Edited and translated by Susanna Fein with David Raybin and Jan Ziolkowski
London, British Library MS Harley 2253 is one of the most important literary books to survive from the English medieval era. In rarity, quality, and abundance, its secular love lyrics comprise an unrivaled collection. Intermingled with them are additional treasures for the student of Middle English: contemporary political songs as well as delicate lyrics designed to inspire religious devotion. And digging beyond these English gems, one readily discovers more prizes—less-well-known ones—in French and Latin: four fabliaux (the largest set from medieval England), three lives of Anglo-Saxon saints, and a wealth of satires, comedies, debates, interludes, collected sayings, conduct literature, Bible stories, dream interpretations, and pilgrim guides. Rich in texts in three languages, the book’s overall range is quite astounding. The Ludlow scribe, compiler and copyist, shows himself to have been a man of unusual curiosity, acquisitiveness, and discerning connoisseurship.