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The Manuscripts Club

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The Manuscripts Club by Christopher de Hamel
Hardcover $50.00
Nov 14, 2023 | ISBN 9780525559412

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“Exceptional in expertise, graceful in style and illustrated as vividly as its subject, this book is a masterpiece.” —Dominic Green, Wall Street Journal
“Crack the spine of any volume by de Hamel and you will step into a world of bookish wonderment. One of the most eminent living scholars and catalogers of medieval European manuscripts, de Hamel is also their greatest champion, having devoted his career to revealing their treasures and mysteries . . . makers and collectors and preservers, the people who have been responsible for helping to perpetuate one of the great cultural legacies of the pre-modern world . . . de Hamel sets aside his posture of well-earned expertise to gaze with the reader in ingenuous wonder at the work arrayed before him . . . an invitation all but the most churlish readers will gratefully accept.” —Bruce Holsinger, New York Times Book Review

“Lively . . . De Hamel’s encyclopedic knowledge and irrepressible enthusiasm for his subject animate the whole.” Booklist

“Expansive . . . De Hamel’s fascination with rare manuscripts shines throughout . . . sure to entertain.” Publishers Weekly

“Fascinating and multilayered . . . dense with facts and dates but never dry. De Hamel, manuscript consultant for Sotheby’s since 1975, is a charming and knowledgeable guide, and his ‘visits’ with his subjects—tours of their residences or libraries—brings their obsessions to vivid life . . . An impressive immersion in the storied precincts of art connoisseurship.” Kirkus

“Continuously intriguing and surprisingly lively . . . lavishly illustrated and unfailingly engaging. It is a love letter to collectors across nearly 10 centuries, written by an expert, imbued with passion for his subject . . . Once readers look inside, they will be hooked. In every respect, this title is a winner.” Library Journal (starred review)

“This book can be enjoyed on so many levels. The illustrations are exquisite and the writing . . . is intelligent, illuminating, voluptuous and mischievous. The members of the club are brought to life with sensitivity; we can’t help but find their nerdiness endearing . . . The most delightful feature of this book is, however, the author. I’ve never encountered one so willing to bare his soul, without ever explicitly setting out to do so. He throws open the doors to his world, exposing its beguiling nature. Sit at my table, he says, feast on what I adore. ‘The Club is still open for membership . . . All applicants are warmly admitted.” —Gerard DeGroot, The Times (UK)
“De Hamel . . . has the rare capacity to turn a scholarly specialism into a humane and humorous adventure . . . retains an almost lyrical sense of wonder as he unclasps each groaning tome, opens its parched pages and lightly steps into the alternative world painted by its illuminators . . . he speaks of ‘meeting a beautiful manuscript’ rather than reading it and his own book makes you feel you’ve spent time—a very long but absorbing time—in his convivial company.” —Peter Conrad, The Guardian (UK)
“Gloriously engaging and readable . . . De Hamel wears his erudition lightly, and the reader is taken deeply into the worlds of individuals who lived across almost a thousand years of history.”—Richard Ovenden, Financial Times
“Like taking a walk in excellent company . . . an exceptional book, and itself an object worth cherishing.” —Daniel Brooks, Sunday Telegraph (UK)

“Magnificently surprising . . . a gallery of unforgettable characters.” —Rowan Williams, New Statesman, Books of the Year (UK)

“De Hamel’s great gift is to tell life stories without taking anything away from the manuscripts, which remain the star of the show. Thanks to the beautiful illustrations in this wonderful book, we can see for ourselves how spellbinding an encounter with them must have been. Five years ago de Hamel entranced the world with his Meeting with Remarkable Manuscripts. This time the meetings are with remarkable manuscript owners, and the result is equally precious.” —Kathryn Hughes, Sunday Times (UK)

“Stunningly beautiful . . . The illustrations emit a light of their own, but what shines even brighter is the author’s boyish enthusiasm for his subject.” ―Times Books of the Year (UK)

“A rich feast of scarlet and gold.” —Dominic Sandbrook, Sunday Times Books of the Year (UK)

“Difficult to put down.” —Jonathan Sumption, The Spectator (UK)

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