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The most beautiful paper we’ve heard! @freelibraryrarebooks Lewis E 16, a 15th century manuscript from Germany. Soooo nice and smooth and creamy! #bookstagram #bookhistory #manuscriptsoundstudies #manuscript #medievalmanuscript #germany (at University of Pennsylvania)

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The Heart Book is regarded as the oldest Danish ballad manuscript. It is a collection of 83 love ballads compiled in the beginning of the 1550’s in the circle of the Court of King Christian III.

Shown above is the beginning of ballad no. 43. 

Store længsel, du går mig nær (Great Yearning, thou touches me). 

A later reader – the otherwise unknown Christen Masse – has added some notes, i.a. this pious hope: “gvd ende oc vinde alle mit er lende til en god oc gledelig ende amen” (may god end and turn my misery into a good and happy ending amen).

We do not know who compiled the ballads and instigated the writing of the Heart Book. All ballads except one – no. 66 – have probably been written by the same hand.

19.5 x 15 cm.

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Hello, all my lovely followers! Long time no see! Sorry for the prolonged lack of original posts, but I’ve been crazy busy at my new job as Library Technician at Smithsonian Libraries (@smithsonianlibraries)! I’m working primarily at the Cullman Library in the Natural History Museum, which houses the Smithsonian’s special collections relating to natural history, although I’ve also spent some time at the Dibner Library, which is home to special collections relating to the physical sciences.

Although I’ve only been there for two months, I’ve had the opportunity to do and see some amazing things! From a shelving unit for miniature books to a well-loved 13th century Armenian manuscript (MSS 1675B), the Libraries are truly full of wonders great and small. One of my favorites is the volvelle, or rotating calculator, found in a 16th century alchemical manuscript (MSS 867B)– I just love it when books are interactive! Expect more from that one in the future.

5 Things I’ve I’ve Learned While Writing My First Manuscript

Hello and welcome to my first blog post! I’m Laura – an aspiring writer, as you may have guessed by the title of this post – and I, like many others, have made a lot of horrible mistakes and revelations with my first manuscript. While I’m only halfway through my first draft, being the masochistic, self-embarrassing person that I am, I thought I’d share what those lessons were.

1.      The first line is hard.

It’s even harder when you put all this pressure on it that you really don’t need. It’s just a collection of words, just like the rest of the novel.

Don’t fret.

2.     Don’t go back and edit.

There were so many times when I finished a chapter or a scene and then realized: Shit. That’s not how I mapped that character. Or, oh my god, I just missed out a HUGELY important part of that character’s backstory.

What I’ve learned is that it’s the hardest but the best thing you can do for your novel to just. Keep. Pushing. Through.

You’ve got to grit your teeth and remember that this is what second drafts are for, because if you go back and rewrite something every time you notice a mistake, you’ll never finish the stupid thing.

3.     Outlines can be really fun. Or they can be torture.

This lesson is kind of unavoidable as a newbie writer. If you’ve never outlined your book before, you won’t know what sort of outline you like. So you could get 20,000 words into the story (like me), realize you screwed up your outline because you did it on Word instead of post-it notes, and lose your damn mind.

“Why is everything so disorganized!?” You scream, before slamming your head against the keyboard for the millionth time.

Take a deep breath. Stop writing. Redo your freaking outline.

4.     Finish ALL character construction before you start writing.

I didn’t take this step seriously because I didn’t take my writing seriously in the beginning; it was just something I was dabbling in which I hadn’t done in years.

But if you’re considering writing a novel, you have to finish all your character construction 100% before you can start the novel.

A lot of my characters have half-finished outlines. So sadly, I’m gonna have to take a break from all the fun writing I’ve been doing to map them out halfway through the story.

5.     Don’t be too hard on yourself.

I’m actually pretty good at remembering this lesson, but I think every writer finds it invaluable.

You don’t need to be the next F. Scott Fitzgerald in the writing world to have an incredible work in your hands – or, well, your head.

Remember that it’s okay to make the above mistakes, and many more (seriously, I could list hundreds). Just push the negative thoughts away for a moment, and keep tapping at that keyboard. Good things are bound to come out of it if you work hard enough.

So that’s all I’ve got to say on the subject. I’m sure I’ll have plenty more to talk about once my novel is finished and once I move onto the editing phase for my novel. Thanks for reading this far and I’d love to hear some feedback!

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Extremely Rare Neo-Sumerian Palace Messenger Tablet from Iri-Sagrig, Dated 2027 BC

A clay pillow-shaped messenger tablet from an important palace archive of the Sumerian city Iri-Saĝrig, dated to 2027 BC, with cuneiform text on both sides: “1 roasted mutton, 5 sila soup Ur-šu-suen, chancellor’s assistant when he came for the ’secretary’ of Nana’s field; 3 sila soup, 2 fish Laqipum, cup bearer, royal messenger when he went for royal offerings; 1 sila soup, 1 fish Suškin, royal messenger when he came from Der to the king’s place; 1 sila soup, 1 fish Kuganum, royal messenger; /REVERSE/ 1 sila soup, 1 fish Ilianum, royal messenger when they went to Der; 1 sila soup, 1 fish Namhani, royal messenger; 1 sila soup, 1 fish Lu-šulgira, royal messenger when they came to the governor’s place; 2 sila soup, 2 fishŠugatum, royal messenger when he came to capture fugitive soldier-workers, servants of Ninhursag; 1 sila soup, 1 fish Pululu, eguary when he went for the sikum-mules; A disbursement for the month Nigenlila, 19th day.”

This text dates to the second year of King Ibbi-Sin, the last king of the Ur III. The text is particularly rare because almost all of the named messengers are followed by a description their mission: “Suškin, royal messenger when he came from Der to the king’s place.” The tablet records rations of food and drink distributed by the government to royal messengers. According to Prof. David Owen the Iri-Saĝrig archive is probably the archive of the governor whose office was in the local palace. The king and other members of the royal family occasionally traveled to Iri-Saĝrig, perhaps on their way to or from Nippur or other towns. No town in Sumer was visited more often by the king than Iri-Saĝrig. This may explain the presence of so many royal functionaries associated with the town.

Nature in her forge

(Roman de la Rose vv. 15897-15905: ‘Nature, whose thoughts were on the things enclosed beneath the sky, had entered her forge, where she was concentrating all her efforts upon the forging of individual creatures to continue the species. For individuals give such life to species that, however much death pursues them, she can never catch up with them.’ – transl. F. Horgan)

Roman de la Rose, Bruges ca. 1490-1500

BL, Harley 4425, fol. 140r

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A recent Spell Book order I finished. It’s a large, 600-page book bound in what I believe is sheep skin. A gilded crescent moon shines on the front cover, surrounded by a triple-line border. 

Gustave Flaubert’s travel diary among rare books at historic sale 

“The handwritten manuscript is page after page of scratched out notes, smudges, comments and ink blots that reveal just how arduous the French novelist Gustave Flaubert found the writing process.

Celebrated for his first and most famous published work, Madame Bovary, which took five years to write, Flaubert was meticulous about the style and elegance of his work.

The 277-page Flaubert travel diary […] was written in 1848 when Flaubert and his friend Maxime Du Camp went walking in Brittany and decided to write a joint work: Flaubert the odd-number chapters, Du Camp the even. They were never published in his lifetime.” [source]