Medieval Latin Texts in the Age of Printing

Paolo Chiesa

in The Oxford Handbook of Medieval Latin Literature

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780195394016
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 Medieval Latin Texts in the Age of Printing

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  • Classical Studies
  • Classical Reception
  • Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)


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The introduction of movable type printing had revolutionary consequences for the production and circulation of literary texts. The replacement of a manual with a mechanical process for book reproduction immediately brought long-term mechanisms and methods into play, and laid the groundwork for a series of radical transformations. Latin texts composed during the middle Ages were inevitably caught up in these transformations. This article offers an account of the uneasy and sometimes belated passage of medieval Latin texts into the medium of print, and their eventual transformed emergence in modern critical editions. A brief census of medieval Latin works printed in the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries is quite instructive. It provides a snapshot of the book market's interests in terms of medieval Latin works, since the selections made by editors and printers were commercially driven. The works that became available to libraries in printed form indicate which among them made the greatest contribution to the shaping of subsequent centuries. The specific circumstances as well as the most important consequences affecting them are examined, both immediately and over the course of the following centuries.

Keywords: medieval Latin texts; printing; literary texts; modern critical editions; revolutionary consequences

Article.  9896 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Classical Reception ; Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)

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