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Printed Commonplace-Books and the Structuring of Renaissance Thought$
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Ann Moss

Print publication date: 1996

Print ISBN-13: 9780198159087

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198159087.001.0001

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Medieval Prehistory

Medieval Prehistory

Chapter:
(p.24) 2 Medieval Prehistory
Source:
Printed Commonplace-Books and the Structuring of Renaissance Thought
Author(s):

Ann Moss

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198159087.003.0002

The name ‘commonplace-book’ does not seem to have been used before the 16th century, but the thing itself had been evolving at least since the time of John of Salisbury. It is not to the genealogy of ‘places’ that one must first look for the ancestors of commonplace-books, but to the other line of descent, the path of flower-gathering. The collections of quotations from classical authors which begin to proliferate in the 12th century were generally entitled ‘flowers’. The larger medieval florilegia, even if they originated as private collections like the one mentioned, soon entered the public domain. Like the future commonplace-book, the florilegium had an ambivalent status, and functioned in both a private and a public context. In the case of commonplace-books, this duality is more visible because the advent of printing made a clear distinction in their means of production and in their methods of circulation.

Keywords:   commonplace-books, flower-gathering, classical authors, flowers, florilegia, private collections

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