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.
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