Monday, January 27, 2014

How to Handle Books, 1345

Yale, Beinecke Marston MS 67, f. 66r
"And in the first place as to the opening and closing of books, let there be due moderation, that they be not unclasped in precipitate haste, nor when we have finished our inspection be put away without being duly closed. For it behoves us to guard a book much more carefully than a boot. 
But the race of scholars is commonly badly brought up, and unless they are bridled in by the rules of their elders they indulge in infinite puerilities...You may happen to see some headstrong youth lazily lounging over his studies, and when the winter's frost is sharp, his nose running from the nipping cold drips down, nor does he think of wiping it with his pocket-handkerchief until he has bedewed the book before him with the ugly moisture.... He does not fear to eat fruit or cheese over an open book, or carelessly to carry a cup to and from his mouth... 
But the handling of books is specially to be forbidden to those shameless youths, who as soon as they have learned to form the shapes of letters, straightway, if they have the opportunity, become unhappy commentators, and wherever they find an extra margin about the text, furnish it with monstrous alphabets, or if any other frivolity strikes their fancy, at once their pen begins to write it."
 Richard de Bury, Philobiblon (1345)
Hello, reader! This head-cold season, please remember that your book is not a Kleenex. Also, medieval manuscripts and cheese are not a great combination.


  1. Interesting how a few centuries can change your perspective on an ordinary doodle

  2. made me think of this:

  3. LOL! That's brilliant. Love the bit about "shameless youths" :D


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