Fragments from the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek collection

The term fragments emphasises the incompleteness of these texts: they are merely fragments. The fact that a text has remained a fragment or, far more frequently, has become such in the course of history may have various causes: on the one hand it may be an incompletely handed down text, on the other hand it may be an 'unintentionally' unfinished work or a literary genre deliberately chosen by the author.

The by far most common form of fragmentary tradition in the manuscript field, however, is the reuse of individual sheets (usually on parchment) for new book bindings (covers, gluing into the endpapers). Due to this kind of "recycling", parts of the text, often with significant book illuminations, that would otherwise have been destroyed were preserved by chance. Fragments can be found in almost all languages, text genres and epochs and accordingly across all signature groups.

Losses from handing down mainly affect ancient and medieval texts. On the one hand, this is due to external influences (including natural disasters, mould, worm damage, fires), and on the other hand, due to the circumstances of the time (including the political situation, cultural upheaval and religious reforms, war). The fact that a text remained unfinished may in individual cases also be connected to the fact that the author died before he could complete the work. The third option, deliberately not completing the text, identifies the fragment as an aesthetic art form, which was practised particularly during the Romantic period.

>> This collection is part of the holdings of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek (Bavarian State Library).

To the collections by signature group of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek