This Arthurian romance is an amalgam of contradictions, proof of the divide
between today's world and the world that produced the manuscript. Its
19th-century owner was the famous bibliophile, Baron Horace Landau, a
representative of the Rothschild banking house in various cities across Europe.
It must have been Landau who had the book bound by one of the foremost
Florentine binders, G. Berti, in a sumptuous purple morocco binding with inlays
of gilt-patterned green morocco at the corners, and gilt dentelle on the
turn-ins. Clearly, the codex was highly valued by its aristocratic owner. But in
its day, the book was a casual way to pass the time: a fairy tale, in the
vernacular, partially copied on cheap second-hand parchment (the underlying text
seems to be a notarial register from the province of Vicenza), and partially
copied on poorly sized paper; even the effort to provide good penwork initials
petered out after the first four gatherings. The book provoked confusion in
today's scholars, as well: it was registered as French in origin, according to
the too-simple logic that its language declared its place of birth.