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Month: November 2016

First Folio! The Book that Gave us Shakespeare

First Folio! The Book that Gave us Shakespeare

Location: nationwide

January 6 2016-January 8 2017

First Folio! The Book that Gave us Shakespeare is a small traveling exhibition that is making its way around the United States as a part of the global celebration of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. The exhibition was created by the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., and will conclude Nashville on 8 January. This review is of the showing at the Michael Carlos Museum at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.

Wendy Wall. Recipes for Thought: Knowledge and Taste in the Early Modern English Kitchen

Wendy Wall. Recipes for Thought: Knowledge and Taste in the Early Modern English Kitchen. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016. xii, 312p., black and white ill. ISBN 9780812247589. US $69.95 (hardcover).

Umberto Boccioni’s Development of a Bottle in Space takes that simple, domestic form and explodes it geometrically into a complex structure quite unlike a bottle, yet derived from it. In Recipes for Thought: Knowledge and Taste in the Early Modern English Kitchen, Wendy Wall does something very like this for early modern English recipes, expanding these domestic artifacts into every implication of their structure and context.

Ashley Baynton-Williams. The Curious Map Book

Ashley Baynton-Williams. The Curious Map Book. London: The British Library, 2015. 240p., ill. ISBN 9780712356190. £25.00 (hardback).

This beautifully-illustrated book is divided into sections that chronologically address the creation and use of 100 unusual maps, from Hartmann Schedel’s world map derived from Ptolemey’s Geography (1493) to an anonymous textile map of the Middle East prepared in 2008. It is not immediately clear if the intended audience for this book was meant to be scholarly or general, although given the details concerning print and book history within the contextual information contained on the page facing each map, it seems likely that an educated reader must at least have an academic interest in one or both of these subjects.

Vittore Branca. Merchant Writers: Florentine Memoirs from the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Trans. by Murtha Baca

Vittore Branca. Merchant Writers: Florentine Memoirs from the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Trans. by Murtha Baca. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2015. x, 407p. ISBN 9781442637146. CAN $75.00 (hardback).

Students, scholars and more casual investigators of the Italian Middle Ages and early Renaissance have good reason to celebrate the publication of Murtha Baca’s expert translation of Vittore Branca’s Mercanti scrittori. If not transformed, our usual notion of the mercantile experience of this period will at least be greatly expanded and enriched by the documents assembled in this volume – ranging from the conduct book-like prescriptions of Paolo da Certaldo’s Book of Good Practices to the picaresque fanfaronade of Bonaccorso Pitti’s Memoirs – produced by the same industrious hands that count out the florins, wield the daggers, and bury the countless victims of violence and plague that darken these pages.

Anita Starosta. Form and Instability: Eastern Europe, Literature, Postimperial Difference

Anita Starosta. Form and Instability: Eastern Europe, Literature, Postimperial Difference. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 2016. x, 222 p. ISBN 9780810132023. US $34.95 (paperback).

Europe – that is, its Western half – continues to represent, by way of its literature, a powerful referent of identity for East Europeans. Anita Starosta’s investigation of the novelists’ forays into the existing Western literary frames of authority suggests that East European writers constantly measured themselves by and against Europe. She selected works, mainly in Polish and on Polish culture, by writers of Czech, Hungarian, and Polish descent, to study Europe and readability challenges.

Mark Allen and Stephanie Amsel, eds. Annotated Chaucer Bibliography, 1997-2010

Mark Allen and Stephanie Amsel, eds. Annotated Chaucer Bibliography, 1997-2010. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 2016. xx, 806p. ISBN 9780719096099. £75.00 (hardback).

In many ways, my review header would seem to contain everything you need to know about the Annotated Chaucer Bibliography. Mark Allen (the long-time bibliographer for the annual journal Studies in the Age of Chaucer [SAC]) and Stephanie Amsel (his worthy successor) continue the sequence of volumes compiled by a century’s worth of distinguished Chaucer bibliographers — Eleanor Prescott Hammond, Dudley D. Griffith, Willard E. Martin, Lorrayne Y. Baird, Hildegard Schnuttgen, and Bege K. Bowers.

Emily Steiner and Lynn Ransom, eds. Taxonomies of Knowledge: Information and Order in Medieval Manuscripts

Emily Steiner and Lynn Ransom, eds. Taxonomies of Knowledge: Information and Order in Medieval Manuscripts. Philadelphia: Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies / University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015. x, 162 p., 18 colour plates, 9 b/w ill. ISBN 9780812247596. US $45.00; UK £29.50 (hardback).

This book assembles a short collection of essays broadly relating to the different ways in which knowledge in the medieval world was organised and classified in and by manuscripts and book-collecting culture. Starting life as papers presented at an annual Schoenberg symposium on manuscript studies at the University of Pennsylvania, the volume functions as something of a festschrift for the founder of Penn Libraries’ Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies, the late Lawrence J. Schoenberg, and it offers six complementary approaches to how manuscript evidence may be used to provide insights on the ways in which literary, scientific, geographic, devotional, and hagiographic knowledge was categorised and interpreted in the later Middle Ages.

Ian Spellerberg. Reading and Writing Accessories: A Study of Paper-Knives, Paper Folders, Letter Openers and Mythical Page Turners

Ian Spellerberg. Reading and Writing Accessories: A Study of Paper-Knives, Paper Folders, Letter Openers and Mythical Page Turners. New Castle, DE: Oak Knoll Press, 2016. 128 p., ill. ISBN 9781584563501. US $60.00 (paperback).

Should twenty-first century readers be placed before the bureau of a Victorian scholar, they would be faced with a variety of unrecognisable instruments that have been rendered obsolete according to the standards of our modern age, an era when the computer reigns supreme in providing a minimalistic workspace. In his aesthetically pleasing work, Ian Spellerberg examines the impact that three of these stationary objects (the paper-knife, the paper folder, and the letter opener) had on the history of reading and print culture, while also inquiring about the trivial existence and uncertain use of the page turner.