Visual Translation in Fifteenth-Century English Manuscripts

Richard K. Emmerson

in Medieval Poetics and Social Practice

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print June 2012 | ISBN: 9780823243242
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780823243280 | DOI:

Series: Fordham Series in Medieval Studies (FUP)

Visual Translation in Fifteenth-Century English Manuscripts

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This essay suggests that a painting or illustration is an appropriate and important place from which to begin speaking about poetics and narrative; that indeed, so many visual or otherwise nonverbal elements of a culture can be the right place from which to start speaking of textuality. As Emmerson puts it, the manuscript image “visually translates” its accompanying text, and this creative and interpretive activity must form part of our understanding of the creation and reception of late-medieval texts. Reading an illustrated fifteenth-century Pilgrimage of the Soul manuscript (an English translation of Guillaume de Deguileville's French original), Emmerson shows how illustration can foreground a text's most important themes by anticipating, delaying, manipulating, and otherwise energetically interacting with the textual narrative.

Keywords: Visuality; translation; Manuscripts; Illustration; medieval; Deguileville; poetics

Chapter.  7182 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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