Caxton’s edition of Malory’s Le Morte Darthur: compositorial challenges and chapter divisions
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The author presents here four findings drawn from close analysis of the chapter and book divisions in Caxton’s edition of Le Morte Darthur. The first three of these bear particular relevance to scholars interested in textual alterations that might have been made to Le Morte Darthur for copy-fitting purposes. In particular, these results suggest closer attention might usefully be paid to the text at interlinear chapter divisions, and in quires a-d and ee, as the extreme contraction of formatting at these points suggests that there may be associated textual contractions. The last finding provides circumstantial support for the view that Caxton revised the Roman War section, and further indicates that there is some probability that this section was set from a different exemplar to the rest of the edition. Most of all, though, it is hoped that this study has demonstrated how much we might still be able to learn about techniques of the early hand-press period, even from a text as persistently studied as Le Morte Darthur.