n English in Africa - Lifelines, Chris Mann, Adrian Craig, and Julia Skeen : book review




MS. Bodley 764 from the Bodleian Library, Oxford University, is a wondrous beast of a bestiary, containing information on 134 animals, along with some fine illuminations of the same. The animals range from lions, antelope, elephants and bears, through to satyrs, sirens, manticores and unicorns, and smaller creatures - hoopoes, bats, ducks, and even a worm. The information is based, not on scientific observation of course (the MS. dates from the thirteenth century), but on a centuries old textual tradition that drew on ancient sources and travellers' tales, painstakingly copied by scribes whose chief concern was being true to the auctores of the past, not to nature.


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