local_library vision of the scribes

by Gerard Beirne

Published in Issue No. 176 ~ January, 2012

Vision of the Scribes at Work on a Vision of Hell

Scribe A working his pen at a slant (to judge from the endings of his descenders)
His script showing a strong sense of the perpendicular (in spite of a slight tendency

for his vertical strokes to slope to the right). More calligraphic than accurate.
Almost every page of his work marred by errors, pointed out and corrected.

For example the word ‘cynericu’ to ‘cynerice’ (in vol.64v of the edition)
with the ‘e’ written in subscript. Other readings too requiring alteration:

in ‘hie onbryhton,’ 1. 12, mistaking, as subject, ‘hie’ the verb’s indirect
object. The frequency (in dim light, by way of explanation) of dittographic

errors: ‘gesawe’, fol.69r, 1. 3, written twice, the second deleted in revision.
Scribe A with lesser skills than Scribe B (perhaps a student under supervision).

The interchanges of Hand A to Hand B within the homilary, a ratio of five to one.
Hand B’s appearance in the middle (both scribes clearly in the same scriptorium)

of the folios, relieving A from time to time. Hand B writing the Incipits and Explicits.
A vision of hell opening and closing, all the better to tell, by the more experienced scripts.

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Gerard Beirne is an Irish writer now living in Canada. His most recent collection of poetry Games of Chance: A Gambler’s Manual was published by Oberon Press, Fall 2011. He has published two novels. His short story Sightings of Bono was adapted into a short film featuring Bono (U2)