We begin the week with a look at a fragment of an epic poem that had been thought to be lost and an address book that smashed everyone’s expectations at auction.
Fragment of 12th Century Epic Poem That Was lost Found in Book Binding
A fragment of a 12th Century French poem written by Guillaume d’Orange, which it was believed had been lost forever, has been found in the archive of the Bodleian Library at University of Oxford. It was believed by scholars that such a work about the poet and the siege of his city was in existence somewhere, but they thought it must have been lost.
An academic from Queen Mary’s University of London was conducting research into the subject of book reuse during the 16thcentury when she discovered the fragment. There are only 47 lines on the fragment which proves that a longer poem existed at some point.
The poem is set in the reign of Charlemagne’s son, Louis the Pious, who lived during the ninth century. However, it is believed to have been written late in the 12th century. The fragment is believed to be a copy that was made in the late 13th century in England.
During the search, a fragment of parchment from Roman de Tristan by Beroul was uncovered, which recounts the story of Tristan and Iseult. This is a poem from the 12th century and one of the earliest medieval romances in existence. There is an incomplete manuscript in the Bibliotheque Nationale in France which is dated to the 13th century, but this fragment again shows that the poem must have been more widely circulated than scholars had previously thought.
The majority of this “manuscript waste” that is found in books from 16th Century is written in Latin and is usually of a philosophical or theological nature. Finding fragments of this nature is much more unusual. Both of the found fragments were verse written in French. A team was set up to identify the fragments properly as the scholar who found them didn’t speak much French. The discovery has helped to fill in some gaps in the knowledge that scholars have of some of the poetry of this time.
It will now be the job of the team to try and work out where and when the fragments were copied and how they were the included in the binding of a book created in 1528 – if they were reused in this way it is believed that they held no value at the time as works of literature and were only valuable for the parchment they were written on.
Auction Estimates Smashed by Address Book
An address book belonging to the eccentric poet Dame Edith Sitwell has fetched a staggering £52,500 at auction having been given a guide price of just £200 – £300. The book shows hints of the poet’s character and includes notes next to many of the addresses detailing exactly what she thought of each individual.
The item was part of a sale of a number of items from the poet’s family home which has recently been put up for sale by her brother’s grandson, the restaurant critic William Sitwell.