While having breakfast this morning, my eye fell upon a book that I had purchased a few years ago and has since been residing in the dusty chambers of my memory. It is titled BibliOdyssey: Archival Images from the Internet, and it is an interesting, contradictory item – it is a book of images from old, esoteric, and downright weird books that is taken from the BibliOdyssey blog. The blog is both proof that books as an art form are on the decline and that appreciation for the art form has arguably never been greater. With accompanying Tumblr and Twitter sites, it is a veritable treasure trove of exotic esoterica that fills the heart of any true bibliophile with joy. The book’s synopsis, taken from its publisher’s page, outlines its m.o. better than I ever could:
Across the world, libraries and institutions are just beginning to make
their collections available online, much of this amazing material goes
unnoticed by the casual surfer.
BibliOdyssey’s mission has been to search the dustier corners of the
internet and retrieve these materials for our enjoyment. Thanks to the
efforts of this singular weblog, a myriad of long-forgotten imagery has
now resurfaced. Each of these fascinating images is accompanied by
a commentary from PK, author and curator of BibliOdyssey, and a link
to the source website.
Although the site’s legal content is relatively minor, there is an interesting entry on the German Sachsenspiegel, which is the first instance of German customary law being committed to the written word. Furthermore, while it was initially written in Latin, the later translation to German also meant it was the first time that German vernacular was put on the page as well. It was an enormously important legal text in Mediaeval Europe, so it is a tremendously illuminating entry.
Looking at the examples of early versions of the Sachsenspiegel, it could only be hoped that all modern legal texts were so lavishly illustrated!