Twitter never ceases to amaze. Only a week after TV’s LeVar Burton introduced me to the world of whimsy and wonder you can find at your local library in your kitchen when TV’s LeVar Burton is crashing at your place, my Twitter stream brings word that I’m not the only person on the net obsessed with medieval marginal potty humor.* Behold, courtesy of Kate Beaton’s stream:**
I hate posting images of unknown provenance, but other than its recent Twitterian origin, I’m at a loss to tell you where it’s originally from. The manuscripts whose margins I usually haunt are predominantly de luxe thirteenth and fourteenth century productions made in the style popular in the north of France, south of England, and/or the County of Flanders and its close neighbors. This rings none of the familiar bells.
So, once again, I end up tossing a question to the peanut gallery comprised of my readership.*** Any idea from whence it hails?
Wherever it’s from, I hope that someday someone uses it as the cover image for a book on Chaucer’s dirty mind, as it is pleasingly evocative of the Miller’s Tale‘s climax. Only here the clerkish guy in the lower middle margin is not occupied with thoughts of a kiss from a beautiful lady**** when the window-dwelling wit lets fly with his messy substitute; rather, he’s too engrossed in the urine sample he’s studying to get out of the way of the inbound stool sample.
One final detail I love: the top figure is drawn as though he’s reading the text in front of him, as is often the case with the more scatologically-minded marginal dwellers. Reading while enthroned is a habit with a far more ancient pedigree than you might have guessed.