Cat Copy Editing. An Ancient Art.

medieval cat copy edit, originally discovered by Emir O. Filipovic


It’s history time again!  And, not surprisingly, it again involves me.  Or at the very least, a member of my large and illustrious clan of well-read felines.  Here we see the copy-editing of my great-great-great-greeeeeeeeeat Grandpaw, Meowulf, who kept monks in line during 15th century scribble sessions.  Transcribing was, as you can imagine, boring business – line after line, curlicue after curlicue, elaborate Celtic cross after elaborate Celtic cross.  Monks, usually full of hand-crafted ale, were often a sleepy bunch, so Meowulf had to use every trick in teh book: playful jabs at the quill, ankle-biting, even the occasional butt in the day-dreaming face, anything to keep them on task.

Here, I do believe Meowulf had to take the extreme measure of putting his stamp of disapproval on the whole work.  Four paws usually meant the whole thing had to be chucked and started over, even if it did take another decade.  Not that Grandpaw was such a task master, but prol’ly becuz the Monk had passed out and started to drool on the parchment.  He had high standards, my Grandpaw.  

But since we talking about medieval relatives, here is another famous family member – Meowulf’s second cousin on his neighbor’s side – Pangur Ban, in a scene from the  PBS documentary on medieval cats


and the ending, which could have been written by my very own Monkish Mrs.Whatsername, sitting as she always does, in a dark room with the white computer light in her face, and me, biting her ankle on my way out the door for a quick mole hunt:

So in peace our tasks we ply,
Pangur Ban, my cat, and I;
In our arts we find our bliss,
I have mine and he has his.

Practice every day has made
Pangur perfect in his trade;
I get wisdom day and night
Turning darkness into light.