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Meetings with Remarkable Manuscriptsis one of the least likely and most wonderful books I have ever read Least likely Where to start Its a vanishingly rare pleasure, given the commercial constraints of modern publishing, to handlesmoothly weighty pages in which the printed text winds its way seamlessly amongthanglorious, often full color illustrations And in producing such a gorgeous object, Christopher de Hamels publisher has had the courage of his convictions, because its physical and visual delights mirror its commercially unlikely subject matter De Hamel is voraciously completist, recording impressions of each journey, place, building and reading room, as well as every coverage detail of each manuscripts creation, content and existence as a physical object through time and space On this archival odyssey, I lost count of the things I learned Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts , like the volumes that are its subject, is a book of wonders The New York Times Book Review Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts is miles away from academic dry as dust scholarship Youll love learning from it Little wonder that in Britain this extraordinary book has already won both the Wolfson History Prize and the Duff Cooper nonfiction prize Washington Post De Hamel is a man of extraordinary erudition and easy charm his book asks many questions of the past, and invokes many mysteries The New YorkerAn extraordinary book, a work of scholarship and history salted with the author s excitementIt is full of delights, as well as surprising reminders of the shifting ground of knowledge Tom StoppardDeeply edifying and hugely entertaining De Hamels curiosity and enthusiasm are infectious and his dedicated sleuth work and educated guesses are invigorating When not awed by the sheer scope of his expertise or absorbed by his concerted efforts to decipher script or dissect scripture, we are diverted by his light flourishes and witty evaluations Weekly StandardPerhaps most important in discussing this magnificent work is to assure you that the overarching erudition is rendered clearly and with great kindness to you, his companion He shows a shrewd ability in telling you just why this is something you should know I am a happier and fuller person because this fine man took me on his Grand Tour and told me so many marvelous things Helen Hazen, The American ScholarThis is a rare example of a book that appeals to both specialist and non specialist audiences For a person with no training in manuscript study who would like to know what its all about, I could recommend nothing better than reading at least one chapter of thispage book, pausing over its many beautiful color illustrations But anyone with a professional interest in the field will not want to miss de Hamels own original thinking about these ancient tomesa wonderful book Commonweal Magazine A glorious bookde Hamel pulls readers in with his unmistakable passion for every facet of these handcrafted treasures and details each documents idiosyncrasies while contextualizing its time and place of creationDe Hamels delightful book is bound to inspire a new set of medievalists Publishers Weekly, starred review Interested general readers will appreciate de Hamels lucid treatment of the themes and literary techniques that mark these manuscripts as cultural milestonesBut they will marvel at the lavish reproductions of the masterful calligraphy and dazzling illuminations that have long made the manuscripts irresistible to collectors A must read for anyone who values the history of the written word Booklist, starred reviewA palaeographer s fascinating investigation of medieval culture A former librarian of Parker Library at Cambridge and cataloger of illuminated manuscripts for Sotheby s, de Hamel brings extensive expertise to his meticulous examination ofcelebrated manuscripts created from the sixth to the th centuryThe book is sumptuously illustratedA rare, erudite, and delightfully entertaining history Kirkus Reviews, starred review 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, Economist Encountering an original medieval manuscript is in some ways like encountering a famous person, says De Hamel With meticulous biblio sleuthing he seeks to divine the hidden character of the celebrity documents under his scrutiny De Hamel s book, scholarly but unfailingly readable, is the beginning of wisdom in all things scribal and scriptural Ian Thomson, Observer Christopher de Hamel is one of the world s leading palaeographers In this splendid new book he has numerous fascinating, scandalous, funny and gloriously entertaining tales His enthusiasm, irreverence and wit are irresistible Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts is, like each one of thetreasures it celebrates, a book of marvels John Banville, Financial Times He has undertaken an almost impossible task Instead of guiding our own exploration of these beautiful objects, his book has to serve as a substitute for the real thing In this, he succeeds brilliantly, producing a truly wonderful book in the process wise, entertaining and informative Beneath his urbane manner, Christopher de Hamel is a formidable scholar Jonathan Sumption, Spectator With scholarly elegance, Christopher de Hamel opens the door and invites us to join him for the intellectual expedition of a lifetimeThis is an endlessly fascinating and enjoyable book Neil MacGregor Erudite and enthusiasticde Hamel has cataloguedmedieval manuscripts than anyone in history everyone, not only academics should listen to what he has saidEconomist Spectacular Manuscripts are the lifeblood of medieval history De Hamel, the librarian of Corpus Christi, has spent a lifetime handling, cataloguing and interpreting these gorgeous objectsIf I could walk you to your nearest bookshop, takefrom your wallet, and place this wonderful book in your hands, I would Peter Thonemann, Sunday Times One of the cultural highlights of the autumnChristopher de Hamel has turned a lifelong obsession with ancient literature into a book that critics are comparing to A History of the World inObjects and the wonderful The Hare with Amber Eyes Kirsty Ward, Newsnight He reveals a stupendous discovery has made about this book that no one had noticed in its centuries on this earth De Hamel makes an informative, entertaining book the most suitable medium, after all , and no one but he could have written it Christopher Howse, Daily Telegraph Christopher 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 Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts is de Hamels masterpiece, and has come at the end of a long and distinguished career De Hamel writes in his introduction of his desire to communicate the thrill of bringing a well informed but non specialist reader into intimate contact with major medieval manuscripts He does it brilliantly, and in full color This would have to be my book of the year Jon M Sweeney,American Magazine An endlessly fascinating and enjoyable book Neil MacGregor Full of delights Tom StoppardAn extraordinary exploration of the medieval world the most beguiling history book of the yearThis 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 statureThe 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 tastePart 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 At the end, we have a slightly different perspective on history and how we come by knowledge It is a most unusual book


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