The Manuscripts Club: The People Behind a Thousand Years of Medieval Manuscripts

Books on Tape. Nov. 2023. 17:25 hrs. ISBN 9780593629529. $95. HIST
De Hamel’s Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts showcased some of the best-known handmade books of the Middle Ages and Renaissance. His latest engrossing work shines a spotlight on 11 men and one woman who insured the survival of such priceless manuscripts over the centuries. Members of de Hamel’s imaginary manuscripts club are a diverse group of collectors and preservers culled from eight centuries. He chose each of them to highlight different kinds of interactions with manuscripts, ranging from Saint Anselm, the 12th-century monk who promoted the idea of copying and distributing manuscripts, to Jean de France, Duc de Berry (1340–1416), one of the most important royal patrons of manuscripts in medieval Europe, to Belle da Costa Greene, the Black librarian who was hired in 1905 to curate and organize the extensive collection of J.P. Morgan. Narrator John Lee presents these fascinating mini biographies in a warm, intimate tone, which perfectly matches the narrative’s conversational style. His polished delivery and leisurely pace nicely frame de Hamel’s work, providing consistency across the wide-ranging eras and individuals the book covers. De Hamel narrates his own introduction and epilogue in a well-paced, lively style.
VERDICT Libraries who purchased Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts should acquire this marvelous companion piece.
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