I’m always pleased to turn a corner and discover something I’d known nothing about, another oddly-shaped puzzle piece that must fit in somewhere. Recent case-in-point: at my much-loved local indy bookstore I stumbled upon a book about books in Renaissance Venice, Alessandro Marzo Magno’s Bound in Venice: The Serene Republic and the Dawn of the Book and it begged to be taken home (visiting a good bookstore is for me akin to ‘going to look at a puppy’, about which my sister said “there’s no such thing as…”). Started reading it, and it’s delightful in several dimensions. For one thing, the translation from the Italian is spritely and you have the sense that the original must be especially well-written; and it’s stuffed with tempting asides. Here’s a description of the contents of a bookshop:

…prints, views of cities near and far, images of people that viewers would be unlikely ever to see first-hand; books in foreign or remote languages, but spoken by many visitors to the city, which as a melting pot is perhaps rivaled only by present-day New York. So here we have works in Armenian, a Bohemian bible, a text in the Glagolitic alphabet of medieval Croatia, another in Cyrillic, and, naturally, given that the Jewish ghetto in Venice, established in 1516, is the first in history, numerous volumes in Hebrew… (pg 17)

Well, ‘Glagolitic’ isn’t breakfast-table conversation out our way, or wasn’t until today. Good old Wikipedia is right there with everything I wanted to know and then some, and the facts are duly filed away against the day when the knowledge might come in handy in some as-yet-unforeseen way. And so it goes, day by day and book by book.

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