Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts

By Christopher De Hamel,

Book cover of Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts: Twelve Journeys into the Medieval World

Book description

An extraordinary and beautifully illustrated exploration of the medieval world through twelve manuscripts, from one of the world's leading experts.

Winner of The Wolfson History Prize and The Duff Cooper Prize.

A San Francisco Chronicle Holiday Book Gift Guide Pick!

Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts is a captivating examination of twelve…

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Why read it?

3 authors picked Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

One of the great thrills of researching medieval history is getting the chance to handle original documents up close, as I have had the good fortune to do a few times. Christophe de Hamel is a palaeographer, a manuscripts expert who has travelled the world to examine some of the most precious handwritten works that still survive. As his title hints, De Hamel treats these artefacts as personalities, and his no-nonsense decipherment of priceless treasures is like listening in on a wise and witty conversation.

Christopher de Hamel, a renowned expert on illuminated manuscripts, takes us on a tour of magnificent libraries and “interviews” some of their treasures—ones so valuable and so fragile that they are almost completely inaccessible to the public. Many are also big: he gives a priceless description of the Codex Amiatinus, now in Florence, as “the weight of a fully grown female Great Dane.” His approach is both magisterial and chattily intimate. As the covers of the manuscripts creak open—and as de Hamel describes even the scent of the parchment—we get glimpses into long-lost worlds of scribes, monks, and scholars from…

From Ross' list on books about books.

This is such a wonderful, idiosyncratic book, and it rightly scooped all kinds of awards. What I like about it is, first, that it focuses on books – actual, material books – what they look like, feel like, as well as what they say and, second, that it gives you windows onto lots of different aspects of medieval life. Each manuscript offers a snapshot, a way into, for instance, fourteenth-century scribal culture in Chaucer’s London, or love-songs and drinking-songs in the era when universities developed. It is beautifully illustrated too, giving readers a sense of the richness and variety of…

From Marion's list on medieval life.

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