I have been most excited by the arrival this week of Jennifer Fellows’s new edition of Sir Bevis of Hampton for the Early English Text Society. It is a real tour de force of scholarship. Long in the making, the fruits of the editor’s labours are going to be of inestimable value to researchers and all those interested in medieval secular literature.
The text presented in this 2 volume edition is not from the Auchinleck MS but from the Naples MS with additions from Cambridge University Library MS Ff.2.38.
The Introduction and Appendices taken together provide a huge amount of background information and analysis, leaving me wondering – ‘what more can any of us say about this poem and its story?’ but undoubtedly once we have digested the information presented by Dr. Fellows and familiarised ourselves with the text she has chosen we will all be inspired to take our own scholarship into new areas under the illumination provided by this edition.
I have had no time to do more than skim the riches inside these volumes, but they make an immediate impression anyway with the choice of illustrations on their dust jackets. Volume 1 shows a misericord image of Bevis in combat with Ascupart – identifiable by his club. Volume 2 shows another misericord image of Bevis fighting a huge boar. As if the editing of the Bevis text and its accompanying commentary were not sufficient signs of Dr. Fellows’s deep engagement with the story, she photographed both cover images!