Saturday, April 26, 2014

Editors of the Book*

I had the chance to attend a workshop at the NYPL on the Complutense Polyglot, a multilingual bible composed in early sixteenth-century Spain. The workshop was led by a colleague I know from #medievalTwitter (and it was really nice to finally meet him in person this week) for two classes of students at Yeshiva University and Stern College. In addition to learning about the book, it was also a great opportunity to observe someone who is a very lively teacher and has developed an effective way of teaching history of the book for beginning-level students.

The really poignant thing, a completely unintended** and subtle irony of the talk was that one of the themes was the extent to which major institutional early modern library collections that are still intact even today in Spain are instrumental in being able to reconstruct the editorial process that created the Complutense Polyglot. Scholars are able to make determinations about what was read in conjunction with what else and which editors, based on what is known about their travel and living patterns, would have had access to what kinds of sources; and that says an awful lot. And here was the value of institutional library collections as collections being lauded in a library that is on the verge of dismantling its own.


*I briefly thought of entitling this post 'And the Word Was Made Flesh' but ultimately that seemed more kinds of inappropriate than kinds of appropriate.
**I'm reading a strange critique of the internationalist fallacy this week. More on this soonish.

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