Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts (Paperback)Christopher de Hamel (author)
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This exclusive Waterstones' paperback edition contains additional material composed to accompany this volume by Christopher de Hamel. In a personal account, he describes how an extraordinary encounter at an archive in New Zealand sparked a lifetime's love affair with ancient manuscripts.
Winner of the Wolfson History Prize 2017
Winner of the Duff Cooper Prize for Non-Fiction
Shortlisted for the Waterstones Book of the Year 2016
The majority of the greatest medieval manuscripts are now almost never on public display at all, even in darkened display cases, and if they are, you can only see a single opening… The idea of this book, then, is to invite the reader to accompany the author on a private journey to see, handle and interview some of the finest illuminated manuscripts of the Middle Ages.
This is a book about why medieval manuscripts matter. Coming face to face with an important illuminated manuscript in the original is like meeting a very famous person. We may all pretend that a well-known celebrity is no different from anyone else, and yet there is an undeniable thrill in actually meeting and talking to a person of world stature. The idea for the book, which is entirely new, is to invite the reader into intimate conversations with twelve of the most famous manuscripts in existence and to explore with the author what they tell us about nearly a thousand years of medieval history - and sometimes about the modern world too.
Christopher de Hamel introduces us to kings, queens, saints, scribes, artists, librarians, thieves, dealers, collectors and the international community of manuscript scholars, showing us how he and his fellows piece together evidence to reach unexpected conclusions. He traces the elaborate journeys which these exceptionally precious artefacts have made through time and space, shows us how they have been copied, who has owned them or lusted after them (and how we can tell), how they have been embroiled in politics and scholarly disputes, how they have been regarded as objects of supreme beauty and luxury and as symbols of national identity.
The book touches on religion, art, literature, music, science and the history of taste. Part travel book, part detective story, part conversation with the reader, Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts conveys the fascination and excitement of encountering some of the greatest works of art in our culture which, in the originals, are to most people completely inaccessible.
Christopher De Hamel has spent a lifetime in the company of rare manuscripts and in this delight of a book he invites us to meet them with him. A visual feast and a genre-defying mixture of history, memoir, and travelogue held together by the author’s inimitable charm, Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts is unique slice of publishing and a deeply fascinating read.
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Number of pages: 656
Weight: 461 g
Dimensions: 198 x 129 x 28 mm
'An extraordinary book, a work of scholarship and history salted with the author's excitement as he conducts us among the great libraries of Western civilization. It is full of delights' - Tom Stoppard
'The intellectual expedition of a lifetime ... This is an endlessly fascinating and enjoyable book.' - Neil MacGregor
'A book of marvels' - John Banville, Financial Times
'Entrancing ... De Hamel's learned adventures amid some of the West's greatest manuscript treasures effortlessly outclass Eco's The Name of the Rose in elegance and excitement. They are also much funnier.' - Diarmaid MacCulloch
'Reading is my life, but only about once a decade do I find a book that seems to tilt the world, so afterwards it appears different.' - Fiammetta Rocco, The Economist
'De Hamel's book, scholarly but unfailingly readable, is the beginning of wisdom in all things scribal and scriptural' - Ian Thomson, The Observer
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I bought this for my father for Christmas and he was very pleased with it. I started reading it too (after I'd given it!) and wish I'd bought a copy for myself. It is a beautifully put together book from the... More
It is not often that I purchase non-fiction books but was instantly captivated whilst standing in a Waterstones that I had to buy it.. this is the type of book that only comes along once in a blue moon.. Accessible... More
“A gem for every booklover's shelf.”
I wanted to read this from cover to cover as de Hamel takes you by the hand and shares the physical excitement of visiting its library home and then handling each of his chosen twelve manuscript books, before he... More
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