4 Pages

Notes on the Translation

WithDamian Smith, Helena Buffery

The importance of James’s Book can be observed in the range of different manuscripts based upon his narrative account of his reign.1 Whilst there is evidence that the text as he dictated it became an important reference work and heirloom for his descendants, the original manuscript has been lost. This gap has led to the development of numerous hypotheses about the nature of the original version, including attempts to argue for the existence of an epic poem based on the events recounted.2 Marsili’s Latin translation of 1313 is certainly the earliest surviving manuscript version of James’s Book, and was commissioned by James II of Aragon as a way of bringing some order to his grandfather’s accounts.3 For a time it was thought that the earliest Catalan manuscripts derived from the Latin version. However, the many errors which were once thought to be mistranslations from the Latin, as well as the shifts in register that occur in the Marsili’s text, and his occasional lapses from a third person narrative into the first person narrative that marks out the history as the memoirs of the king, are now considered to be certain indicators of the priority of a Catalan version, as copied in the manuscripts of 1343 and 1380.4