Archive for the ‘Book history’ Category
Thursday, May 27th, 2010
1. Keep your hands off them!
When I first came to Cambridge to study medieval literature, I had a romantic vision of myself sitting tucked away in quiet corners of the British Library, the Cambridge University Library, Oxford’s Bodleian Library and the library at Trinity College, Dublin, turning the pages of yellowing manuscripts with gloved fingers. However, when I attended a course on manuscript-handling organised by my faculty, I was shocked to hear the first words out of the lecturer’s mouth: ‘If at all possible, try not to use the manuscripts themselves.’
Most libraries guard their medieval manuscripts jealously, and limit the number of times a researcher is allowed to request to work with the manuscripts. And they tend only to let people look at the manuscripts with very good reasons; wanting to see the work first-hand is not an adequate reason. What’s a medieval studies student to do? Well, in recent times this is less of a problem because…