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Their Hands Before Our Eyes: A Closer Look at Scribes: The Lyell Lectures Delivered in the University of Oxford 1999 Hardcover – 24 Sep 2008


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Review

'Malcolm Parkes is an English by-word for expertise in medieval palaeography ... his publications on this subject have become the standard of reference. ... The published version of (The Lyell Lectures) ... does not disappoint. ...In the second part, Parkes offers us a feast of what he does best: meticulous analysis of the developments of English handwriting throughout the Middle Ages. ...Their Hands Before Our Eyes is densely packed with information, with copious references to previous publications by Parkes and others that laid the groundwork for this overview. The footnotes include lists of manuscripts now attributed to each scribe Parkes discusses. Its broad scope ranges from the fifth to the sixteenth centuries, encompassing not only British but Continental handwriting as well... There is almost nothing to fault in this book.' Times Literary Supplement 'This book will be of particular interest to scholars who work with medieval books and documents, and especially to those who already have a good foundation in the basics of paleography and are interested in a study of writing that goes beyond a description of various hands to an analysis of writing as a process imbedded in, and responding to, various cultural contexts. ...This is an important work by a distinguished scholar of medieval handwriting, a study that highlights the critical role that the art of paleography continues to play in shaping our understanding of the religious, intellectual, and artistic contours of the Middle Ages. ... Parkes has a [...] gift for showing those of us who work with medieval manuscripts and documents new ways to see what we had thought was familiar.' The Medieval Review 'All in all this is a thoroughly well-researched, readable and informative work, attractively presented, and reflective of the author's deep knowledge of the subject matter.' Rare Books Newsletter 'Dr. Parkes's services to English paleography now extend over more than half a century and provide a corpus of scholarship on which future research in this field will rely. [This book] provides further demonstration of the learning and insight that he has displayed throughout his distinguished career.' The Library 'The volume is a rich and thought-provoking exposition of an extraordinarily wide range of scribal activity. It offers a broadly diachronistic exploration of the interaction of context, tools, literary needs, book trade, and scribes.' Notes and Queries 'Malcolm Parkes' Lyell lectures, delivered in Oxford in 1999, are considerably expanded here in an appropriately splendid and high-quality publication, complete with sixty-nine black-and-white illustrative plates. Throughout the dense and detailed chapters, Parkes offers us an authoritative and extensive discussion of scribal practices and contexts of manuscript production, chiefly from 800 to 1500, but with the greatest emphasis on the high Middle Ages. Advanced students of palaeography and book history, and all medieval scholars, will find much to enrich their knowledge of general trends in textual production, transmission and reception; and while this is not a book for the faint-hearted, a careful reader, attentive to the erudite and substantial footnotes, will be abundantly repaid for their investment.' Review of English Studies 'This book will surely establish itself as another major contribution to the study of medieval handwriting by a master paleographer.' Speculum 'Ce livre est le fruit d'une vie de chercheur et d'enseignant. Sa richesse exige une etude approfondie des soixante-neuf planches ainsi que du texte, a l'ecriture dense et depouillee. La multiplicite des informations et des themes abordes revele les scribes dans toutes leurs dimension.' Cahiers de Civilisation Medievale '... it is this rich palette that makes this book so valuable and that will turn it into an indispensable resource for future generations of scholars.' Medium Aevum '... this volume provides an extraordinary resource for scholars interested in the history of handwriting, and manuscript history more generally. ... Their Hands Before Our Eyes is a book that announces protocols for the describing of scripts that are likely to be hugely influential in future scholarship. The author has outlined a wealth of ideas that will prove to be pivotal in postgraduate teaching of palaeography...' English Studies

About the Author

M.B. Parkes (1930 - 2103) was Professor Emeritus of Palaeography in the University of Oxford, and Fellow emeritus of Keble College. He was a Senior Fellow of the British Academy, a Corresponding Fellow of the Medieval Academy of America, and had been Visiting Professor at the University of Konstanz (1974 and 1980), James T. Hill Visiting Professor at the University of Minnesota (1991), and Visiting Professor of Latin at Harvard University (1997).

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