Medieval manuscripts blog

Bringing our medieval manuscripts to life

06 March 2024

Chaucer at the Bodleian

The British Library is delighted to be a lender to the exhibition Chaucer Here and Now at the Bodleian Library in Oxford. The exhibition runs until 28 April 2024 and is free to visit, so don't delay!

On display in the introductory section is our manuscript of the Prologue of the Wife of Bath's Tale, with marginal annotations by the scribe giving their own (misogynistic) commentary on the text. The accompanying label not surprisingly titles this 'Mansplaining', and it echoes the exhibition's overall theme, which examines how different generations have reinterpreted Geoffrey Chaucer's works.

The British Library's manuscript of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, on display at the Bodleian Library

The annotated Prologue to the Wife of Bath's Tale, part of Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, on loan from the British Library

We very much admire the exhibition's fetching design and the wonderful array of objects on show, including manuscripts loaned by the National Library of Wales, Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, and our friends in Oxford. The curator, Professor Marion Wallace, has unearthed some incredible items and stories. We particularly like the cases devoted to modern translations of Chaucer, as well as to film and stage adaptations of his works. The graphics at the entrance to the exhibition invite visitors to consider whether this famous Middle English poet was 'multicultural, conservative, irreverent, comic, rude, respectful, imperial', and a host of similar terms.

International translations of Chaucer's works

The display of translations of the works of Geoffrey Chaucer

Display of film and theatrical adaptations of Chaucer's works

The colourful display of cinematic and theatrical productions of Chaucer's works

 

This loan is one of many organised by the British Library's curators, conservators and Registry, as part of our ongoing commitment towards national and international cultural partnerships. In the next few months we are lending other manuscripts to exhibitions in France, Germany, Scotland and England, so keep an eye on this Blog for more details about how you may be able to view them in person.

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