On Islands, Part 1, and … Listology celebrates its first anniversary!

Oxford, Bodleian Library MS Tanner 407, f. 37v
Reproduced with permission of the Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford

by Martha Rust

Sometime in the fifteenth century, one Robert Reynes of Acle of the county of Norfolk devoted a page in his commonplace book to two lists having to do with islands.[1]This post is about the first of those lists, which enumerates a series of facts and figures concerning Reynes’ native island, Great Britain. Continue reading “On Islands, Part 1, and … Listology celebrates its first anniversary!”

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All in the Family: Genealogical Lists in Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Canon. Class. Lat. 9

by Amanda Gerber

Where should one draw the line between a content list for a mythological history and a genealogical tree for one? When created in reference to Ovid’s Metamorphoses, both include the same names, the same chronological order, and the same interest in organizing events according to the people who enacted them. Continue reading “All in the Family: Genealogical Lists in Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Canon. Class. Lat. 9”

Creative Lists in J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings – Part III

by Rahel Orgis

In my previous post, I highlighted that Tolkien introduces the appendices to The Lord of the Rings as based on pseudo-factual records collected by hobbits. The same goes for the main narrative, which, according to the Prologue, “is drawn mainly from the Red Book of Westmarch” (I, 23): that is, the account of the novel’s events “as seen by the Little People” (III, 307), compiled primarily by the hobbit protagonists Bilbo and Frodo Baggins. The Prologue further explains that, being involved in these momentous events, hobbits took “a more widespread interest in their own history,” leading them to compile for the first time “their traditions” (I, 23). Continue reading “Creative Lists in J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings – Part III”

Creative Lists in J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings – Part II

by Rahel Orgis

In last month’s post I argued for the centrality of lists in Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, discussing how the lists in the opening poem both encapsulate the narrative’s core interest and call for further narrative development. In this post I turn to the appendices following the third part of the novel, in which Tolkien interweaves prose sections with lists to organize and condense an extensive amount of information. Tolkien’s rich fictional universe, including beings like elves, dwarves, humans and the small human-like hobbits, is arguably one of the reasons for the continuing fascination of his work, which, in the twentieth century, figured among the most-read books worldwide. Continue reading “Creative Lists in J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings – Part II”

Lists of Luxury: Ivory Objects in the Household Inventories of Late Medieval French Nobility

Fig. 1. Paris, Musée du Louvre. OA 122. Perceval casket. Paris, France, c.1310–30. Source: © Réunion des musées nationaux

by Katherine Sedovic

In late medieval France, luxurious objets d’art served as tangible records of wealth and social status. Objects that could be considered utilitarian, such as mirror cases, combs, and trinket-sized boxes (erroneously known as caskets), became lavish exemplars of their owners’ power, wealth, and social prestige when rendered in the sought-after and costly medium of elephant ivory. Continue reading “Lists of Luxury: Ivory Objects in the Household Inventories of Late Medieval French Nobility”

Creative Lists in J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings – Part I

by Rahel Orgis

Lists of various types are at the centre of J. R. R. Tolkien’s novel The Lord of the Rings and, tightly bound up with the narrative, they serve as creative tools that both sustain and generate the fictional universe of Middle-earth. While readers might not immediately notice their importance, lists pervade the text, both framing the narrative—in the guise of a motto and in the appendices following the third part of the novel—and occurring within the narrative proper. Tolkien presents readers with a fiction of the novel’s composition that motivates the lists in the appendices and uses them to give substance, historical depth and an impression of authenticity to his fictional universe. Continue reading “Creative Lists in J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings – Part I”

Medieval Lists of the Dead: What Are They and Who Reads Them?

by Laura Moncion (University of Toronto)

The premodern period was full of lists, as many of this blog’s previous entries have shown. Medieval monasteries in particular, as the bureaucratic centres of medieval Western Europe, produced and dealt with a large number of lists: the monastic hours of each day, calendars of saints’ days, monastic rules and customaries, charters, profession and patronage records, and many others. Among these types of monastic lists are lists of the dead, including the monastic necrology and liber vitae (book of life), both types of lists intended to memorialize the deceased members of a monastic community. Continue reading “Medieval Lists of the Dead: What Are They and Who Reads Them?”

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