Eckhardt and Smith 2014

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Eckhardt, Joshua and Daniel Starza Smith, eds. Manuscript Miscellanies in Early Modern England. Burlington: Ashgate, 2014.

Introduction: The Emergence of the English Miscellany

“Early modern books carried miscellaneous contents as regularly as bags and boxes did. Yet books have done a better job of keeping their diverse contents intact than have most other containers. Their producers clearly designed many of them to hold an array of texts: extracts from several authors; complete works in multiple genres; writing in a number of languages; even multimedia combinations of text, illustration, manuscript, and print. Later owners and users could turn originally uniform books into miscellanies as well, by inscribing additional texts in them or binding them with other books. Amending and combining books must have made people quite familiar with volumes that contained a range of texts and served more than one purpose. Indeed, the act of acquiring an early modern text regularly involved deciding whether or not to include it, or part of it, in a commonplace book, anthology, composite manuscript, sammelband , stack of papers, or other collection. Thus in early modern England, the books that scholars have come to call miscellanies must have seemed ubiquitous and, therefore, rather unremarkable.” (1)

often not called miscellanies but miscellanea, from miscere, to mix

challenges to reading them:

development of “miscellany” to describe mixed collection, not organized under headings, in 1610s, 1620s — most printed avoided term “miscellany,” preferring to list poetic genres, following Tottel — connections to anthologies, garlands, nosegays

1656 anthology by Abraham Wright, combines “poetick miscellany” with older idea of slips of flowers — start of wider use of “miscellanies” as name for multi-author compilations

Tottel had emphasized “songs and sonnets,” not called “Tottel’s miscellany” until 19c, when miscellanies referred to printed collections

mid 20c, scholars tended not to refer to manuscript collections as “miscellanies” — in 90s, word became very common

Before (and after) the Miscellany: Reconstructing Donne’s Satyres in the Conway Papers, by Daniel Starza Smith

“The manuscript miscellany was not born fully formed. A miscellany’s compilers gathered material from a range of different sources and textual traditions and copied or bound them into a single volume over a period of time, as and when their source material became available. Their sources usually included single sheets, small gatherings of related texts, and shorter booklets of texts. However, the moment of anthologization did not always mark the end of a text’s lifespan: once collected into a miscellany, single texts and groups of texts were frequently copied out of these volumes to be recirculated in other, often shorter, bibliographical formats. A miscellany can therefore record not only the final resting place of a passage of verse, prose, or drama, but also a transitional phase in its development as a transcribed text. This chapter seeks to reconsider notions of miscellaneity by examining the circulation of a miscellany’s constituent parts, using that analysis to understand more broadly the nature of the separates and fascicles (short booklets or gatherings) that formed a vital component in the production of a miscellany.” (17)

“manuscript separate” as preceding miscellany, which “could act as a longer-term storehouse for various kinds of writing” (17)

Conway Papers: no ms miscellanies but “thousands of separates and gatherings of individual manuscripts”

Love 1998 defines separate as bifolium with verse on 1-3 sides (last usually left blank for an address), maybe up to 3 sheets queried or stab-sewn, but more than that is ms book; usually contains single piece of writing but may also include linked group of texts — more variation than that and its a “compilation”

Donne, Rhapsody, and Textual Order, by Piers Brown

was Donne haphazard with his poems or a careful transcriber/editors? Brown argues we don’t need to think in terms of this dichotomy

“At the root of the problem is the question of how we conceive order in poetic collections.” (40)

Donne describing himself as rhapsoder in rags — “rhapsody as a description of the process of gathering and ordering poetry, which designates a set of related but distinctive scribe and scholarly practices by which texts were arranged and rearranged in relation to each other. In particular, I argue that this offers us a way to understand the relationship between poems circulating in separates and poems that have been gathered and organized in poetic collections of various sorts, as well as the parallels between these processes and scholarly note-taking and reuse.” (41)

rhapsodia, “song-stitching” — selecting and joining pieces of poetry for performance in ancient Greek — in use in Renaissance; Philemon Holland

Donne — worried about rhapsoder as just shoveling together a mass of materials without meaning

example of Folger X.d.580 — several fascicles stitchd together — “not a neat poetic miscellany but one of the many hybrid volumes that survive from the period” (43); 5 differentt sorts of “compilatory order”: 1) pragmatic scribal activity, 2) abbreviated version of authorial sequence, 3) order of list of verses, 4) sequence of legal texts, 5) social organization of the ms

“Rhapsody, as this example suggests, has a dual character: it is a process in which the intentions of authors, scribes, and readers intersect with he obdurate materiality of texts; and it is also a distinctive material form, the recognizable product of that process.” (44)

Donne, rags, paper, scraps of sense — raggedness, wholeness

patchwork, cento

provisional nature of rhapsody — “no order to the texts and excerpts tacked together, but that the texture of the work is uneven, even when the process of printing had hidden the sewing which originally joined them. If this characteristic was to be eliminated, the source texts would have had to be broken down more carefully and fully reconstituted, like rags made into paper.” (47)

“rhapsody is conceptually useful when discussing compilation because it offers us an early modern term that bridges the gap between the haphazard miscellany and the orderly anthology, suggesting a text deliberately composed from, and to some extent shaped by, the ragged pieces available to the compiler. Its patchwork logic poses an alternative to the modern poetics of coherence, in which the order of pieces in poetry and short story collections (as well as musical albums) are considered and reconsidered by authors, editors, and critics.” (55)