In The Flesh: The Experience of Seeing Original Manuscripts

In The Flesh: The Experience of Seeing Original Manuscripts

I have mentioned before on this blog about my love of visiting libraries and museums, and I would love to visit more this year, There are so many cool exhibitions open at any one time in the UK and so many are free!

Last summer I made a few trips to London and went to the British Library, and it was amazing to see original material related to my studies at uni. They had some of Jane Austen’s handwritten letters and even her tiny writing desk.  They also had some breathtaking medieval manuscripts from around the world. It was so interesting seeing the intricate books of prayer such as the Beford Hours in all its illuminated glory. I also got to see some very old Sanskrit writing that I wouldn’t have come across otherwise.

In some cases, seeing manuscripts can actually be ‘in the flesh’, such as the Magna Carta, an 800 year old legal document inscribed on goat’s skin. Despite being a vegetarian, I found a strange sense of enjoyment in seeing this skin laid out before me. It was eerily exciting to see the physical manifestation of what many see as the ideology underpinning English law. Specifically, the right to a fair trial.

If you ever find yourself near King’s Cross station with time to spare, it’s worth seeing what’s going on at the British Library. I also went to an amazing Shakespeare exhibition at the Bodleian Library in Oxford. I also have a friend who’s curating a poetry exhibit at Christ’s College Library on 17th July so hopefully I can make that!

http://blogs.bl.uk/digitisedmanuscripts/2015/09/how-to-make-the-most-of-digitised-manuscripts.html 

 

 

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Walden, Or Life in the Woods

Walden, Or Life in the Woods

Walden is a novel by the 19th century writer and transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau (1817–62). It describes the two years he spent living in a wooden cabin by Walden Pond, and the surrounding forests and town.

It’s quite hard to get into this book to start with, or even understand what transcendentalism is or how you spell it. But it is a rewarding read. It’s also made me really want to visit the pond in Massachusetts, (another impossible word to spell). Thoreau describes life at the pond in such a detailed and hypnotising way, that it’s really clear he is describing a spiritual connection with nature. He talks about being ‘rapt in a revery, amidst the pines and hickories and sumachs, in undisturbed solitude and stillness, while the birds sang around or flitted noiseless through the house’1

There are some really relaxing descriptions of the water; ‘I have spent many an hour, when I was younger, floating over its surface as the zephyr willed, having paddled my boat to the middle, and lying on my back across the seats, in a summer forenoon, dreaming awake’….

I am obsessed with large bodies of water, but I usually hang out by sea cliffs or a coastline. It was interesting to read about the curious behaviour of the pond, which is technically a kettle-hole, formed by separating glaciers thousands of years ago.

The best thing about this book is that you can experience similar joy in nature without having to travel to this exact lake. Just listening to birds you can experience; ‘The faint silvery warbling heard over the partially bare and moist fields from the blue-bird, the song-sparrow, and the red-wing, as if the last flakes of winter tinkled as they fell!’1 (p.359).

Even though I read it a while ago, it’s one of those books that has had a lasting impression on me, and I think it will continue to do so.

[1] Henry David Thoreau, Walden and Civil Disobedience (London: Penguin, 1983), p.157.

Well, I’m Back

Well, I’m Back

Looks like it’s time to do a post about coming back from my unofficial ‘hiatus’. I have really wanted to write on this blog again, and I’ve attempted a few drafts, but now I want to actually do it.

I think part of the problem with starting to write again was the feeling that it had to be perfect before I tried again. I have weird ideas floating around from when I read a new book but I always feel like it would be too much effort to type a whole thing about it!

So I guess I’m back to get some ideas out before I have to think too much about editing them. So, to whoever’s reading this, I hope  you enjoy the next few posts of badly spelled ramblings!

As well as this, I’ve had a few things going on in real life, such as starting a new job recently,  and all the social opportunities that came with it. I’ll also be going on holiday for a week soon, so I’ll be posting some pictures from that!