Forms of literary communication in the Middle Ages differed widely and fundamentally from the present day. In contrast to our general knowledge of the dissemination of literary texts by meand of manuscript production, basic information about the copying process of individual texts as a rule is lacking. In this article the author draws attention to the professional scribes who may be held responsible for the production of the majority of the literary manuscripts. Who were they, what were their working methods, and under what circumstances did they operate? Although oftne presumed to have disappeared after the Middle Ages, the public writer kept a presence in the cities of Europe well into the twentieth century. An iconographiccally and textually documented sketch of the working conditions of public scribes is presented, demonstrating the persistence of forms of literary transmission and production throughout a period that surprinsingly covers more than six centuries.
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