature,” Harvard Library Bulletin 17 (1969): 22–44. A number of critics have argued that the separation of these two traditions alleviated any conflict between them. See for example, John Watkins, The Specter of Dido: Spenser and the Virgilian Epic ( New Haven: Yale University Press, 1995), 51, and Jerome Singerman’s Under Clouds of Poesy: Poetry and Truth in French and English Reworkings of the Aeneid, 1160–1513 ( New York: Garland, 1986), 210. 19. See John Carter’s “The Caxton Ovid,” The Book Collector 20 (1971): 7–18, for an account of its discovery and eventual purchase. Caxton includes “the xv bookes of Metamorpheseos in whyche been conteyned the fables of ouyde” in a list of “werkys & hstoryes translated out of frensshe in to englysshe” in the Golden Legend (pI; STC 24873); the comment is obviously ambiguous as to whether he printed it. Painter provides reasoned assessment that Caxton may have had time to print his translation in 1481 in William Caxton, 101–2. 20. Because Caxton did not include an original prologue of his own, the Methamorphose has received little scholarly investigation and remains without a modern edition. Blake ignores both the proem and the preface in Caxton and His World and presents only Caxton’s colophon in Caxton’s Own Prose; in the longest

360 n o t e s t o p a g e s 238 – 247

Kuskin Notes

11/15/07

9:38 AM

Page 361

consideration of the manuscript to date, J. A. W. Bennett dismisses the prefatory matter as completely formulaic, in Kathleen Scott’s The Caxton Master, xii. 21. Copeland, Rhetoric, Hermeneutics, and Translation, 114. 22. My text comes from St. Jerome: Letters and Selected Works, vol. 6: A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, 2nd ser., ed. Philip Scha± and Henry Wace (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1979), 149–51. See J. N. D. Kelly, Jerome: His Life, Writings, and Controversies ( New York: Harper & Row, 1975), 213, for a discussion of this text; and Eugene Rice, Jr., Saint Jerome in the Renaissance (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1985), 1–7, for a discussion of the dream and the traditions surrounding it. 23. Deuteronomy 21:14, in The Oxford Annotated Bible, ed. Herbert G. May and Bruce M. Metzger ( New York: Oxford University Press, 1962). 24. Saint Jerome, 205 n. 18. 25. Caxton seems to have drawn this story from his own biography; see Anne F. Sutton’s “Caxton Was a Mercer,” 127. 26. Henry inherited a vernacular bureaucracy from the Lancastrians and engaged a number of Continental humanist scholars in specialized positions. See the two definitive articles on the emergence of a vernacular bureaucracy by John H. Fisher, “Standard Written English,” and “Caxton and Chancery English.” 27. Perhaps the best characterization of this tendency in Skelton criticism is Gordon Kipling’s description of Skelton as “half-More, half-Lydgate,” in “John Skelton and Burgundian Letters,” 2. John Scattergood provides a useful bibliography in “Skelton and Elegy,” Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy 84 (1984): 333–47, to which should be added Stanley Fish’s reading in John Skelton’s Poetry ( New Haven: Yale University Press, 1965), 1–35. More recently, a number of scholars have begun to look away from the blanket terms of medieval and Renaissance to examine seriously the ways Skelton contributes to literary history. See chapter 1 of David Lee Miller’s The Poem’s Two Bodies. 28. Stanza 2, ll. 8–14. My quotations come from John Scattergood’s edition, John Skelton: The Complete English Poems ( New Haven: Yale University Press, 1983), 29–35. Line numbers are hereafter inserted parenthetically. 29. Derek Pearsall discusses Skelton as a Chaucerian in “The English Chaucerians,” in Chaucer and Chaucerians, ed. D. S. Brewer (Auburn: University of Alabama, 1966), 233. Work on Skelton’s Garland of Laurel usually focuses on this relationship as well. See Scattergood’s “Skelton’s Garlande of Laurell, and the Chaucerian Tradition,” in Chaucer Traditions: Studies in Honour of Derek Brewer, ed. Ruth Morse and Barry Windeatt (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), 122–38; and David Loewenstein’s “Skelton’s Triumph: The Garland of Laurel and Literary Fame,” Neophilologus 68 (1984): 611–22. This connection was also recognized shortly after Skelton’s death, and a number of sixteenth-century critics link him directly with Chaucer, Gower, and Lydgate. In The Poem’s Two Bodies, Miller points out that in 1574 Richard Robinson reported sighting Skelton on Mount Helicon in the company of Homer, Virgil, Ovid, Chaucer, Lydgate, Wager, Heywood,

n o t e s t o p a g e s 247 – 261 361

Kuskin Notes

11/15/07

9:38 AM

Page 362

and Barnaby Googe, while in 1579 an anonymous poet returned from Cupid’s camp with news of Skelton’s presence there in company with Homer, Virgil, Ovid, Hesiod, Euripides, Chaucer, and Gower. Not until after the early works of Sidney and Spenser had set wholly new standards for English versification do we find a growing condescension towards the roughness of both style and tone in Skelton’s satire. (46) For further examples, see A. S. G. Edwards’s introduction to Skelton: The Critical Heritage (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1981), 9–13. 30. Chaucer and His Readers, 185. 31. Cited in the anonymous “The Yorkshire Rebellion in 1489,” Gentleman’s Magazine 124:2 (1851): 459–68. On the Yorkshire exemption, see M. A. Hicks, “The Yorkshire Rebellion of 1489 Reconsidered,” Northern History 22 (1986): 39–62. 32. Hicks, “The Yorkshire Rebellion,” 50. 33. Gentleman’s Magazine, 463. 34. On Chambre see the article in the Gentleman’s Magazine and S. B. Chrimes’s Henry VII (London: Methuen, 1972), 80. 35. Sir John Egremont distinguished himself in the suppression of Buckingham’s rebellion against Richard III and had been granted the manor of Kempston in Bedfordshire as his reward. On May 3, 1487, Henry granted him an annuity out of the estates of the Yorkist Lord Lovell. In “The Murder at Cocklodge,” Durham University Journal 57 (1964–65), M. E. James argues that, driven by “frustrated ambition,” Egremont was the motivating force behind the rebellion, “a prototype of the bastard Machiavel of Elizabethan drama” (87). Regardless of Egremont’s actual role in the uprising, he was able to recuperate his position, and by 1493 the king made him a grant (under the title of Lord Egremont) of the Percy manors of Isleham and Farston during the fifth earl’s minority. 36. Hicks, “The Yorkshire Rebellion,” 49. 37. Letter 818 in The Paston Letters and Papers of the Fifteenth Century, 2 vols., ed. Norman Davis (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1971, 1976). 38. See M. A. Hicks, “Dynastic Change and Northern Society: The Career of the Fourth Earl of Northumberland, 1470–89,” Northern History 14 (1978): 78–107. For related discussions of the turbulent politics of the North, see Michael Weiss’s “A Power in the North? The Percies in the Fifteenth Century,” Historical Journal 19 (1976): 501–9, where he argues against the more traditional view that Northumberland represented a strong and stable influence; see also R. L. Storey’s “The North of England,” in Fifteenth-Century England, 1399–1509: Studies in Politics and Society, ed. S. B. Chrimes, C. D. Ross, and R. A. Gri¤ths ( Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1972), 129–44; and R. A. Gri¤ths’s “Local Rivalries and National Politics: The Percies, the Nevilles, and the Duke of Exeter, 1452–55,” Speculum 43 (1968): 589–632. 39. In A. F. Pollard’s The Reign of Henry VII from Contemporary Sources, vol. 1: Narrative Extracts (1913; repr., New York: AMS Press, 1967), 71–72.

362 n o t e s t o p a g e s 262 – 26 6

Kuskin Notes

11/15/07

9:38 AM

Page 363

40. Ibid., 70. 41. Ibid., 71–72. 42. Hicks, “The Yorkshire Rebellion,” 48. In total, Hicks writes, “Five [protesters] were condemned to death, at most only four were hanged” (43): three yeomen—Chambre, Chistopher Atkinson of Ayton, and James Binks of Sowerby—and a York cobbler, William Lister (46). 43. See G. L. Harriss, “Political Society and the Growth of Government in Late Medieval England,” Past and Present 138 (1993): 28–57; and two articles by P. R. Coss, “Bastard Feudalism Revised,” and “The Formation of the English Gentry”; as well as Sylvia L. Thrupp’s “The Problem of Conservation.” 44. The manuscript is discussed by Gavin Bone, in “Extant Manuscripts,” who tells that it was “begun for William Herbert of Pembroke and his wife Ann Deuereux (whose shields c. 1460–70 appear on the first page of ‘Troy’), but [was] unfinished until the time of Henry Algernon, the magnificent fifth Earl of Northumberland, their grandson” (292–93). John Scattergood also reviews the manuscript in “The London Manuscripts of John Skelton’s Poems,” in Reading the Past: Essays on Medieval and Renaissance Literature ( Dublin, Ireland, and Portland, Ore.: Four Courts Press, 1996), writing, “It is clear that Skelton’s London audience extended beyond the court, to provincial gentlemen who came to London for court or governmental business, and to the professional and mercantile areas of the literature citizenry” (279). More recently Alexandra Gillespie discusses the manuscript in “‘These proverbes yet do last’: Lydgate, the Fifth Earl of Northumberland, and Tudor Miscellanies from Print to Manuscript,” Yearbook of English Studies 33 (2003): 215–32. 45. For Skelton as a royal tutor, see David Carlson, “Royal Tutors in the Reign of Henry VII,” Sixteenth Century Journal 22 (1991): 253–79. For Skelton’s earnings at court, see Greg Walker, John Skelton and the Politics of the 1520s (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988), 37; and Margaret Condon’s “Ruling Elites in the Reign of Henry VII,” in Patronage, Pedigree and Power in Later Medieval England, ed. C. Ross (Gloucester: Alan Sutton, 1979), 110–11. For Henry’s patronage of such figures in general, see Carlson’s English Humanist Books, chapter 1, as well as “King Arthur and Court.” 46. The Bibliotheca Historica of Diodorus Siculus Translated by John Skelton, 2 vols., ed. F. M. Salter and H. L. R. Edwards, EETS o.s. 233 & 239 (London: Oxford University Press, 1956–57), 321. 47. For Grey, Free, and Tiptoft, see Roberto Weiss’s Humanism in England. For Russell, Shirwood, and Gunthorpe, as well as for an important caution to Weiss’s thesis concerning England’s intellectual isolation, see Martin Lowry’s “The Arrival and Use of Continental Printed Books in Yorkist England.” 48. Presented in E. Gordon Du±’s A Century of the English Book Trade: Grant, for life, to Peter Actoris, born in Savoy of the o¤ce of stationer to the King; also license to import, so often as he likes, from parts beyond the sea, books printed and not printed into the port of the city of London, and

n o t e s t o p a g e s 267 – 275 363

Kuskin Notes

11/15/07

9:38 AM

Page 364

other ports and places within the kingdom of England, and to dispose of the same by sale or otherwise, without paying customs, etc. thereon and without rendering any accompt thereof. (1) 49. André, an Augustinian friar, was present at Henry’s entry into London after Bosworth Field and is believed to have died in London around 1521. David Carlson discusses the poems written against Gaguin in “Politicizing Tudor Court Literature: Gaguin’s Embassy and Henry VII’s Humanists’ Response,” Studies in Philology 85 (1988): 279–304. For André in general, see William Nelson’s John Skelton, Laureate ( New York: Columbia University Press, 1939), appendix 1, 239–41. André’s remaining work is edited in James Gairdner’s Historia Regis Henrici Septimi, A Bernardo Andrea Tholosate Conscripta Necnon Alia Quaedam as Eudem Regem Spectantia, Rolls Series 10 (London: Longmans, 1858), and Gairdner’s preface to that work provides a useful biography. See also Edmund Kemper Broadus’s The Laureateship: A Study of the Office of Poet Laureate in England with Some Account of the Poets (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1921); Walker briefly discusses André in relation to Skelton in his John Skelton and the Politics of the 1520s, 36–37; and Carlson devotes chapter 3 of English Humanist Books to André, and discusses the intellectuals at Henry’s court in “King Arthur and Court Poems.” 50. Gairdner, 48–49, l.6. Translations are my own. 51. See Christine Carpenter’s “Henry VII and English Polity,” in The Reign of Henry VII: Proceedings of the 1993 Harlaxton Symposium, ed. Benjamin Thompson (Stamford, Conn.: Paul Watkins, 1995) , 11–30; as well as I. Arthurson’s “The Rising of 1497: A Revolt of the Peasantry?” in People, Politics, and Community in the Later Middle Ages, ed. J. T. Rosenthal and C. Richmond (Gloucester: Alan Sutton, 1987), 1–18. More generally, see Paul Slack’s Rebellion, Popular Protest and the Social Order in Early Modern England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984). 52. Walker, John Skelton, 36. 53. Thomas E. Martson, “A Book Owned by Giovanni Gigli,” Yale University Library Gazette 34 (1959): 48. 54. Presented in Sutton and Visser-Fuchs, Richard III’s Books, Presens liber pertinet ad Willelmum purde emptus a Willelmo Caxton regis impressore vicessimo Novembris Anno Regni Regis Edwardi quarti vicessimo secundo [this book belongs to William Purde; [it was] bought from William Caxton the king’s printer, on 20 November in the twenty-second year of the reign of King Edward IV]. (255) 55. In “Caxton Was a Mercer” Anne F. Sutton discusses John She¤eld as a Mercer whose term was responsible for a significant political snafu: His youth, inexperience and hot temper may have been the cause of his argument with the meter of Antwerp, Martin van der Hove, over a bale of madder which split during the weighing. She¤eld became abusive and provoked

364 n o t e s t o p a g e s 27 6 – 27 9

Kuskin Notes

11/15/07

9:38 AM

Page 365

Martin to come out with the age-old insult for Englishmen—that they were born with tails like devils, the mark of Cain, the result of a curse laid on them by St Augustine. The authorities of Antwerp decided to take a militant anti-English stand over the quarrel, and the English, led by Overey as governor, packed their goods and left for Bruges, declaring they would not sell any more in Antwerp. (127) Thus Caxton’s story uses She¤eld to recollect, more privately, a larger incident of nationalism and language. 56. “Illuminated Manuscripts Associated with Henry VII and Members of His Immediate Family,” in The Reign of Henry VII, 179. See also Eleanor P. Spencer’s description of these manuscripts in “Antoine Vérard’s Illuminated Vellum Incunables,” in Manuscripts in the Fifty Years After the Invention of Printing, ed. J. B. Trapp (London: University of London, 1983): 62–65, where she comments on the elaborate ends to which Vérard went to make his printed editions approximate written text. For a brief overview of Vérard’s life and work, see Mary Beth Winn’s “Antoine Vérard’s Presentation Manuscripts and Printed Books,” also in Manuscripts in the Fifty Years After the Invention of Printing, 66–74. 57. See Kipling’s “Henry VII and the Origins of Tudor Patronage,” in Patronage in the Renaissance, ed. Guy Lytle and Stephen Orgel (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1981), 126. In The Triumph of Honour, Kipling argues that upon Caxton’s death Vérard gained Henry’s exclusive patronage through the Royal Librarian, Quentin Poulet, and established “both a library and a Flemish manuscript workshop at Richmond, sta±ed by Flemish scribes and illuminators” (8). See Backhouse, “Illuminated Manuscripts,” in Thompson, The Reign of Henry VII, for a strong caution regarding Kipling’s argument. 58. See Salter and Edwards’s introduction to volume 1 of Skelton’s Bibliotheca historica, ix.

Epilogue 1. Everyman, printed by John Skot (London, 1535; STC 10606.5), B.iiv. 2. For example, Caxton printed approximately eight texts after 1490. Of these almost half, The Fifteen Oes (STC 20195), The Book of Divers Ghostly Matters (STC 3305), and the Ars moriendi (STC 786), are overtly concerned with death. 3. See note 8 in the introduction. 4. See note 7 of the introduction. 5. In Hellinga and Trapp, The Cambridge History of the Book, 575. 6. Ibid., xviii and 3, respectively. 7. David Scott Kasten, “Print, Literary Culture and the Book Trade,” in The Cambridge History of Early Modern English Literature, ed. David Loewenstein and Janel Meuller (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), 88 and 108 respectively.

n o t e s t o p a g e s 281 – 28 6 365

Kuskin Notes

11/15/07

9:38 AM

Page 366

8. See Simpson’s “Envoi” to Oxford English Literary History, particularly page 558. 9. Almost all twentieth-century examinations of the Eneydos have compared it to Douglas’s Eneados and, following his argument, concluded that Caxton’s text betrays a conceptually older understanding of translation. See, for example, Christopher Baswell’s conclusion to Virgil in Medieval England: Figuring the Aenied from the Twelfth Century to Chaucer (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), 270±.; chapter 5 of Marilynn Desmond’s Reading Dido: Gender, Textuality, and the Medieval Aeneid ( Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1994); A. E. C. Canitz’s “From Aeneid to Eneados: Theory and Practice of Gavin Douglas’s Translation,” Medievalia et Humanistica 17 (1991): 81–99; and Louis Brewer Hall’s “Caxton’s Eneydos and the Redactions of Virgil,” Medieval Studies 22 (1960): 136–47. 10. These also include Thomas Creed, 1607 (STC 15380); Barnard Alsop, 1617 (STC 15381); Alsop and T. Fawcett, 1636 (STC 15382); Samuel Speed, 1663 ( Wing L929, L934, L938); T. Passenger, 1670 (STC Wing L930, L935, L939); Passenger, 1676 ( Wing L931, L936, L940); Passenger, 1680 ( Wing L932); Passenger, 1684 ( Wing L933, L937A, L941A). 11. Norton Anthology of English Literature, vol. 1, 6th ed., ed. M. H. Abrams ( New York: W. W. Norton, 1993), 384; The Bedford Introduction to Drama, 5th ed., ed. Lee A. Jacobs (Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2005). 12. (Boston: Houghton Mi¬in, 1975), 791. 13. Pynson’s editions are 1515 (STC 10604) and 1526 (STC 10604.5), and complete copies of John Skot’s editions of 1528 (STC 10606) and 1535 (STC 10606.5). 14. The argument comes from W. W. Greg, “Everyman,” from the Fragments of the Two Editions by Pynson Preserved in the Bodleian Library and the British Museum Together with Critical Apparatus (Louvain: A. Uystpruyst, 1910), and is thoroughly reviewed by Joseph A. Dane and Rosemary A. Roberts in “The Calculus of Calculus: W. W. Greg and the Mathematics of Everyman Editions,” Studies in Bibliography 53 (2000): 117–28. 15. Dane and Roberts, “Calculus,” 123. 16. Ibid., 124–28. 17. Dane, The Myth of Print Culture; see chapter 2, “Twenty Million Incunables Can’t be Wrong,” 39±. 18. The two earlier versions are in McKerrow, Printers’ & Publishers’ Devices, 59a–b. The last version ( McKerrow, Printers’ & Publishers’ Devices, 75), though maintaining the triangular arrangement, is somewhat di±erent, substituting the Parisian bookseller Denis Roche’s famous wild men or satyrs; see McKerrow’s commentary on page 26. 19. Davies, Devices of the Early Printers, 91. Davies also points out that Gerard Leeu used a similar device the same year and suggests that the two used the same woodcutter (366–70).

366 n o t e s t o p a g e s 28 6 – 29 0

Kuskin Notes

11/15/07

9:38 AM

Page 367

20. See my discussion in chapter 1. 21. Du±y, The Stripping of the Altars, 51. 22. Erler, “Devotional Literature,” 496, 506, and 515; Mary Kay Duggan, “Reading Liturgical Books,” 72. 23. Kristian Jenson, “Printing the Bible in the Fifteenth Century: Devotion, Philology and Commerce,” in Jensen, Incunabula, 115.

n o t e s t o p a g e s 292 – 29 7 367

Kuskin Index

11/15/07

9:39 AM

Page 368

Index

Ackworth Rebellion, 276 Act for the Settlement of the Crown, 238–40 Actors, Peter, 275, 317n77 Agüera y Arcas, Blaise, 6–8 alchemy of the press, 111–14, 118, 148 Alcock, John, 162 Al-Jazerra, 38 Al-Thani, Hamad Bin Khalifa, king of Qatar, 37–38 Althorp library, 33–35 Althusser, Louis, 26 Amerbach, Johann, 297 Ames, Joseph: Typographical Antiquities, 7, 33, 50 Anderson, Benedict, 208 Imagined Communities, 195, 300n6 André, Bernard, 275–77 “Les douze triomphes de Henry VII,” 275 Vita Henrici Septimi, 275–76 Anwykyll, John: Compendium totius grammaticae, 75, 243 appropriation. See also authority: appropriation of; Chaucerian inheritance the book as an object of, 136–37, 148, 335n43 The Book of Courtesy on, 144–45 Caxton’s use of, 16, 19, 139–40, 154, 208–9 “Myn Hert ys Set” illustrating, 118–22 nature of, 140

368

of printer’s marks, 52, 55, 65, 67–73, 68–69f, 70–73f, 185, 290–93, 291f, 292f as a rhetorical weapon, 248–49 tension of doubleness in the Worthy Series, 208–12 archival imagination, 5–6, 285, 288, 295, 298 Aristotle, 167–68, 180 Ethics, 243 Arthur, Prince, 275–76 Arthurian legend, 203–6, 210–11, 348n2. See also Caxton, William, Le Morte D’Arthur Arundel, Thomas, 183, 184 Ashby, George, 172 Prisoner’s Reflections, 133 Assembly of Ladies (anon.), 134 Atkinson, William: Imytacyon and Folowynge the Blessed Lyfe of our Sauyour Chryste, 182 audience defining the, 19–20 for Eneydos, 278–79 Skelton’s, 281, 363n44 for Worthies Series, 196–97, 212–13, 234 Audubon: Birds of America, 37–38 Augustine: Retractationes, 131 Aurner, Nellie Slayton: Caxton, Mirrour of Fifteenth-Century Letters, 307n1 authorial identity, 18, 176–79, 282 authorial intention, 5, 245, 250, 254–56

Kuskin Index

11/15/07

9:39 AM

Page 369

authority. See also women, literary authority of appropriation of —political, 163, 201–7, 260–70 —print in facilitating, 147–48 —scriptural, 208–9 —by writers, post-Chaucer, 18–19, 143–44, 160–61 the book as tangible representation of, 18–20, 60–61, 81, 102, 136, 172–73 capital’s relationship to, 19, 82–90, 94–96, 102 commodities’ symbolic power to invoke, 62, 213 immutable, 145 of the nobility, 162–65, 168–69, 199–206, 270 paternal, 146–47, 152–53, 155 political, capital in construction of, 82–90 the political and the literary joined, 92, 162–65, 168–71, 170f, 185, 233–34, 240, 265–66 of the printer, 94–96, 136 printer’s marks as signs of, 58–62, 63, 65, 67, 78 social, 20, 172–73, 180–81 symbolic production of through printed material, 11 of the translator, 206–7, 211 authority, literary. See also women, literary authority of ambivalence in, 241 authorship and, 19, 108 cultural importance of, 276 defined, 19 identity defined through, 258 inheritance of, 167–68 the laureate system and, 241, 258, 270–78, 283 “Myn Hert ys Set” and, 121 of the printed text, 94–97, 105

of the vernacular, 4–5, 19–20, 179–80, 207–9, 233–34, 247, 265–66 in the Worthies Series, 207–13 authorship the articulation of intention, 245–46 legal codification of, 108 literary authority and, 19, 108 The Babees Book, 137 Backhouse, Janet, 281 Bagnyon, Jean, 224 Balbus, Johannes: Catholicon, 94 “Ballet of the Nine Nobles,” 198 Barbier, Jean, 15 Barker, Nicolas, 105 Bartholomeus Anglicus: De proprietatibus rerum, 52 Beaufort, Lady Margaret, 67, 156, 161, 181–86, 189–90, 278 The Mirroure of Golde for the Synfulle Soule, 182 Beauvais, Vincent of: Speculum historiale, 225, 311n26 Belfortis, Andreas, 10 Belyea, Barbara, 348n2 Benjamin, Walter, 37 Berkeley, Lord, 184 Berners, Juliana, 56 Bevington, David: Medieval Drama, 288 bibliography, 5, 62, 74 bibliomania, 32–33, 164, 309n12 Birrell, T. A., 35 Bishop Moore Sammelband, 134, 138 Blades, William, 33, 50, 306n1, 313n52, 314n53, 338n1, 343n31 The Life and Typography of William Caxton, 306n1 William Caxton: England’s First Printer, 7 Blake, N. F., 74–75, 157, 339n1, 340n6 Book Collector, 308n2 Caxton and His World, 307n1, 319n1 A Study of the Literature of the First English Press, 307n1

i n d e x 369

Kuskin Index

11/15/07

9:39 AM

Page 370

Blake, N. F. (cont.) William Caxton: A Bibliographical Guide, 25, 307n1 William Caxton (Authors of the Middle Ages), 25, 307n1 Blandford, Marquis of, 32–33 to blaze/blazing, 58–59, 65, 356n47 Boccaccio, Giovanni, 286 Decameron, 32–33, 39 De casibus, 55, 238, 244, 251 Bodley 414 manuscript, Canterbury Tales, 129 Boethius, 208–9 De consolatione philosophiae, 16, 54 Boffey, Julia, 287, 289 “Literary Texts,” 285 Bona of Savoy, 83, 85 Bone, Gavin, 363n44 Bonet, Honoré: L’arbre des batailles, 176 Book of Courtesy (anon.), 125, 136–39, 143–48, 172, 336n45 books. See also the press; the readerbook relationship as archive, 298 collecting —clubs for, 33, 35 —defining identity through, 32, 37–38 —the nobility and, 354n32 —politics and, 37–38 —women and, 181–82, 189–90 as commodities, 50, 61, 106–9, 293, 295–97 distribution of, 182–83, 346n45 importing, 76, 110, 317n77, 363n48 innovations in, 43, 52, 61 magic of, 23, 127 manuscripts compared, 19–20 object-value connection, 1–2, 31–39, 50 remaindered, 52, 55 representative aspects of, 117 as social objects, 42–43 structure, 41, 61, 195, 298

370 i n d e x

as symbols —of appropriation, 136–37, 148, 335n43 —of authority, 11, 18–20, 60–61, 81, 102, 136, 154, 172–73 —of capital, 110, 135–36 —of English culture, 20 —of power, 127 —of social reproduction, 2, 136–48 uses for, 10, 183 books, demand for. See also literary production, fifteenth century; print market classical authors, 242–43 creating, strategies for, 52, 55, 61, 106–7, 137, 212–13 Everyman, 289 humanist scholarship, 242–43 liturgical material, 9–10, 109, 182–84, 296–97 Recuyell of the Histories of Troye, 287 statistics reflecting, 1, 10–11, 15–16, 18, 296–97, 303n20, 304n32 in transforming English public and private life, 3–5 book sellers, illustrated, 48 Bornstein, Diane, 197, 348n1 the bourgeoisie, 20, 35, 37, 147, 193, 201, 348n2. See also class structure Boutcher, Warren, 359n10 Bracciolini, Poggio: Bibliotheca historica (trans.), 47, 274 Bradshaw, Henry, 7, 33, 313n52, 314n53 Braytoft, Richard, 199 Brice, Hugh, 43, 48, 156, 311n33 Bridgettine order, 182, 346n45 Brothers of the Common Life, 65 Brown, Cynthia: Poets, Patrons, and Printers, 107 Bühler, Curtis, 165 The Fifteenth-Century Book, 109 Bunting, Hugh, 263 Burgundian court, 77, 82–90, 95, 164–65, 197–98, 242

Kuskin Index

11/15/07

9:39 AM

Page 371

Burley, Walter De vita et moribus philosophorum, 53 Buttler, Eleanor, 238 Byddell, John, 67 Byles, A. T. P., 343n31 Caister circle, 160, 173 Caoursin, Guillaume: The Siege of Rhodes, 232–34 capital. See also economics books as symbolic of, 110, 135–36 defined, 19 for the production of capital, 17, 22, 52, 77, 82–90, 111, 114 relationship to authority, 82, 87–90, 94–96 capitalism, 305n37 Carlson, David R., 52, 215, 339n1, 348n2 Carmelianus, Petrus, 75, 275 Sex epistolae, 242 Carpenter, Christine, 351n21 Carus-Wilson, E. M., 77, 320nn5–6 “The Woollen Industry,” 305n37 Castel, Jean, 174 Caston, William, of Calais, 314n53 Cato: Disticha, 137, 138 Caxton, Elizabeth, 15, 110 Caxton, William autobiography, 29 biography, 13–17, 29–31, 77–78, 306n1, 307n1 career, 29–30, 52–53, 314n57, 340n6 feminism and, 24 on language, 257–60, 279, 281 legacy of, 2–4, 9, 19, 23, 298 on literary production, 43–44 Mansion compared, 54–55 patrons of, 43, 90–93, 156–58, 166, 181–82, 189, 194, 321n15 on reader-book relationship, 31 on readers, 1 as translator, 90–94, 206–7 unprinted works, Ovyde his booke of Methamorphose, 241

on woodcuts, 42 works financed by, 52–53 Caxton, William, as printer. See also printer’s mark: Caxton’s; the press, Caxton’s authority of, 94–96, 136 the King’s Printer, 15, 278 marketing strategies, 17, 31, 82, 102, 104–7, 114, 136–37, 212, 348n1 on printing, 82, 105, 111–13 techniques, evolution of, 43 title pages used by, 41 typefaces used by, 43, 53, 54, 95, 105 Caxton, William, critical program constructing a unified literary culture, 19–20, 193–95, 202–3, 232–35 doubleness element in, 283 introduction, 2–4 power of, 195 readers in —creating an imaginary community of, 23, 137 —enabling through technology, 19–20, 82, 206, 212–14 —making literary authority available to, 283 Caxton, William, friends/relationships Large, Robert, 29, 30, 307n2 Malory, Thomas, 340n6 Mansion, Colard, 54, 315n63 Margaret of York, 29, 90–93, 189, 321n15 with the nobility, 87–93, 102, 162, 278, 319n1, 321n15 Skelton, John, 260, 281 Woodville, Anthony, 30, 156–66, 340n6 Wynkyn de Worde, 15 Caxton, William, identity/persona of authority, 85–90 Caxton’s construction of, 22, 77–79, 82, 102 as courtier, 158–59 as diplomat, 77, 83, 85–90, 321n15

i n d e x 371

Kuskin Index

11/15/07

9:39 AM

Page 372

Caxton, William, identity/persona (cont.) as entrepreneur, 30–31, 77–78, 87–88, 195 as innovator, 16 as Mercer and Stapler, 13, 77–78, 102, 304n27, 318n80 as merchant, 22, 75–77, 110, 183, 317n77 as reader, 46–48, 189, 257 as scholar, 23–24, 242, 277–78 Caxton, William, imprints 1476–1479, 16–17 1482–1485, 15 audience for, 348n2 Caxton name associated with increased value, 31 of Chaucerian poetry, 16–17, 124–25, 328n19 chronology of, 25 as heretical, 184 of humanist books, 242 illustrations in, 40f indulgences, 95–97, 194, 213–16, 242 pamphlet miscellaney, 156–57 patterning in, 16–17, 23, 193–94 political and propagandistic, 195–96 quarto miscellany, 134, 138 sales of —to collectors, 31–33 —prices, 212–13, 281–82 —Recuyell of the Histories of Troye, 309n12 —Wentworth Chaucer, 31–32, 36–38, 41 statistics, 15 Caxton, William, imprints (editions) Advertisement, 22, 102, 104–7, 104f, 114 Anelida and Arcite, 204, 328n19 Blanchardin and Eglantine, 33, 106, 181 Book of Courtesy, 125, 136–39, 143–48, 328n19 The Book of Fame/House of Fame, 17, 140, 328n19 Book of Good Manners, 76

372 i n d e x

Canterbury Tales. See Caxton, William, imprints, Canterbury Tales Charles the Grete. See Caxton, William, imprints, Charles the Grete Chronicles of England, 43, 56, 74, 105, 111, 113, 134, 178 Commemoratio lamentationis, 76 Confessio amantis, 17, 328n19 Consolation of Philosophy/De consolatione philosophiae, 16, 54, 134, 136–37, 145–46, 155, 242 Cordiale quattuor novissimorum, 53 Cordyale, 17, 156–57, 162, 194 Curial, 156–60, 173, 204, 240 De proprietatibus rerum, 314n57 Description of Britain, 134 Dictes and Sayings of the Philosophers, 17, 157, 160, 162–65, 172–74, 188–89, 342n20 Directorium sacerdotum, 257, 317n78 Disticha, 137, 138 Doctrinal of Sapience, 305n35, 313n50 Doctrine to Learn French and English, 134 Donatus melior, 242 Eneydos. See Caxton, William, imprints, Eneydos Epitome, 242 Fayts of Arms, 23, 161, 175, 194, 343n31 Festial, 33 Festum transfigurationis Jesu Christi, 76, 317n78 Fifteen Oes, 181, 183 Foure Sonnes of Aymon, 156, 175, 194 Game and Play of Chess, 13, 50, 53, 90, 95, 157–58, 305n35 Godfrey of Boloyne. See Caxton, William, imprints, Godfrey of Boloyne Golden Legend, 15, 17, 55, 112, 156, 194, 305n35 Histoire de Jason, 53, 95 History of Jason, 112, 194, 242

Kuskin Index

11/15/07

9:39 AM

Page 373

Horae ad usum Sarum, 10, 109, 183, 317n78 House of Fame/Book of Fame, 17, 140, 328n19 Image of Pity, 76 Infancia salvatoris, 138 Jubilee Indulgence to England, 214 Knight of the Tower, 33 Legenda ad usum Sarum, 50, 110, 212, 317nn77–78 Le Morte D’Arthur. See Caxton, William, imprints, Le Morte D’Arthur Life of Our Lady, 17, 328n19 Lives of the Fathers, 15 Méditations sur les sept psaumes pénitentiaux, 53, 95 Methamorphose, 23, 236, 244, 255–56 The Mirrour of the World, 39, 41–43, 47–48, 112, 148, 156, 305n35, 311n26 Missale ad usum Sarum, 49, 110, 317nn77–78 Morale Prouerbes, 17, 23, 157, 174 Nova rhetorica, 242 Of Old Age; Of Friendship; Of Nobility, 173, 278 Ordinale ad usum Sarum, 82, 102, 104–7, 114 Ordre of Chyualry, 48, 305n35 Parlement of Fowls, 138, 328n19 Polychronicon, 15, 17, 47, 55, 148, 184, 194, 278, 305n35 Propositio, 195, 237 Quattuor sermones, 76, 134 Recueil des Histories de Troie, 53, 95 Recuyell. See Caxton, William, imprints, Recuyell of the Histories of Troye Robert Erle of Oxeforde, 175, 194 Royal Book, 112 Sex epistolae, 242 Speculum vitae Christi, 33, 182 Troilus and Criseyde, 16, 328n19 Caxton, William, imprints, Canterbury Tales 1476/77, 14, 31–33, 126, 139, 151, 328n19

1483, 15, 17, 47, 126, 134, 140, 148, 151, 328n119 capital investment embodied in, 135–36 defined, 136 freedom of the compositor in, 129, 136, 330n24 General Prologue, 133, 140–42, 141f manuscripts derived from, 133–34 marketing strategy, 136–37 Monk’s Tale, 133 Prologue to the Clerk’s Tale, 139 Retraction, 126–36, 128f sales price, 334n41 Sammelbände, 134 Wife of Bath’s Tale, 39, 40f Caxton, William, imprints, Charles the Grete authority of, 208 defining the individual through desire, 225–32 discussion of Paul in, 208–9, 211 emphasis on the imaginary, 233 Fierabras section, 197, 208, 225–27 in folio, 212 Godfrey of Boloyne compared, 225, 226–27 grouping by Caxton, 17, 194 Le Morte D’Arthur compared, 225 mentioned, 196 reduction used by Caxton in, 112 “Saint Pol docteur de verite,” 208, 211 source material, 197–98, 225 Caxton, William, imprints, Eneydos audience for, 278–79 Caxton as the reader in, 48 Dido traditions in, 240–41, 244–46, 251–57 doubleness theme in, 240, 278, 283 eggs anecdote, 259, 279, 281 history of the book in, 243–44 history of writing in, 240, 244–46, 251–57, 275 identity developed in, 258, 282 illustrations, 280f

i n d e x 373

Kuskin Index

11/15/07

9:39 AM

Page 374

Caxton, William, imprints, Eneydos (cont.) intention-artifice relationhip, 252–53 literary culture, role in constructing, 242 mentioned, 82, 236 Methamorphose linked to, 244 mutability of language discussion, 279 Ovid Moralisé compared, 251 Recuyell and, 258, 260, 277 source material, 243–44 Troy myth in, 251–57 vernacular humanism and, 23, 282–83 Caxton, William, imprints, Godfrey of Boloyne about, 214 audience for, 212–13 Charles the Grete compared, 225, 226–27 Le Morte D’Arthur compared, 222, 224 mentioned, 17, 194, 233 political action modeled in, 206–7 review of Nine Worthies in prologue, 196 source material, 197, 210–11, 214 tension of doubly appropriative mechanisms in, 209–10, 216–19, 222 Caxton, William, imprints, Le Morte D’Arthur Arrivall’s similarity to, 203 audience for, 212–13 authority of, 203–5, 208, 211 Charles the Grete compared, 225 critique of Godfrey in prologue, 196–97 in folio, 212 Godfrey of Boloyne compared, 222, 224 grouping by Caxton, 17, 194 mentioned, 15, 55, 233 patronage, 194 source material, 198, 210–11, 220, 226 tension of doubly appropriative mechanisms in, 210, 219–24 thematic continuity in, 219–20

374 i n d e x

War with Lucius, 220–21 Winchester manuscript compared, 212–13, 220–23 Caxton, William, imprints, Recuyell of the Histories of Troye Burgundian court’s influence on, 242 Caxton on Caxton in, 29 commentary on, 22 copperplate engraving, 171 demand for, 287 Eneydos compared, 258, 260, 277 fourme of literary authority, 90–102 frontispiece, 98f grouping by Caxton, 17, 194 mentioned, 13, 82 patronage for, 90–93, 156 printer’s mark in, 50 production process, 54 prologues and epilogues, 90–102 sales of, 33 in sixteenth century, 287 textual history as personal history in, 165 typography of, 53 the vernacular expression in, 257–60 Caxton, William, Worthies Series of romances. See also specific titles in audience for, 196–97, 212–13, 234 authority of, 207–13, 234 conclusions, 233–35 introduction, 193–96 in manuscript vs. in print, costs of, 212–13 as marketing strategy, 348n1 patronage for, 194 patterning in, 215–16 the reader-book relationship in, 213 source material, 197, 208 structural devices, 194, 197–99 tension of doubly appropriative mechanisms in, 208–12, 219–24 titles contained in, 23, 196 Caxton, William, writing in prologues and epilogues. See also specific titles capital, authority, print and persona domination of, 82, 90–102

Kuskin Index

11/15/07

9:39 AM

Page 375

discussion of Paul in, 208–9 on durability of writing, 46–47 on investment and labor of production, 112 on libraries, 47–48 on patronage and commerce, 53 self-identity revealed in, 77 tension in, 92–94 themes of passage in, 137 tributes to Chaucer in, 137, 148 uses for, 193–94 on value of literary production, 46–47 Caxton, William, writing of appropriation practices, 19, 139–40, 208–9 Burgundian court’s influence on, 197–98, 242 conventionality of, 92–94 as derivative, 17, 193, 242 literary and political authority linked in, 258 literary tropes, 24, 93, 152–53, 197–98, 208, 211–12 as a reader, 189 self-reflective quality of, 30–31 use of the vernacular, 278 Caxton studies history of, 306n1 patronage and commerce polarizing, 107–9, 155–57, 319n1 recent research, 307n1 traditional assessment of classical texts, 241–42 Chambre, John à, 263, 264 Charles the Bold, 88–89, 164, 195, 237 Charles V, 163 Charles VII, 83, 188 Chartier, Alain Belle Dame sans Merci, 173, 188 Curial, 157–60 Chaucer, Alice (Alice de la Pole), 123, 149, 189 Chaucer, Geoffrey appropriation practices, 136, 139–40 authorial identity, 18

authority as poet laureate, 272 feminism and, 120, 188 newfangledness used by, 204–5, 351n21 Skelton and, 261–62, 270 Socrates compared, 167 tributes to, 137, 139, 148–50 Chaucer, Geoffrey, Canterbury Tales Canon Yeoman’s Prologue and Tale, 130 Caxton imprints, 14, 15, 17, 31–33, 47, 126 Caxton prologue, 148–53 Clerk’s Tale, 148, 272 General Prologue, 133, 138, 140–42, 141f, 167 in manuscript, 36–37, 123, 127, 129–34, 149–51 Monk’s Tale, 133, 198 Parson’s Tale, 127, 129–30 Prioress’s Tale, 144 Prologue to the Clerk’s Tale, 139 public demand for, 127, 133 Retraction, 126–36, 128f, 209 textual history as personal history in, 165 Troilus and Criseyde, 134 Wife of Bath’s Tale, 39, 40f women as readers of, 181 Chaucer, Geoffrey, other works of “Adam Scriveyn,” 130, 143 Anelida and Arcite, 204 The Book of Fame/House of Fame, 17, 140, 328n19 Consolation of Philosophy, 134 Gentilesse, 138 Legend of Good Women, 120–21, 144, 328n19 in manuscript, 122, 133–34 Parlement of Fowls, 133, 328n19 themes, 142–43 “Treatise on the Seven Deadly Sins,” 129 Troilus and Criseyde, 16, 142 vernacular poetics embedded in social class, 140–43

i n d e x 375

Kuskin Index

11/15/07

9:39 AM

Page 376

Chaucer, Thomas, 123 Chaucerian canon, 122, 136, 144, 286, 330n22 Chaucerian inheritance defined, 117, 153 the female legacy in, 189 introduction, 18–19 “Myn Hert ys Set” illustrating, 118–22 paternal legacy in, 123–25, 138–39, 153–54, 162, 167–68, 189 of poetic authority, habitability by minor writers, 23, 124–25, 155, 160–61 Christianson, C. Paul, 16, 108 Christie’s book auctions, 31–32, 37 Christine de Pizan, 161, 173–80, 186–89 Dits moraux, 174 Fayts of Arms (Le livre des faits d’armes), 23, 30, 161, 175–78, 186–88, 343n31 La cité des dames, 176–77 L’Epitre d’Othéa, 173, 175, 181 Livre du corps de policie/Bodye of Polyce, 163, 290 Morale Prouerbes, 15, 17, 23, 48, 161–62, 173–75, 188 Querelle du Roman de la Rose, 188 Cicero De amicitia, 278 De officiis, 237 De senectute, 278 Epistolae ad familiars, 237 Of Old Age; Of Friendship; Of Nobility, 173, 278 Paradoxa, 237 Clanvowe, John, 140 class structure. See also nobility; the bourgeoisie books in flattening, 20, 35–36, 60–61, 106, 196–97 in Chaucer’s hierarchy of writing, 140–43 reproduction through paternity, 146–47

376 i n d e x

symbolized through consumer goods, 60–61 Yorkshire uprising and, 260–70 Colonia, Johannes de: Lectura super Clementinas, 65, 67f color in Boke of St. Albans, 58 intentionality conveyed through, 245–46 red rubrics, printing of, 257, 315n63, 317n78 commodities. See also capital books as, 50, 61, 106–9, 293, 295–97 Dibdin’s construction of the library, 33–36 symbolic power to invoke authority, 62, 213 computer imaging, identifying type using, 6 Conches, Guillaume de: Moralis philosophia, 165 conduct literature, 136–39, 143–48, 336n45. See also specific titles Confrérie de St. Jean, 54 Constable, Marmaduke, 265 Constitutions of 1409, 183, 184 Copeland, Rita, 247 Copland, Robert, 16 indulgences, 355n36 Copland, William, 156 Recuyell of the Histories of Troye, 287 Coss, P. R., 202 Costomiris, Robert: “Sharing Chaucer’s Authority,” 330n22 Cosyn, Robert, 87 Coventry corporation, 199–200 Crane, John, 124 Creede, Thomas: Recuyell of the Histories of Troye, 287 Cresse, William, 314n53 Crop, Gerard, 110 Crotch, W. J. B., 305n35, 314n53 The Prologues and Epilogues of William Caxton, 25, 306n1 Croyland Chronicle, 171–72

Kuskin Index

11/15/07

9:39 AM

Page 377

culture, material, 33, 60–62 “Cuneiform Typography,” 6 Dane, Joseph A., 289–90, 339n1 Daubeney, William, 156, 353n26 Davies, H. M., 49, 51, 314n54 death, 44–46, 45f, 284, 293–95, 294 f De consolatione ( Jena MS), 97, 100, 101f De Hamel, C. F. R., 108 Desmond, Marilynn, 348n1 Deuereux, Ann, 363n44 Deuteronomy 21:10–13, 248–49 Dibdin, Thomas Frognall, 33–35 Aedes Althorpianae, 33–34 Diodorus, Siculus, 49 Bibliotheca historica, 47, 260, 274–75, 305n35 Dominican priory of Arundel, 216 doubleness in Caxton’s Eneydos, 240, 278, 283 of contradiction in “Myn Hert ys Set,” 119–21 in English culture, 240 of recognition and complicity, 240 reduction-multiplication relationship, 112–13, 118, 148, 173, 176, 184, 186 Russell’s, 238–40, 270, 283 Skelton’s, 265–69, 283 tension of, in Worthy Series, 208–12, 219–24 Douglas, Gavin Aeneid, 287 Eneydos, 285 Doyle, A. L., 106 Dritzehen, Andreas, 110 Dritzehen, George, 110 Duff, E. Gordon, 195, 313n52 A Century of the English Book Trade, 363n48 William Caxton, 306n1 Duffy, Eamon, 296 Duggan, Mary Kay, 296–97 Eastlake, Abbot, 48 Ebesham, William, 106, 335n41

economics. See also the press: economics of capital in construction of political authority, 82–90 capitalist mode of literary production, 18, 22, 82, 87, 102, 104–7, 111–14 of manuscript production, 108–9 trade relations, 82–90, 89f, 305n37, 320nn4, 9 Edward, Prince, 125, 199 Edward IV 1471 return to England, 201–4 Act for the Settlement of the Crown charges, 238–40 Bona of Savoy and, 83 claim to the throne, 125, 155, 180 literary culture in court of, 95 Lord Hastings and, 43 marriage to Elizabeth Woodville, 85, 125, 162, 238 mentioned, 237, 353n26 Northumberland and, 264 patronage, 162–63, 170f trade relations, Burgundy and France, 83–88 Woodville and, 168–71 Edwards, A. S. G., 44, 82, 185, 287, 289, 330n22, 339n3 “Literary Texts,” 285 Edward V, 125, 237, 238 Egremont, John, 263, 264, 265 Eisenstein, Elizabeth L.: The Printing Press as an Agent of Change, 107, 300n6 E. K.’s preface to Shephearde’s Calender, 286 Elizabeth, Queen of England, 30, 156, 168, 199 Elizabeth of York, 180–81, 195 Ellesmere manuscript, Canterbury Tales, 129–30 England, fifteenth-century doubleness in culture of, 240 as insular and romantic, 30 political society, 200–201

i n d e x 377

Kuskin Index

11/15/07

9:39 AM

Page 378

England, fifteenth-century (cont.) print in transforming, 3–5 social change in, 146–48, 201–7 trade relations, 82–90, 89f, 305n37, 320nn4, 9 Erler, Mary C., 10, 109, 183, 296 Everyman, 288–97 Fastolf, John, 160, 172–73, 179, 180 Fauconbourg’s rebellion, 162 Febvre, Lucien, 1, 18, 289 Fisher, John, 181, 183 The Fruytfull Saynges of Dauyd, 182 Fitzalan, William, Earl of Arundel, 156 Fitzwilliam, Countess (Olive), 32 fixity concept, 8 Foucault, Michel, 136, 335n43 fourme/forme, 82–90, 94–95, 106, 111–14, 147 Fradenburg, Louise, 225 France, trade relations, 82–90 Frankenberg, Henry, 317n77 Freccero, Carla, 225 Frederick II, 165 Free, John, 173, 180 Frisner, Andreas, 55 Froben, Johannes, 67, 69f Frontinus, Sextus Iulius: Strategemata, 176 Fust, Johannes, 51–52, 51f, 55, 65, 110–11, 214 De officiis, 237 Paradoxa, 237 Gascoigne, 265 Gaskell, Philip, 135 gender and literary production Chaucerian interest in, 24 Christine de Pizan, works of, 173–80 defining the individual through desire, 225–32 Dido traditions in the Eneydos, 240–41, 244–46, 251–57 Jerome’s equation of sensuality, 248–51, 255

378 i n d e x

George, Duke of Clarence, 168–69, 171, 180, 238 Gering, Ulrich, 317n78 Gerson, Jean: Imitatio Christi, 181–82 Getty, Paul II, 32–33, 36, 37–38 Gigliis, Johannes de, 215, 216, 242, 275, 278 Gigliis, Silvestro de, 275 Gill, Louise, 77, 304n27 to gloss/glossing, 59 Godfray, Thomas: The Workes of Geffray Chaucer Newly Printed, 126 Goes, Hugh, 16 Goldwell, James, 14 Gollancz, Israel, 350n12 Goodman, Jennifer R., 188–89 Gotz, Nicholus, 55 Meditationes vitae Christ, 53–54 Gossouin of Metz: Image du Monde, 311n26 Gower, John, 125, 181, 204 Confessio amantis, 17, 328n19 “In Praise of Peace,” 198 Mirour de l’Omme, 198 Grady, Frank, 350n12 Granton, John, 308n2 Greg, W. W., 330n22 Everyman, 288–97 Grey, Richard, 169, 264 Grosseteste, Robert, 137 guilds, 54, 77–78, 84, 108, 146–47, 320n6, 325n37 Guillory, John, 136 Cultural Capital, 117 Gutenberg, Johannes, 6–9, 110–11, 214 Catholicon, 94 Gutenberg Bible, 32, 37, 111 Hammond, Eleanor Prescott: “A Reproof to Lydgate,” 327n3 Han, Ulrich: Regulae cancellariae apostolicae, 52 Hanna, Ralph, 127 Harowe, John, 87

Kuskin Index

11/15/07

9:39 AM

Page 379

Harris, Kate, 108 Harriss, G. L., 204 “Political Society and the Growth of Government in Late Medieval England,” 200–201 Hastings, Lord ( William), 43 Heilmann, Andreas, 110 Hellinga, Lotte, 1, 32, 44, 54–55, 97, 330n22 The Cambridge History of the Book in Britain, 285–86 Hellinga, Wytze, 54, 55 Helmingham manuscript, Canterbury Tales, 133 Hengwrt manuscript, Canterbury Tales, 129–30 Henry, Prince, 274 Henry V, 93 Henry VI, 124, 195, 343n31 Henry VII advisors to, 237, 275 mentioned, 182, 195, 282, 353n26 monarchial power and the laureate system, 241, 272, 274–75, 276–77, 283 patronage, 156, 175 rebellions against, 241, 262–70, 276 Henry VIII, 282 heraldry, 58–62, 63–64f, 65 Herbert, William of Pembroke, 363n44 Herbort, Johannes, 237 Heywarde, scribe of Dictes and Sayings, 170–71, 170f Hicks, M. A., 180, 268 Hirsch, Rudolf, 335n42 Historie ancienne jusqu’à César, 243 Hoccleve, Thomas, 3, 22, 41 Regement of Princes, 24, 144 Holbein, Ambrose, 67, 69f Hornby, Henry, 182 Hornes, Philippe de, 54 Horobin, Simon, 117 Hospital of St. Mary Rounceval, Charing Cross, 215 Hughe, Inghelbert de la, 183, 185

Huizinga, Johan, 302n8 humanism, 236–37. See also vernacular humanism humility trope, 118–20, 156, 177, 261 Hundred Years War, 153, 179 Hunte, Thomas, 14, 76, 316n69 Compendium totius grammaticae, 75, 243 Epistolae, 243 Ethics, 243 Vulgaria quedam abs Terencio in Anglica[m] linguam traducta, 242–43 Hus, Matthias: La grante danse macabre des homes et des femmes, 44–46, 45f, 48 Huvain, Jean, 15 Hylton, Walter Epistle on the Mixed Life, 182 Lyf of Saynt Vrsula, 182 Scale of Perfection, 182 The Shyppe of Fooles, 182 identity. See also Caxton, William, identity/persona authorial, 18, 176–79, 282 books in defining, 32, 37–38 English, 32, 37–38, 75, 165, 195–97, 233–34 literary authority in producing, 258 political, of the nobility, 270 printer’s mark relationship to, 76, 79–80 the public vs. private self, 148 ideology, 26, 193–95 “I. H.” See Huvain, Jean imagination. See also archival imagination in ideology, 26 in the reader-book relationship, 1–2, 213, 298 shaping the cultural, 23, 194–95 Imray, J. M., 146 incunable, 300n6 Innocent VIII, 195 intellectual production, defined, 25

i n d e x 379

Kuskin Index

11/15/07

9:39 AM

Page 380

Isabeau of Bavaria, 163, 175 Isidore of Seville: Etymologies, 47 Jacqueline of Bavaria, wife of Duke Humphrey, 82 Jacquetta of Luxembourg, 163, 175 James, M. E.: “The Murder at Cocklodge,” 362n35 James I of Scotland: Kingis Quair, 272 Jansen, Maria, 327n3 Jenson, Nicolas, 7, 10, 316n69 Lectura super Clementinas, 65, 66f Lives, 237 Jerome, Epistle 70, 247–48 Johannes de Prodica, 165 John, Duke of Bedford, 163, 175 Johns, Adrian: The Nature of the Book, 300n6 Justin: Epitoma historiarum Philippicarum Pompei Trogi, 244 Kallendorf, Craig, 360n18 Kay, John: Siege of Rhodes, 74, 196, 214, 232–34 Keiser, George R., 56 Kelly, Douglas, 356n47 Kempis, Thomas à: Imitatio Christi, 182 Kendale, John, 215, 232 Kerling, N. J. M., 110 Knight, Charles: The Old Printer and the Modern Press, 306n1 Knight, Stephen, 349n3 knight bibliophiles, 164–65, 179–80 Knights of Rhodes, 215 Koelhoff, Johann the Elder, 53 labor print as the permanent record of, 46–47 of the printshop, 19, 49, 135, 335n41 writing as, 187 Lambeth Palace Library, Dictes and Sayings of the Philosophers manuscript, 162, 169, 170f, 172, 174 Lander, J. R., 155 Langley, Henry and Catherine, 214

380 i n d e x

language, Caxton, William on, 257–60, 279, 281 Large, Robert, 13, 29, 307n2, 318n80 Lathbury, John: Liber moralium super trenis Ieremiae, 75 Lathrop, Henry: “The First English Printers and Their Patrons,” 319n1 laureate system, 241, 258, 270–78, 283, 358n2 Lawton, David, 92 Le Clerc, Jehan, 42, 311n26 Leeu, Gerard of Antwerp: Vulgaria quedam abs Terencio in Anglica[m] linguam traducta, 242–43 Le Fèvre, Raoul, 99, 102 Histoire de Jason, 53, 95 History of Jason, 112, 194, 242 Recuyell of the Histories of Troye, 90–91, 96, 98f Lerer, Seth, 31, 139, 261–62, 272, 334n37, 339n1 Chaucer and His Readers, 121–22 Le Tailleur, Guillaume, 67, 71f Lettou, John, 14, 95 Abbreuiamentum statutorum, 195 indulgences, 196, 214, 232 Quaestiones super xii libros metaphysicae, 74 Siege of Rhodes, 196, 214, 232–34 Tenures, 195 Lewis, C. S., 329n20 Liber moralium philosophorum, 165 library/libraries, 31–39, 47–49, 163, 197 literary canon, English, 17, 20, 122–23, 136, 144, 286, 330n22 literary culture 15th- and 16th-century continuity, 4, 107–9, 236–37, 285–87 backward-looking aesthetic in, 125, 195 Eneydos’s role in construction, 242 modernity and, 4–5 narrowing of, 301n8 paternity metaphor in, 123–25 post-Chaucer, 121, 124–25, 156

Kuskin Index

11/15/07

9:39 AM

Page 381

print as unifying function over, 154 question of existence, 117, 121–22, 300n6 romance genre in, 30 self-reflective quality of, 5–6, 30–31, 41–43, 107, 121, 237, 239, 254 the vernacular, 44, 156, 182–85 Yorkist, 124 literary production. See also books, demand for; manuscript production; vernacular literary production Caxton on, 43–44, 46–47 commerce model, 18, 22, 82, 87, 102, 104–7, 111–14 consumption-production relationship in, 6, 20, 31–39, 43–44, 49, 61–62, 70, 76, 181–83, 189 contemporary understanding of, 39–41 danse macabre genre, 44–45 illustrations in, 41–42 morality plays, 288 romantic ideology of, 48–49 literary reproduction material and intellectual components, 19, 109–10 Retraction and the cycle of, 126–36 as social reproduction, 136–48 literary reproduction theory, 6, 13 literature, fifteenth-century English paradox of, 11–12, 121–22, 127 purpose of, 213 war and, 176, 178–80, 187, 247–48 Littleton, Thomas Tenores nouelli, 74 Tenures, 70, 195 Livre d’Eracles, 197 logic of reproduction, 10, 16, 134 Lomner, William, 124 London Mercers, letter of October 17, 1464, 82, 83, 85–86 Longuyon, Jacques: Les Voeux du Paon, 197, 198 Loomis, R. S., 198 Louis, Dauphin of France, 83 Louis de Bruges, 54, 197

Love, Nicholas: Speculum vitae Christi, 182–83 Lowry, Martin, 237 Lucas, Peter J., 339n3 Luke, Gospel of, 239–40 Lydgate, John Chaucerian inheritance, 3, 118–20 death of, 153 de la Pole and, 123 feminism and, 24, 188 mentioned, with Caxton, 16, 41, 48, 92, 102, 125 patrons of, 189 Skelton and, 272, 275 Lydgate, John, works of “Bochas,” 133 Canterbury Tales prologue, 123 Churl and Bird, 133, 328n19 demand for, 286 “Dietary,” 137 Fall of Princes, 286 The Horse, the Sheep and the Goose, 137, 144, 328n19 Life of Our Lady, 17, 328n19 newfangledness as term in, 204 Siege of Thebes, 120, 123, 134, 139, 144, 148–49, 246, 270, 286 Siege of Troy, 270 Stans puer ad mensam, 137, 328n19, 336n45 Temple of Glass, 328n19 “Timor Mortis Conturbat Me,” 198 Troy Book, 24, 93, 96, 148 Lyndewode, William: Constitutiones provincials ecclesiae Anglicanae, 75 Lynton, John, 215 MacCracken, Henry Noble, 327n3 Macherey, Pierre, 304n26 Machlinia, William de, 14, 67, 74, 76, 95, 195, 237 Abbreuiamentum statutorum, 195 indulgences, 196, 214 Innocent VIII’s papal dispensation, 195 Noua statuta, 195

i n d e x 381

Kuskin Index

11/15/07

9:39 AM

Page 382

Machlinia, William de (cont.) political and propagandistic imprints, 195–96 Promise of Matrimony, 74, 195 Siege of Rhodes, 74, 196, 214, 232–34 Tenures, 195 Treatise on the Pestilence, 74, 75 Vulgaria quedam abs Terencio in Anglica[m] linguam traducta, 242–43 Maggs, Bryan, 32 Mainz Psalter, 51–52, 51f, 55, 65, 111 Malory, Thomas, 266, 278 Le Morte D’Arthur, 15, 203–6, 208, 211, 212–13, 219–22, 340n6 Malviciis, Perseus de, 216 Mancinellus, Antonius: Donatus melior, 242 Manley, John, 132, 133, 134 Mansion, Colard, 50, 165, 315n63 De consolatione philosophiae, 54 De casibus virorum illustrium, 55 Ovide Moralisé, 54–55, 242 manuscript market Canterbury Tales, 127, 133 marketing and distribution in the, 301n6 sales prices, 212–13, 281–82 statistics, 10, 44, 108, 127 manuscript production. See also literary production Canterbury Tales, 127, 129–30 consumption-production relationship, 132–33 economics of, 108–9, 135, 281–82, 335n41 scribes in constructing authorial intent, 129–32 transitioning to print, 52, 106, 126–36, 173, 181 manuscripts books compared, 19–20 constructed nature of the text, 127–32, 128f Marchant, Guy: La grante danse macabre des homes et des femmes, 44

382 i n d e x

Margaret, Duchess of York, wife of Charles the Bold Caxton and,29,90–93,156, 189, 321n15 marriage, 88–89, 164 as patron, 92–93, 97–100, 98f, 101f, 156, 166, 189 Margaret, Queen of England, 199 Margaret of Anjou, 124, 162, 343n31 Margaret of Burgundy, 265 marketing Advertisement for the Ordinale ad usum Sarum, 82, 102, 104–7, 114 for Canterbury Tales, imprints, 136–37 development of, 17 manuscripts, 301n6 printer’s mark in, 31, 52, 55, 73 Worthies Series of romances, 348n1 Marotti, A. F., 108–9 Marston, Thomas E., 278 Martens, Thierry, 53 Martin, Henri-Jean, 1, 18, 289 Marx, Karl, 137 Master of Mary of Burgundy, 97, 99–100, 101f material production, defined, 25 Matthews, David, 33 Maydeston, Clement: Directorium sacerdotum, 317n78 Maynyal, Guillaume Legenda ad usum Sarum, 50, 110 Manuale ecclesiae Carnotensis, 317n78 Missale ad usum Sarum, 49, 110 Statua synodalia ecclesiae Carnotensis, 317n78 use of red rubrics, 315n63, 317n78 McFarlane, K. W., 179 McGann, Jerome: A Critique of Modern Textual Condition, 307n1 McKenzie, D. F., 78 McKerrow, R. B., 291f McLuhan, Marshall: The Gutenberg Galaxy, 301n6 McMurtrie, Douglas C., 313n48

Kuskin Index

11/15/07

9:39 AM

Page 383

Meale, Carol M., 82, 185, 339n3, 340n6, 354n32 Mentelin, Johann, 237 Mercers’ Company, 146 Mercers’ guild, 84, 320n6 Mercers’ letter of October 17, 1464, 82, 83, 85–86, 94–95 merchant adventurer, 320n5 Merchant Adventurers, 13, 77, 83–90, 84f, 320nn5–6 Meun, Jean de, 188 Meyers, Robin, 313n52 Mireur historial, 225 Mirk, John Festial, 75, 134 Mokhtâr el-Hikam (Abul’l Wefa Mubeschschir ben Fatik), 165 Monke of Bury. See Lydgate, John, works of monkey cup, 100, 103f monkeys, 98f, 100, 102 Mooney, Linne R., 117, 130 morality play, 288–97 Morgan, Paul: “The Caxton Legenda,” 314n53 Mowbray, Anne, 168 museums, housing books in, 38 mutability principle, 266, 269, 279 “Myn Hert ys Set” (anon.), 118–21, 123–24, 139, 160–61, 188, 246, 272, 327n3 Mystery of Stationers, 325n37 Needham, Paul, 6–8, 32, 94–95 “The Customs Rolls as Documents for the Printed-Book Trade in England,” 317n77 The Printer and the Pardoner, 25 Neve, John, 87 Neville, George, 180 Neville, Richard, Earl of Warwick, 83, 85, 87, 162, 171, 180, 201–2, 264 newfangledness, 204–6, 232, 266, 282, 351n21

Nine Worthies, 194, 197–203, 207–16, 220–23, 234. See also Caxton, William, Worthies Series of romances nobility. See also individual nobility appeal of Arthurian legend to, 348n2 authority of the, 162–65, 168–69, 199–206, 270 as book-collectors, 354n32 Caxton’s relationship with, 87–93, 102, 162, 278, 319n1, 321n15 language of the elite, 258 as patrons, 181–83, 185, 272, 274–75, 277, 283, 319n1 as readers, 19–20, 183, 196–97 Skelton’s charge of treason, 263, 265–68 Woodville’s relationship with the, 162–65, 168–69 Noir, Philippe le: Le livre des faits d’armes, 175 North, Elizabeth, 14, 74 Notary, Julian, 15 Origen: In Leviticum homilia, 249 Overey, William, 84–85 Ovid, 247, 255–57, 277 Ovide Moralisé, 54–55, 236, 242, 244, 246–51 Owen, Charles A., Jr., 129, 130, 333n34 Owen, Tudor, 171 Oxford group, 122 Oxford printer Exposicio sancti Ieronimi, 74, 316n72 Libri ethicorum, 74 Tractatus de peccato originali, 74 Paffroed, Richard: Compendium totius grammaticae, 243 Painter, George D., 50, 183, 313n52, 314n53, 353n26 “The Caxton Legenda,” 314n53 William Caxton, 307n1, 314n53, 319n1, 348n2 Parker, Alice, 181

i n d e x 383

Kuskin Index

11/15/07

9:39 AM

Page 384

Pask, Kevin, 126 Paston, John III, 124, 263, 265, 278 “Grete Booke,” 106, 335n41 Paston, William, 267 paternity/paternal legacy of authority, 152–53, 155 Chaucerian inheritance, 123–25, 138–39, 162, 167–68, 189 of class structure, 146–47 of the Lancastrian court, 171–72 symbolic construction of, 172 of the Yorkist court, 168–69, 171–72 patriarchy, 248–50 patronage. See also under specific names; women, literary authority of Caxton on, 53 defined, 155–56, 160, 339n3 illustrated, 98f, 101f, 170f, 171 literary culture producing, 189 as mass production, 180–90 of the poet laureate, 272, 274–75, 277, 283 printer-patron relationship, 185 producer-patron relationship, 98f, 99–102, 101f, 158–60, 180–81, 339n3 Patterson, Lee, 113, 205, 302n8, 350n12 “On the Margin: Postmodernism, Ironic History, and Medieval Studies,” 302n8 Pearsall, Derek, 44, 197, 301n8 Pen, Robert, 282 Percy, Henry, Earl of Northumberland, 241, 258, 260–72, 271f, 273f, 274f, 276, 281–82 persona. See also Caxton, William, identity/persona intersection with capital and authority, 82–90, 106 literary, models for the, 23 Petrarch, 272 Phalaris: Epistolae, 243 Philip the Good, 54, 82–83, 85, 88, 90, 124, 197 Pickering, Elizabeth: Magna Carta, 70 Pickering, John, 85

384 i n d e x

Pinkhurst, Adam, 130 Plato, 167 Plomer, Henry R., 313n52 William Caxton, 306n1 Plumpton, Robert, 263 Plutarch: Lives, 237–38 poet laureate, 233, 270–78, 283 Pole, Alice de la (neé Chaucer), 123, 149, 162, 189 Pole, Richard de la, 272 Pole, William de la, Duke of Suffolk, 122–24, 149, 160, 162, 272, 327n3 politics. See also authority: the political and literary joined of participation and appropriation, 201–7, 260–70 power of the press in, 154, 195 Pollard, Graham: “The English Market,” 319n1 Ponyngs, Edward, 215 Poulet, Quentin, 275 Powell, Susan, 181–83 Pratt, William, 8, 145, 156 Premierfait, Laurent de: Des cas des nobles homes et femmes, 244 the press. See also books; marketing 15th- to 16th-century development of, 107–9 alchemy of, 111–14, 118, 148 economics of —appropriation practices, 67–68, 70, 79 —competition, 53, 74–76, 195–96 —consumption-production relationship, 31–39, 43–44, 49, 61–62, 70, 76, 181–83, 189 —jobbing work, 214–16 —labor costs, 335n41 —manuscript production vs., 135 —new technology, 43 —paper costs, 335n41 —the printer’s mark, 52 —vernacular literary production, 74–75 —volume output, 17–18, 43, 46, 56, 135, 136, 212, 312n38, 335n42

Kuskin Index

11/15/07

9:39 AM

Page 385

manuscript production in the transition to, 52, 106, 126–36, 173, 181 representations of, 44–46, 45f, 48 successful, requirements for, 17–18 the press, Caxton’s. See also marketing; printer’s marks: Caxton’s color printing, 257, 315n63, 317n78 development of, 54 economic practices —capitalist mode of production, 18, 22, 82, 102, 104–7, 111–14 —competitive, 55, 75–76 —financial backing and patronage, 14–15, 43, 90–93, 156–58, 166, 181–82, 189, 194, 319n1, 321n15 —indulgences, printing of, 95–97, 194, 213–16 —investment in new technology, 43, 75, 135 —jobbing work, 214–16 —to reduce costs, 55 —volume output, 212 freedom of the compositor in, 129, 330n24 one-pull process of printing red rubrics, 315n63 political power of, 195 two-pull process used in, 43, 135, 317n78 in Westminster, 14, 16, 106, 340n6 print. See also books color, 58, 61, 62, 315n63, 317n78 defined by Caxton, 82 introduction of, 6–9 paradox of, 11–12, 73, 112–13 transformative nature of, 3–5, 9–10, 12, 111–14, 118 unifying function, 154 print culture, 4, 18, 296, 300n6 printer’s mark appropriations of, 52, 55, 65, 67–73, 68–69f, 70–73f, 185, 290–93, 291f, 292f authority of, 58–62, 65, 67, 78 Caxton’s —authority of, 78

—biographical detail in, 50, 313n52, 314n53 —in Book of Courtesy, 336n45 —development of, 31, 49–50 —layers of meaning in, 76–78 —texts used to introduce, 317n77 —Worde’s synthesis of, 67, 68f expanding use of, 55 forms and origins of, 51, 56, 62, 313n52, 314nn53–54 function of, 50, 79–80 Gotz’s, 53–54 identity imprinted through, 76, 79–80 Margaret’s portcullis gate, 185 orb and cross style, 65 shields used in, 62, 63–64f, 65, 290 Skot’s, 290–92, 291f statistics, 49, 313n48 use of post-1491/92, 76 value added through, 52, 55, 73, 78 print market. See also books, demand for 1450–1500 statistics, 2 1470s–1480s, 14, 15, 53, 74–76, 242 1490s, 76 English, Caxton in defining, 2–4 Richard III’s Parliamentary acts concerning, 15, 75–76 print production. See the press Purde, William, 15, 278 Purfoot, Thomas: Life and Death of Hector, 286 Pynson, Richard Abridgment des libres annales, 70 Canterbur