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Reading the WorldEncyclopedic Writing in the Scholastic Age$
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Mary Franklin-Brown

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780226260686

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226260709.001.0001

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Narrative and Natural History

Narrative and Natural History

Vincent of Beauvais’s Ordo juxta Scripturam

(p.95)  2  Narrative and Natural History
Reading the World

Mary Franklin-Brown

University of Chicago Press

Vincent de Beauvais's compilation, Speculum maius is an erudite, useful, and infinitely fascinating anthology of knowledge in all disciplines. Working over several decades on this anthology, Beauvais was never able to complete it. This led to the continuous expansion of an apparently limitless encyclopedia. What resulted was a book of 3.24 million words that made it unappealing to scholars in favor of the more contained florilegium of Bartholomeus Anglicus, De proprietatibus rerum. The Franciscan's encyclopedia, however, focused mainly on natural history, whereas Vincent's branched out into fields such as psychology, liberal and mechanical arts, political, ecclesiastical, and literary history. In essence, Vincent's compilation is the principal encyclopedia of its time. In dealing with the organization of it, Vincent settled on a paradigm borrowed from scriptural narrative. This chapter is devoted to the topic of his final organizational model.

Keywords:   Vincent de Beauvais, speculum maius, Bartholomeus Anglicus, scriptural narrative, De Proprietatibus Rerum

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