Libraries of Memory

Jennifer Summit

in Memory's Library

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print August 2008 | ISBN: 9780226781716
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226781723 | DOI:
Libraries of Memory

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  • Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)


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This book takes libraries as its subject, exploring questions that today's readers of medieval books must continually ask themselves: How did this book, so far from its original place of production and reception, reach me in the present? And how have its original meanings changed in that transportation across time and place, from monastery to well-lighted and guarded modern reading room? To begin to address these questions, the study focuses on a pivotal two-hundred-year period in the history of libraries in England, from 1431 to 1631—a period that spans the initial collecting activities of Humfrey, Duke of Gloucester (1390–1447), whose foundational bequests to Oxford University are still commemorated in the Bodleian's Duke Humfrey's Library, to the death of Robert Cotton (1571–1631), whose library has been called “the most important collection of manuscripts ever assembled in Britain by a private individual.” An overview of the subsequent chapters is also presented.

Keywords: library; medieval books; English libraries; England; Duke of Gloucester; Robert Cotton; Oxford University; Bodleian Library

Chapter.  6501 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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