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Introduction to Manuscript Studies Paperback – Aug 2007

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Introduction to Manuscript Studies + A Guide to Western Historical Scripts from Antiquity to 1600 + Latin Palaeography: Antiquity and the Middle Ages
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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press (Aug 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801487080
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801487088
  • Product Dimensions: 3.2 x 22.9 x 30.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 145,786 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Heavily illustrated with color plates of manuscript pages and details, this oversized volume (9x12") contains an thorough presentation of the study of medieval manuscripts that will be of use to medievalists as well as their students. The process of manuscript production is described in detail, including the production of vellum; the grinding and m

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IN THE history of writing, every conceivable surface has been used to record the written word, including clay, slate, pottery shards, linen cloth, bark, palm leaves, wood, metal, stone, animalskins, wax, and paper. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Mike on 30 Jan 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this book for what it had to say about illuminated manuscripts and as an introduction to a course on paleography which I am about to undertake. I recommend it for anyone who, like me, is a newcomer to understanding how medieval manuscripts were made and how to understand them. It does two things brilliantly: first, it offers a well-written introduction which goes into a great deal of detail without becoming clogged up - the logical narrative is clear and comprehensible; second, it offers copious illustration in high definition. One section, on different medieval scripts, is almost as good as having the originals there with you on your desk. The quality of production is very high - wonderful illustrations and clear, well-designed text. There's a useful glossary, a huge bibliography, and exhaustive index. If I have a criticism it is that almost all the examples used are from the Newberry Library in Chicago - but that's the point, really: it's the Newberry Library's production and, given that, it does the job excellently. I love this scholarly and careful book because it deals with a sometimes recondite subject in a fresh, lively and engaged way. Anyone vaguely interested in getting to know more about medieval manuscripts who comes upon this book will, I'm sure, become hooked.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By John Thorley on 15 Jan 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Certainly the best book currently available on Manuscript Studies. The coverage is as comprehensive as a single volume allows, and the illustrations are excellent. It is perhaps worth saying that local historians will need further help with the scripts used in local records, and with the numerous kinds of document found in local archives. But this is not a criticism of the book itself. The authors clearly state what the book is about, and carry out the job admirably.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By N. Phillips on 15 Jan 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is one of those wonderful books that seems to have more information than one would expect to fit in it. Brimming with fascinating and useful information on the history of manuscript production, handling and reading manuscripts, types of manuscripts, and more, this large, glossy, heavily illustrated book will be a delight to anyone interested in the subject. It is detailed and technical enough for the serious scholar but will also provide enjoyment to those with a casual interest wanting to dip in and out.

All information is well referenced and further books on the subject are suggested and I found the detailed information and evaluations in the appendix about the various materials available for Mediaeval Latin just what I'd been needing for a while.

All in all, this is an absolute treasure of a book. I don't think anyone interested in the subject would be disappointed with it.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 16 reviews
40 of 40 people found the following review helpful
A Spectacular Introduction to the Fascinating Subject of Manuscript Studies 14 Feb 2009
By Douglas R. VanBenthuysen - Published on
Format: Paperback
Raymond Clemens and Timothy Graham provide a spectacular introduction to the fascinating subject of manuscript studies. This well-organized book lays out nicely the various aspects of this field, including all aspects of book production, scribal practice, and script styles, making it a useful read for any student of the medieval period. The clear prose also makes this book accessible to anyone interested in the medieval period and/or the history of book making.

Beyond the actually text, this book is beautiful. It includes a myriad of full color images, highlighting the manuscript features discussed in the text. Consequently, one might derive enjoyment simply by flipping through the book and looking at the pictures, and it might very well be as appropriate sitting on a coffee table as shelved in a scholarly library.

While remaining accessible to a reader of casual interest, this book does not avoid the depth sought by a serious scholar. The book is thoroughly researched, with copious footnotes to direct the curious reader to further reading on particular topics. Even more useful to this end is the copious and well-organized bibliography which covers the all aspects of this broad field.

In short, I would strongly recommend this book to anyone with an interest in manuscript studies: from the casual admirer to the serious scholar.
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Illuminating 16 Mar 2009
By Robin K. Currie - Published on
Format: Paperback
A wonderful and expansive introduction to the study of medieval illuminated manuscripts. A tutorial based on university courses. Describes the processes involved in preparing vellum, making inks, scribing the text, decorating the leaves and binding the books. Provdes guidance on how to interpret text and script forms inclusive of abbreviations and punctuation. Clarifies how to record translated text into acceptable format for academic studies. Gives information on the genre and application for most know types of manuscripts, several in great detail. Loaded with high quality illustrations, photos and charts. One of the best books available on the subject and recommemded for any level of interest. Lacking only in that not all photographic examples are provided with a date of origin. Informative, enlightening and educational!
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Highly recommended 21 Dec 2009
By feuilletoniste - Published on
Format: Paperback
I cannot recommend this book highly enough. I was writing a graduate-level paper on palaeography and codicology (two subjects about which I knew almost nothing) and this book provides all the tools necessary, from the vocabulary to the process of working with a manuscript and even presenting your findings. The style is light and readable, and the pictures - beyond being essential to gaining an understanding of what all this business of textualis and humanist hands and tironian et symbols and whatnot when there isn't a 24-hour archive handy! - are beautiful and beguiling. This makes it just as suitable for an interested, casual reader as for students.

I only wish I had found this book earlier - doubtless there is much more useful information in there than the gems that I stumbled upon.

A potential caveat: I was working with the hard-bound edition, which would doubtless last longer as the coffee book table that this should become in an intellectually curious household. But doubtless the paperback will appeal to people who aren't used to a bit of medieval heft in their books!
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
A Superbly Executed Book on Medieval Manuscripts 10 May 2010
By Ray - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This stunningly printed and bound book doesn't end with its high quality format: the text itself is a highly accessible and extensively detailed examination at all aspect of medieval manuscripts. Starting with a comprehensive review of the various types of writing surfaces that have historically been used to carry written words (wood, wax, metal, paper, papyrus, and parchment), the book moves on to cover a detailed exploration of the medieval parchment manuscript (the most common type for all documents of the period), including sections on decoration, glossing, annotation, suggestions for reading an interpreting manuscripts, and a discussion on the various types of content that were reproduced on such manuscripts.

The book is printed in an oversized format, with heavy semi-gloss paper and extensive use of color illustrations and photos, making the book itself a modern day equivalent of the medieval variant. The author's content is so extensive and wide ranging that it has lead a number of authorities to state that the book should be required reading for anyone studying the period. A quick review of the text will likely convince anyone to agree. It is unusual to see so comprehensive a text be also reproduced in such a stunningly gorgeous manner. The book is on par with the quality seen in the books published in France by its national library (the Bibliothèque Nationale de France ), and if one has ever seen such books, that is quite a claim to make. That it is available for under $40 is simply astounding.

The content is as accessible as it is detailed. The author makes good use of explanations when introducing terms, and does not overwhelm the reader with abstract and arcane language, yet still maintains a scholarly tone throughout the volume. Although the physical size and weight of the book can make the book a bit difficult to hold, the book is such a delight with which to interact that it does not matter. The color illustrations and photos are first rate, and the page layout and typeface both pleasant and readable.

Of special interest is a section on damaged manuscripts. This section covers an entire range of potential types of damage that can occur to old manuscripts, and even illustrates many types of damage with representative full color photos. Some before/after photos are supplied for cases where damage is treated by modern methods. This is a very unique aspect of the book.

Finally, the bibliography is truly extensive, a wealth of information for anyone undertaking study in this area, and is arguably worth the price of the volume alone.

A rarity among books today, this startlingly well written book executed with the highest levels of print and page quality makes "Introduction to Manuscript Studies" an unusual and beautiful volume. Five stars for content, five stars for reproductions, five stars for print and page quality, and an easy five stars for price. Combine it with two other gorgeous books, "A History of Illuminated Manuscripts" by de Hamel and "The British Library Guide to Manuscript Illumination" (also by de Hamel) to make a wonderful trio of books on medieval manuscripts.

See also:
A History of Illuminated Manuscripts
The British Library Guide to Manuscript Illumination: History and Techniques (British Library Guides)
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Outstanding resource for my classes 22 May 2010
By S. L. Frank - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book has a great deal of information all in one location. It is fascinating to browse and to read. When I brought it to my class they immediately purchased it unprompted by me so they could have it for reference. The students in my calligraphy classes felt it was very well done. The bookbinding students also liked it for the history.
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