Denys the Carthusian (Dionysius Cartusiensis, 1402-1471) was probably the most prolific writer of the Middle Ages. His writings embrace every genre of medieval religious literature (scriptural, scholastic, mystical, monastic, pastoral, juridical, apologetic). Moreover, his extensive citation and quotation of authors and texts cover the whole Christian tradition up to his time. Indeed, as an old adage states, "He who reads Denys the Carthusian, reads everything".
Denys' writings were hastily and uncritically edited by Carthusians in Cologne in the sixteenth century in order to promote the Counter-Reformation; these texts were presented again, in more modern format, in the edition of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Denys' works have never been edited critically, nor have his extensive sources ever been indicated in an apparatus fontium. The volumes of the Bibliotheca manuscripta Jay the historical, documentary and manuscript foundation for a critical edition, likewise a work never before performed. Volume 1A includes a study of Denys the Carthusian and his books, a discussion of manuscript description, presentation and critical analysis of the original bibliographical sources (manuscript and early printed editions), an inventory of the extant manuscripts of authentic works, a new Elenchus of Denys' writings with a repertory of manuscripts for each work, Incipit registers that includes Denys' nearly 700 sermons, and an inventory and repertory of lost or destroyed manuscripts containing writings by Denys. Volume 1B contains studies of the transmission of each of the titles spuriously attributed to Denys the Carthusian. There are accompanied by repertories of the surviving manuscripts of these works, and many complete textual and codicological descriptions or generous notices of manuscripts. The materials of the volumes are thoroughly indexed. The Bibliotheca manuscripta not only establishes the authentic corpus of Denys' writings and discovers the sources for an edition; because the work casts a wide net, it also presents a wealth of information for all those interested in late medieval religious and manuscript culture.
These volumes will be followed by a catalogue giving full descriptions of each of the surviving manuscripts of authentic works. The critical edition of Denys' texts, directed by Kent Emery, Jr., will follow the surviving manuscript evidence, and will represent each aspect of this many sided writer.