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Bestiary: Being an English Version of the Bodleian Library, Oxford, MS Bodley 764 Paperback – 17 Oct 2013


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Bestiary: Being an English Version of the Bodleian Library, Oxford, MS Bodley 764 + The Book Of Imaginary Beings (Vintage Classics) + The Book of Barely Imagined Beings: A 21st-century Bestiary
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Product details

  • Paperback: 206 pages
  • Publisher: Boydell Press; New edition edition (17 Oct 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 085115753X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0851157535
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 13.8 x 1.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 61,476 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

Review

The translation is pellucid, and the colourful late-gothic illustrations really delightful. Epic begets epic: stupendous and thought-provoking. FORTEAN TIMESAn invaluable resource for readers and writers who aspire to understand how mediaeval men and women viewed the natural world, both actual and fantastical. HISTORICAL NOVELS REVIEWExcellent translation from the Latin original makes for fascinating reading about beasts, real and imaginary, of the medieval world. The most delightful picture-book about animals you'll ever see. EVENING STANDARDHugely enjoyable, this English version of a 13th-century manuscript in the Bodleian Library offers every kind of beast... The illustrations are gorgeous and well reproduced. INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Stuart Heath on 25 Oct 2000
...in which unicorns and lions rub shoulders and haunches with cattle, hounds and mice. This book allows us to imagine beasts, fowl and fishes as our medieval forefathers did, in what to present-day eyes is a confused blend of 'facts', speculation and moralizing. The emphasis is all on knowledge gained from the library, rather than from the field... and how it can be applied in pursuit of a good & pious life. We feel the force of a pervasive belief that the Beasts were Created by God for the benefit of Man, but we also see an awe and a delight in the beauty and variety of that Creation, most vividly in the beautifully reproduced miniatures which illustrate the text. I love this book, and recommend it wholeheartedly.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Ashtar Command on 24 Aug 2008
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"Bestiary" is a translation of a medieval book about animals, originally written in Latin during the 13th century, somewhere in England. The main source for this bestiary was another bestiary, compiled during the 12th century, and also translated to English as "The Book of Beasts". Thus, the text of the two books are very similar. If you just want to buy one of them, I recommend "Bestiary". The reason? The illustrations are much better, and they are all in full color! Indeed, the illustrations are taken straight from the original manuscript, making "Bestiary" not just a translation of an ancient book, but also an example of medieval (Gothic) art.

We are used to a modern, scientific view of nature and animals. The Middle Ages saw things differently. Animals weren't seen as random products of blind, natural forces. They were created by God for the edification of the human race. Indeed, Adam named all animals in the Garden of Eden, each name reflecting their true character. Animals were not just brute beasts. They carried a moral message, directed to sinful humanity. They also carried a hidden, mystical meaning, which somehow paralleled the message of the Bible itself! All the world was seen as an enchanted, magical place, with each thing a symbol for deeper, moral or spiritual, realities.

This explains the rather strange style of "Bestiary". It's not just a collection of (often badly distorted) zoological facts. It's also a book of moral edification. The anonymous author often digresses from the "real" subject (the animals), and starts to preach Christian morality to his readers. That, too, was considered part of the subject. After a short description of the pig, the author attacks sinful gluttons and unclean heretics.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By J. Lewis on 3 Feb 2013
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This is a cleanly presented version of a Bodleian manuscript with colour pictures of the animals and birds described, and what seems to be a straight translation of the text of the original document. It's enchanting in itself but is also an ideal reference book for anyone interested in romanesque and mediaeval carving and illustration. I have only had a copy for a matter of weeks, but I find myself going back to it and I enjoy the fact that apart from an introduction, which is good and factual, it does not go in for
unnecessary commentary.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Fritha on 6 Aug 2012
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This book is fascinating, but not set out as easy access paragraphs, nor linked to pictures as would be a modern style text. It therefore is not a quick reference experience if you want to look something up about ancient beasts. Bestiary: Being an English Version of the Bodleian Library, Oxford, MS Bodley 764
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mark R on 11 Feb 2014
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Purchased as a Christmas present, the book was in good condition , (I have been told) that it is very useful and informative.
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