Author(s): Christopher de Hamel
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 illuminated manuscripts from the medieval period. Noted authority Christopher de Hamel invites the reader into intimate conversations with these texts to explore what they tell us about nearly a thousand years of medieval history - and about the modern world, too.
In so doing, de Hamel introduces us to kings, queens, saints, scribes, artists, librarians, thieves, dealers, and collectors. He traces the elaborate journeys that these exceptionally precious artifacts have made through time and shows us how they have been copied, how they have been embroiled in politics, how they have been regarded as objects of supreme beauty and as symbols of national identity, and who has owned them or lusted after them (and how we can tell).
From the earliest book in medieval England to the incomparable Book of Kells to the oldest manuscript of the Canterbury Tales, these encounters tell a narrative of intellectual culture and art over the course of a millennium. Two of the manuscripts visited are now in libraries of North America, the Morgan Library in New York and the Getty Museum in Los Angeles.
Part travel book, part detective story, part conversation with the reader, Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts allows us to experience some of the greatest works of art in our culture to give us a different perspective on history and on how we come by knowledge.
Winner of Wolfson History Prize 2017. Short-listed for Waterstones Book of the Year 2016.
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 '1843' * De Hamel's book, scholarly but unfailingly readable, is the beginning of wisdom in all things scribal and scriptural - Ian Thomson, The Observer * Ian Thomson, The Observer *
In the course of a long career at Sotheby's Christopher de Hamel has probably handled and catalogued more illuminated manuscripts and over a wider range than any person alive. Since 2000, he has been Fellow and Librarian of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. The Parker Library, in his care, includes many of the earliest manuscripts in English language and history. He is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries and the Royal Historical Society.