Compilation is common practice throughout the Middle Ages, especially in the 15th century, which scholars have long recognized. While many have analyzed intertextual relations, transfers of motifs and characters, adaptations, and recombinations, scholars have rarely tried to make sense of the practice of compilation, to question how and why medieval writers incorporate previous texts into their own works, perhaps because modern researchers feel uncomfortable with a process that today would be equated with plagiarism. Medieval authors do not hesitate to borrow sentences or whole segments of texts, sometimes acknowledging that they are doing so but most often not. Yet compilation is merely another form of the phenomenon of rewriting, which pervades, even defines, medieval literature. As Norris Lacy has stated, “[medieval] literary culture [is] predicated on participation in a tradition, rather than departure from it.” When compiling, a writer both participates in and enhances a complex tradition, revives older texts, and enriches them with new meanings. He simultaneously demonstrates his respect and shows his impertinence towards previous writers. I propose to use Jean de Bueil's Jouvencel, written between 1461 and 1468, as a test case in my analysis of the art of compiling.
The Jouvencel is a romance cum treatise on the art of warfare cum biography, in which Jean de Bueil has incorporated, among other things, a poem by Alain Chartier, several pages from Christine de Pizan's Livre de chevalerie, and Philippe le Bel's ordinance about duels.
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