Favourite early book and why?
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At the moment I am really enjoying an early book on hunting, bought recently - The noble arte of venerie or hunting. Written and published in Elizabethan England in 1575, stunning woodcuts including a coloured title page and portraits of the Queen. Altogether evocative of the period, it captures the spirit of both the authors desire to impress the Queen and it describes what was normal and fashionable as a 'noble' past time. A very interesting read that is somewhat at odds with most peoples attitudes to cute furry animals...Although the section on training the hunting dogs would strike a chord with modern dog lovers (i.e give them lost of treats and be nice to them if you want to train them well). Why is this book more interesting and enjoyable because it was actually printed in and has survived from 1575 ? Because it is! No good reason at all. So why dont I just read the recent reprint...
Any thoughts? Ken.
That is an exquisite library you have!
I love early antiquarian books too, but the ones I love are from the late 1700s, around the time of Samuel Johnson and James Boswell. I have several editions of some of their works, but I enjoy holding and reading the editions which were published during or shortly after their lifetime.
Continuing kend's advice on reprints, there was an Englishman by the name of Edward Arber (1836-1912) who reprinted a series of early English works in the late 1800s: An English Garner. Ingatherings From Our History and Literature. I have seven of the eight volumes, whose covers are a delight. The works included in this series were rearranged and reprinted in twelve volumes 1903 and 1904 by a different publisher, but with ordinary-looking covers. The John Rylands Library at Manchester published a catalogue of both editions, viewable on google books. Some of the volumes of An English Garner are viewable on googlebooks as well.
The book has many sections in English with most of the copy in Latin. In the sixteenth century prayers were memorized in latin, while the stories of the miniatures both large and small were well known to the readers. Some of the French books of hours were so well illustrated that you didn't have to read the prayers