Asa Simon Mittman deposited “A Blank Space: Mandeville, Maps, and Possibility,” Peregrinations: Journal of Medieval Art & Architecture 5:2 (Autumn 2015) in the group Medieval Art on Humanities Commons 3 years, 6 months ago
British Library Harley MS 3954’s Book of Sir John Mandeville has ninety-nine images, and another thirty-five blanks, carefully framed in thin lines of ink as part of the ruling of the manuscript. As is so often the case, the blanks appear more frequently toward the end. On the final folio (69v) there appears a neatly framed blank space (Figure 1). The manuscript’s final text block appears just below this space and tells us of “a bok of Latyn that conteyned al that and myche more, aff wych bok the mappa mundi was mad.” As if to tantalize the reader, “mappa mundi” is rubricated and so stands out from the black ink in which the rest of the page (and the book) is written. While I sat there, staring at the blank space, and the red name for an absent image, I caught myself dreaming of finding a new mappa mundi hidden within that empty frame, the perfect place for a map of the world according to Mandeville. What would it look like, and what would imagining it tell us about the Book’s portrayal of Jews?