The illuminated manuscripts of the Middle Ages are among the greatest works of European art and literature. We are dazzled by them and recognize their crucial role in the transmission of knowledge. However, we generally think much less about the countless men and women who made, collected and preserved them through the centuries, and to whom they owe their existence.
Lovingly written and lavishly illustrated ... One of the most eminent living scholars and catalogers of medieval European manuscripts, de Hamel is also their greatest champion, having devoted his career to revealing their treasures and mysteries to scholarly and public audiences alike ... As the book’s title might suggest, its tone is deliberately clubby. De Hamel imagines a series of intimate conversations between himself and his historical subjects as he roams across centuries, nations and creeds in his pursuit of the larger narrative of preservation ... At the end of his introduction, de Hamel beckons us through the doors to greet his cast: 'Come to dinner. Let us meet them.' It’s an invitation all but the most churlish readers will gratefully accept.
He traces the four-century age of the medieval manuscript and its longer afterlife through the lives of its makers and collectors. Exceptional in expertise, graceful in style and illustrated as vividly as its subject, this book is a masterpiece.
De Hamel’s book is lavishly illustrated and unfailingly engaging. It is a love letter to collectors across nearly 10 centuries, written by an expert, imbued with passion for his subject ... This book will fly off the shelves. Once readers look inside, they will be hooked. In every respect, this title is a winner.