Introduction: The Medieval Manuscript Matrix: A Storied Realm

  • Martha Dana Rust
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)


Apopular medieval song about the Annunciation, “Angelus ad virginem,” stresses the privacy of the meeting between Gabriel and the Virgin in its opening lines, “Stealing into her room, the angel to the virgin said, ‘Hail, Hail queen of virgins,’” softening her fear [Angelus ad virginem/subintrans in conclave/virginis formidinem/demulcens inquit ave/Ave regina virginum].1 An image of the angelic messenger’s visit on folio 23 verso in the Beaufort or Beauchamp Hours (Royal Annunciation, figure 1.1) conveys that privacy especially well, for the scene appears to be set in an intimate niche recessed “within” its parchment surface.2 The artist has achieved this effect by framing the image with an illusionistic architectural structure, complete with stone canopy and dais-like base that seem to jut out from the page. Since the floor of the apparently recessed room has been painted all the way to the inner edge of the frame’s seemingly protruding base, the room appears to communicate with a narrow exterior platform, along the edges of which two figures kneel at prie-dieux, each holding an open book. The two figures, thought to be portraits of the book’s patrons, look up from their prayer books to attend to the blessed event.


Open Book Imaginary World Marginal Commentary Sample Tale Physical Book 
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  1. 15.
    Martin Heidegger, “Building Dwelling Thinking,” in Basic Writings: From Being and Time (1927) to The Task of Thinking (1963), ed. David Farrell Krell, rev. and exp. edn. (San Francisco: Harper San Francisco, 1993), pp. 355–56 [347–63].Google Scholar
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  5. Additional studies that pertain to this kind of reading experience include Victor Nell, Lost in a Book: The Psychology of Reading for Pleasure (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988);Google Scholar
  6. Richard J. Gerrig, Experiencing Narrative Worlds: On the Psychological Activities of Reading (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1993);Google Scholar
  7. Ellen J. Esrock, The Reader’s Eye: Visual Imaging as Reader Response (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1994).Google Scholar
  8. For discussions of these and other studies of textual worlds as well as their relationship to virtual worlds, see Marie-Laure Ryan, Narrative as Virtual Reality: Immersion and Interactivity in Literature and Electronic Media (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001), pp. 89–99.Google Scholar
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    In a selection of scribes’ “final jingles” collected by Lynn Thorndike, forms of both scribere and facere occur (“More Copyists’ Final Jingles,” Speculum 31 [1956]: 321–28); see also Dennis E. Rhodes’s study of uses of the verb facere in compositors’ colophons in early printed books, “On the Use of the Verb ‘facere’ in Early Colophons,” Studies in Bibliography 26 (1973): 230–32.Google Scholar
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© Martha Dana Rust 2007

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