scholars and rogues

Book Porn for Scholars (and Rogues)

By Rori Black

Every winter I snuggle up with a copy of Umberto Eco’s Name of the Rose, losing myself in the maze of his scriptorium. I can smell the unique, musky odor of old books, the oily metallic tang of ink, and hear the rustling of ancient manuscripts.

Recently a friend who knows my love for incunabula and the arcane, gifted me with a link to The Ancient Sacred Text Archive to add to my “book porn” bookmarks. The site includes the full or slightly abridged text for everything from the Mahabharata, one of the longest epic poems in history, to Tolkien’s source texts. Their excellent search functionality makes it easy to find your favorite hermetic text.

To fulfill your need for eye candy, there are several libraries that have digitized and uploaded their catalogs of illuminated documents and graphic-heavy books such as Hooke’s Micrographia at The Gutenberg Project. Psymon not only reproduces old books and manuscripts, but they are an amazing resource for art, typography, and beautiful title pages from old masterpieces. Columbia University has a diverse collection of digitized images from manuscripts from as late as the 8th century CE.

While many of us will never be able to hold one of these precious works of art, let alone own one, it’s comforting to know that they will last indefinitely thanks to preservationists and digital archives.

Categories: scholars and rogues

6 replies »

  1. Ooh, nice stuff, Rori. I knew about Columbia’s stuff and, of course, Gutenberg, but the Ancient Sacred Text Archive is a delightful new source.

    Thanks for this. Gotta go ponder some mysteries now…

  2. I love the Sacred Text Archive. The stuff in their “Esoteric” area is amazing, and very well done. I do a lot of reading on Hermeticism, Gnosticism, and other esoteric subjects, and I find lots of good stuff there.

    I have a great collection of books at home, but being able to find and read obscure books online is a real treat.

    Ever read The Kybalion? It’s there, too.

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