To put your quill where your mouth is

Each one of us is an archeologist, a witness, active or passive, of the history of the material and immaterial culture around us. We don’t have to be academically-minded grave-diggers or shovel-wielding students of antiquity to exercise our archeological sense. An archeologist is someone who understands that he or she is surrounded by ghosts, and…

The book is an iPad which…

Just imagine for a second. The book is an iPad which instead of a screen has paper leaves which may be turned, and contains no plastic. The pen is an extension of your fingers which comes between you and your thumb. Paper is a touch screen without the capacity for self-erasure. The library is a…

A petition for a public reading of Dante

When’s the last time a group of local residents petitioned the government to arrange for a public reading of Dante’s Commedia? The answer to that question is: the summer of 1373. In the summer of that year, a petition was presented to the Signoria of Florence, on behalf of a number of Florentine citizens, asking…

King James I’s love of books

I knew sundry things about James I but not that he was a book-lover. Writing in his Anatomy of Melancholy, the Oxford scholar¬†Robert Burton (1577-1640) left us an unexpected portrait¬†of the king who contrasts the claustral office of the monarch with the freedom of the life of a scholar. Burton recalls that King James 1605,…