The Scriptorium

## The Scriptorium

Imitating a scribe seemed like exciting work. I quickly learned that I was wrong for thinking that. Imitating a scribe is novel work, certainly, but quickly loses its charm. I hand-write things pretty regularly–I take most of my notes by hand, I copy lines if I’m learning them for a performance, I journal–yet this was so much more tedious and laborious. While it was enjoyable to figure out the strange course my letter (Poe’s) was taking, I found it much less engaging to copy text than write my own, and so I felt the ache in my hand, neck, and back much more quickly.

### Chaucer, relatable?

When I first read “Chaucer’s Words to His Scrivener,” I felt sympathy for Chaucer. Sure he’s a little harsh, but it is his work that’s being transcribed and he wants it treated with the utmost care. After twenty minutes of writing by hand, though, I am entirely with the scrivener, who probably does this as his actual full-time job. I can’t imagine that struggle.

### Aelfric

Aelfric’s preface really surprised me when I first read it, and playing the scribe didn’t really help. Aelfric’s primary concern, as we learned in class, was probably the maintenance of control in the upper tiers of the church hierarchy. And the scribes are on the opposite end of that hierarchy, at the very bottom tier. In today’s lab I couldn’t very much relate to Aelfric, because I felt like a scribe robbed of information or work.

### P.S.

I guess I’m leaving every lab with a little interdisciplinary connection, but in my history class we just read an extensive account of the assassination of Julius Caesar, and the amount of letters, notes, edicts, and other forms of written communication is astounding, given what I now know of paper-making in that era (at least, from what we learned about parchment, and even if they used different material, I would imagine it was similarly costly in time and material). Cicero, Cassius, and Brutus exchanged letters every day for months. It’s funny that I’m amazed by that, given that there are definitely people that I text everyday, but the Romans’ mode of constant communication seems much more active and intentional, in part because it wasn’t so easy for them.