The Nun's Priest's Tale on CD-ROM
Edited by Paul Thomas
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Runs on any recent Windows or Macintosh computer with CD-ROM drive. See Nun's Priest Sales for further ordering information.

The Nun's Priest's Tale on CD-ROM is the fourth in the series of 'single-tale' CD-ROMs prepared by the Canterbury Tales Project: that for the Wife of Bath's Prologue won the English Association's 1998 Beatrice White award for an outstanding contribution to medieval and renaissance studies. Like its fellows in the series, this CD-ROM contains a full set of materials for study of the text in all extant fifteenth-century witnesses: fifty-one manuscripts and four incunabula. The whole text of the tale and associated links in every witness is transcribed, with a digital image of every one of the 1000 pages also given. The images, now of enhanced quality, are mostly grey-scale, with some full-colour images. The transcripts are linked to full collations in both regularized and unregularized forms, and to thorough descriptions of each manuscript (provided by Dan Mosser). A stemmatic analysis and commentary offer an overview of the whole tradition, with discussion of individual readings.

This CD-ROM uses the Anastasia publication interface, offering innovative access to all manuscript readings and images, and to all variant readings at each word. Clicking on any word or phrase in any witness opens up a window showing the variant readings in all witnesses at that point. At each point, a unique 'variant map' feature shows how the variants are distributed across the families of witnesses. Links in the transcripts and collations take the reader to the stemmatic commentary on individual readings. A specialized 'variant search' feature permits retrieval of all variants according to their distribution: thus, all readings found in the Hengwrt manuscript but not the Ellesmere manuscipt. Editorial articles describe how the CD-ROM was made, the transcription system used, and analyze the relationships between the witnesses, drawing on evolutionary biology software methods.

This CD-ROM version is designed so that the reader can load it on the hard disc of the computer and always have the full text and images of the books available.


  • Full transcription of all versions of The Nun's Priest's Tale and the associated links
  • Access at every word of every version to all variants at that word


  • High-resolution digital images (in colour where possible) of all pages
  • Page images viewable alongside the text for each page
  • Images magnifiable up to three times original size

Views of differences between the versions

  • Full word by word collation of all words in all versions
  • Each word collation linked to a 'Variant Map' feature, showing the distribution of all variants against the witness family relationships
  • Access to original spellings of all witnesses at each word in the collation
  • Line by line collation shows all different forms of each line
  • 'Compare' view shows significant differences between any two versions

Searching and navigation

  • Go directly to any view of any line in any witness from a simple drop-down menu
  • Search full text of all versions by word and phrase
  • View hits in 'key word in context' display, linked to the full text with highlighted hits
  • Unique 'VBase' feature offers complex searches for variants by their distribution


  • Full descriptions of all witnesses (prepared by Dan Mosser)
  • Discussions of the family relationships of the versions, with stemmatic commentary on key readings

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