< Back to previous page
Continuities and discontinuities in the production and reception of Middle Dutch narrative literature
Book Contribution - Chapter
In this article, we argue that in the development of Middle Dutch narrative literature three stages can be distinguished. In the first phase, indicated in this contribution as ‘Middle Dutch narrative literature in manuscripts’, authors of romances stuck to verse instead of prose, and stopped writing these texts after the middle of the fourteenth century. Between c. 1400 and c. 1470, Middle Dutch romances were only read in the eastern part of the Low Countries, in aristocratic circles, and not in Flanders or Brabant, the central parts of the region. The second phase, indicated as ‘Holland’, witnessed the reintroduction of Middle Dutch narrative literature by means of the printing press around 1470. In small towns located in the northern parts of the Low Countries, early printers produced prose narratives that had a strong didactic bias. These texts were adaptations of both Latin sources and Middle Dutch verse texts available in manuscript copies. The output of these printers included, in addition, editions of well-known verse narratives. The third phase, indicated as ‘Antwerp’, started with the shift of the production of printed texts from Holland to the metropolis of Antwerp in the 1480s. Antwerp printers looked for appealing sources outside of the Low Countries and adapted their material in order to attract both readers who were interested in new texts and readers who preferred texts which belonged to an established literary tradition.
Book: Early Printed Narrative Literature in Western Europe / Besamusca, B.; de Bruijn, E.; Willaert, F.
Pages: 49 - 92