Book Series Studies and Texts, vol. 138

John Capgrave

Life of Saint Augustine by John Capgrave

edited from British Library Additional MS 36704 together with Jordanus of Saxony's {Vita s. Augustine} from Bibliothèque de l'Arsenal, MS 251

Cyril L. Smetana (ed)

  • Pages: 138 p.
  • Size:160 x 235 mm
  • Language(s):English, Latin, English
  • Publication Year:2001

  • ISBN: 978-0-88844-138-6
  • Hardback
  • Available


This edition of Capgrave's {Life of St Augustine} is found in a unique ME manuscript, BL Addit. 36704, written about 1451. This diplomatic transcription expands Capgrave's abbreviations and includes modern punctuation, capitalization, word-division and paragraph breaks. Further, the extensive glossary makes the edition accessible to readers whose knowledge of ME may be elementary. The volume also includes an edition of Jordanus's autograph copy of the {Vita} (Paris, Bibl. de l'Arsenal, MS 251), which allows for a detailed study of Capgrave's methods of translation - at times word-for-word, at others allowing scope for omission, digression, expansion and the inclusion of local colour and relevant exempla. The bibliography includes the most recent studies of Capgrave, whose work is enjoying a revival because of the unusual number of extant autograph MSS in his corpus, and also because of his evident interest in a female readership (reflected not only in this work but in his {Life of St Katharine}), a manifestation of the rise of literate lay women in the fifteenth century. Capgrave's {Life} provides a detailed and very human representation of Augustine, his friends, and his formidable mother, Monica. This volume will also be of interest to those who are studying Capgrave's language; because the manuscript is an autograph and is also corrected with evident care by Capgrave himself. It provides rare evidence for the language of King's Lynn, Norfolk, in an age when the London dialect was beoming 'received standard'. The edition's introduction provides basic information about Capgrave's own life and the body of his work; a description of the MS and of Capgrave's language; a consideration of his alterations made to his main source - Jordanus of Saxony's {Vita s. Augustini} - evidently in order to make the text more attractive to the 'gentill woman' at whose request he prepared the life.