Books in Transition: results

1. A thorough material study of the physical books is essential in reconstructing the genesis and later phases of a text or a collection of texts.

This is particularly borne out by case study no. 1 (the letter collection of Anselm of Canterbury), no. 2 (The Vita Henrici Quinti of Tito Livio Frulovisi) and no. 5 (the Mirabilia Urbis Romae). Case study no. 1 has confirmed that Anselm of Canterbury or somebody under his supervision made an edition, not just collected and copied the letters, and that it was on this edition that the copies of the letter collection were made of. This is an important breakthrough in Anselmian studies and a departure from earlier findings and hypotheses. Case study no. 2, where as many as two autographs could be drawn upon, showed that the first humanist Life of Henry V was essentially received as a work on English history, not as a humanist text: apart from the autographs, the dedication copy to Henry VI and the copy of Frulovisi's patron, Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, it circulates in copies with texts on English history, written in the Gothic script and showing no humanist influence whatsoever. The use made of the text in slightly later British historiography confirms this finding. This is an important point as regards the history of humanism in England. Case study no. 5 showed that the extraordinary success of the printed Mirabilia urbis Romae at the end of the fifteenth century and the beginning of the sixteenth century was based on the handy format octavo adopted in popular manuscripts churned out especially for Transalpine consumption in the fifteenth century, and that the octavo format conditioned especially the paratextual elements, such as illustrations, in the printed version. Importantly, the octavo format was also transmitted into the typology of the modern city guide-book that started developing out of the archaeologically updated humanist guides of Rome of the Renaissance that took the place of the Mirabilia towards the middle of the sixteenth century. This is again an important new finding in research on the Mirabilia.

2) As regards the changes in the material characteristics, the project produced important information on the role the manuscript book late into the age of printing. Both case study no. 1 (Anselm of Canterbury) and case study no. 8 (Claude de Saumaise), brought out the importance of manuscript copies of printed (editions of Anselm) and non printed (the original Latin Ars militaris of Saumaise and its French version) texts in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, especially for circulation among scholars. The same aspect was borne out by the papers given at the Dal libro manoscritto al libro stampato colloquium organised by the project with partners in Rome in 2009 (acts published in Spoleto in 2010). The hypothesis presented in the research plan, i.e. that the format, apart from the passage from the print, would not experience drastic changes, was thus confirmed beyond expectations. This is one more point in favour of integrated book history, such as represented by this project, not separating the study of the printed book from that of the manuscript book, and thus an important theoretical finding.

3) As regards the marginal annotations, and more generally paratextual elements, in the corpus of the project, it is especially case study no. 2 and case study no. 9 that have brought interesting new information about the genesis of the works studied and thus significantly contributed to the development of the research field. Two seminars organised by the project together with the Finnish Book Historical Society in 2010 on Paratexts explored the role of these elements not only in the corpus of the project but also in other texts.