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Abstract

This article analyses the influence of the printing press on Icelandic handwritten manuscripts from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Iceland has a particularly rich and long-lasting manuscript culture that did not cease until the early twentieth century. Many post-medieval manuscripts include paratextual features that are more commonly connected with printed books, such as title pages which were a true innovation of the printing press but which are found in manuscripts, too. The earliest Icelandic title pages are found in manuscripts that were written for or by highly educated men and that contain the same textual genres that were printed, too, although references to print are rare. Title pages appear frequently in hymn manuscripts and various scribal strategies can be detected, from strict copies of their printed exemplars to emulating title pages of learned works. Often the medium of reception, or more precisely, singing is mentioned. Title pages appear very seldom in saga manuscripts, a popular genre that was restricted to the handwritten medium at that time. These title pages show much more decoration than hymn title pages and are full of stylistic and rhetorical elements of Baroque literature, such as alliteration and accumulatio. Similar to hymn title pages, the medium of reception, of reading and listening to, is stated. This analysis proves that title pages in manuscripts derived from printed books but that they developed their own specific characteristics, depended on several factors: printed models, generic traditions, the medium of reception, and individual choices of scribes and patrons.

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