Technique and Technology: Script, Print, and Poetics in France, 1470-1550

Literary studies cannot neglect the study of books, the physical objects through which literary texts are transmitted. Book form is especially relevant to the literature of the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, which saw the crucial shift from manuscript to print in Western Europe. This book examines manuscripts and printed editions of three major French writers of this key period: Jean Molinet, Jean Lemaire de Belges and Jean Bouchet. Presentational features which influence the reading of poems, such as layout, illustration, anthologization and paratext, are analysed. The development of these features reflects a gradual change in the ways in which literary self-consciousness is manifested. In earlier texts, produced within an essentially manuscript culture, poets' creative investment in their work is exhibited primarily as formal virtuosity. As printing becomes dominant, such virtuosity tends to be rejected in favour of self-commentary and an apparently more personal discourse.