Thursday, June 17, 2010

Book curses

Mixing it up a little, I'm going to start including posts about research, including links to interesting finding. This was originally posted on my livejournal blog

I always knew that books were very valuable in period, but the discovery that clerks wrote in "book curses" against anyone who would steal a book amuses me. I glossed over the apparent used of it when I read Chaucer's "House of Fame"

Some examples I loved: 

"Whoever steals this book let him die the death; let be him be frizzled in a pan; may the falling sickness rage within him; may he be broken on the wheel and be hanged"

Placing Middle English in context By Irma Taavitsainen has a chapter where she discuses the use of the genre.

Anathema!: Medieval Scribes and the History of Book Curses‎ by Marc Drogin, apparently also discusses it.

"Whoever Alters This, May God Turn His Face from Him on the Day of Judgment": Curses in
Anglo-Saxon Legal Documents by Brenda Danet and Bryna Bogoch
The Journal of American Folklore, Vol. 105, No. 416 (Spring, 1992), pp. 132-165

Author, Scribe, and Curse: the Genre of "Adam Scriveyn" by Glending Olson.
The Chaucer Review v. 42 no. 3 (2008) p. 284-97

"Bibliomania and the Medieval Book Curse" by Sandra Anderson, March 2003
Anderson's works cited--

This site even has awsome graphics someone drew:

And now you can even buy one for your personal library: