Thursday, October 23, 2008

Happy Cotton Library Day!

Happy Cotton Library Day! On this day in 1731, the Cotton Library in the ironically-named Ashburnham House burned down, destroying and damaging many medieval English manuscripts, so it is my custom in medieval lit classes on this day to celebrate -- er, celebrate the books that survived the fire, not the ones that burned.

Today in class we'll have food, medieval music, and try to solve some riddles. I'm coming dressed in my Anglo-Saxon garb. Tomorrow night, the Medieval Club is having a party in the Arboretum, which will be a medieval-themed costume party, complete with medieval dances. If you're in Troy tomorrow, come join us!

So ... what's your favorite text that survived the fire? If you aren't sure, basically they are the ones with the shelfmark Cotton (Roman Emperor) followed by numbers. For example, the Beowulf manuscript is Cotton Vitellius A.xv. Tell us your favorite!


  1. Oh, noes, I forgot! We even had Old English Reading Group today, and didn't mark the occasion at all :(

    My favourite Cotton manuscript OUGHT to be Cotton Nero A.i, the one with the final version of the Sermo Lupi. And I *am* very fond of it. It has the personal handwriting of Archbishop Wulfsan in it.

    But I just wrote a thesis on the blasted thing, so right now my favourite Cotton MS is Cotton Nero A.x, the Gawain/Pearl manuscript. Because Gawain is my drug of choice, when it comes to Avoiding Wulfstan.

  2. Well, its obvious and I'm sure I'm not the only one, but....Cotton Vitellius A.xv of course, the survivor of Cotton's slapping together of things, and *2* fires, including this one.

  3. Looking sharp in that "Anglo-Saxon garb."

  4. Cotton Vitellius A.xv has to be my favorite--though not only for Beowulf--Judith and Wonders of the East are also marvelous texts. Plus (as already noted), it's had amazing resiliency for all the wear, tear, fire, and ink applied to it.

    Cotton Nero A.i is definitely a close second, though, with all those other wonderful OE works of Wulfstan.

  5. I'll be predictable. Given I've just completed a year of intensively studying Gawain and am more in love with it than ever... definitely Nero A.x.