A Festschrift in Honour of A.V.C. Schmidt
Edited By Nicolas Jacobs and Gerald Morgan
Punctuation in the B Version of Piers Plowman
← 4 | 5 → J.A. BURROW
Thorlac Turville-Petre and I have set out to reconstruct, for the Piers Plowman Electronic Archive, the text of the archetypal copy from which, we believe, all surviving copies of Piers Plowman B descend. One feature of our edition is that every line of the poem is accompanied by transcripts of the line as it stands in ten most important copies: L, M, Cr, W, Hm, G, O and C from the beta branch, together with both the alpha manuscripts, R and F.1 These transcripts display punctuations as well as readings, so – with the exception of Cr (Crowley’s print), which follows more modern practice – they provided the evidence upon which we punctuated the archetypal text. The manuscripts generally have just three kinds of pointing, which I take in turn here: paraphs to mark off sections, signs to mark the caesuras, and end-line breaks.
Study of the paraphs in B is greatly facilitated by Benson and Blanchfield’s study The Manuscripts of ‘Piers Plowman’: the B-Version, for their comprehensive Table of Manuscript Annotations sets out to record, among other things, every line in every B manuscript that has a paraph sign and also all those that have ‘guide marks, including blank spaces, for paraph signs’ where the rubricator has subsequently failed to supply them.2 The distribution of these in Benson’s Table may at first sight suggest nothing more than a random scatter; but in fact, as Rob Adams observed in his review of the book,...
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