The Making of Thomas Hoccleve’s ‘Series’
Thomas Hoccleve’s Series (1419-21) tells the story of its own making. The Making of Thomas Hoccleve’s Series analyzes this story and considers what it might contribute to the larger story about book production in the fifteenth century. Focusing on four surviving manuscripts made by Hoccleve himself between 1422 and 1426, the first four chapters explore the making of the Series in context. They examine the importance of audience judgment in the selection and juxtaposition of forms, the extent to which the physical flexibility of books could serve the needs of their owners and their makers, the changing tastes of fifteenth-century readers, and the appetite for new paradigms for reform in head and members. The final chapter analyzes the most important non-authorial copy of the Series in order to ask what others made of it. While this study draws on Hoccleve’s experience, it asserts that the Series offers a reflection on, not a reflection of, his conception of book production. The ironic contrast between what Hoccleve’s narrator intends and accomplishes when making his book is its most redeeming feature, for it provides insight into the many conflicting pressures that shaped the way books were made and imagined in early fifteenth-century England.
Subjects: Language & Literature
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