The Aura of the Letter: Cornelis Crul's ABC Poem in BL Sloane MS 1174 and sixteenth-century views on form and content

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Abstract

This essay focuses on the aura of the letter. It discusses eight different incarnations of one sixteenth-century alphabet poem in manuscript and print, comparing the presentation of the initials at the beginning of each stanza to clarify the relationship between aura and bibliographic code. How is aura materialized in each of these versions, what changes -if any- do occur to the layout of the text, and how might they be explained? Answering these questions will shed light on sixteent-century views on the relation between form and content. I argue that the decorated versions of this poem either fit in with a larger, theological-poetical discourse on language and creation, or with a more pragmatic, educational discourse on penmanship. The plain versions, on the other hand, bear witness to a mind-set in which an elaborate layout is considered superfluous or even suspect, because it obscures the moral value of the text.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Aura of the Word in the Early Age of Print (1450-1600)
EditorsS. Mareel, J. Buskirk
Place of PublicationNew York and London
PublisherRoutledge
Pages151-179
Number of pages29
Publication statusPublished - 2016
EventThe Aura of the Word in the Early Age of Print (1450-1600) - London
Duration: 13 Sep 201215 Sep 2012

Conference

ConferenceThe Aura of the Word in the Early Age of Print (1450-1600)
Period13/09/1215/09/12

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