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Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Palimpsest and medieval books

Merrimon Crawford has created a lovely site dedicated to reviewing medieval books -- Medieval Book Reviews.
She loves the period and is reviewing romance, mystery and general medieval fiction plus books with medieval echoes. As sometimes it can feel like it is an overlooked period, it is good to see someone taking the time and trouble.
The other great thing is that she has a definition of a palimpsest on her site. The site's design echoes a palimpsest, so you see the faint echoes of a manuscript behind. The idea of a twice written manuscript really intrigues me. The Smithsonian magazine had a interesting article about decoding the Archimedes Palimpsest in its March 2007 issue. And while not exactly palimpsests, I remain fascinated with the attempts to recover the scorched scrolls from the House of the Papyri near Pompeii. It is the things hidden beneath.
The other reason why the idea of a palimpsest is apt is that every book/piece of music/movie contains echoes of the writer's influences. And it can be fun to follow the shadows as it were.
Anyway, Merrimon enjoyed Taken by the Viking and has done a lovely review of it. I was especially pleased with her statement: In Taken By The Viking, Michelle Styles has an exquisite sense for detail that transports the reader into the landscape scenes and the community. You can read the rest of the review here.

3 comments:

Kate Hardy said...

VERY interesting topic, Michelle. I've just been researching palimpsest brasses - they're only discovered if the brasses are moved for some reason. Basically they were expensive so people turned them over and used the other side.

There was also a trade in reusing brasses, which is why sometimes the costume on a brass doesn't match the date on the inscription next to it - it might be that the pic was hacked off another brass and used with the new inscription.

Pages from older books were often used as part of the binding for newer books. That's always intrigued me - and oh, how wonderful it would be to find a new piece of Old English... (Stop me there. Am going into antiquarian dream!)

Michelle Styles said...

Ah yes, I thought you would be another person who was fascinated by palimpsests.
It is such a fascinating subject -- and I did not know about the palimpsest brasses, but it makes sense.

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