Because of their rarity, ancient manuscripts often hold a particular fascination for those who love the written word. It is a great treat to see them on display in museums and library collections and now two books published this year offer bibliophiles and scholars the opportunity to experience the Greek manuscripts from the University of Michigan Library collection from the comfort of home.
A Catalogue of Greek Manuscripts at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Volume 1 by Nadezhda Kavrus-Hoffmann with the collaboration of Pablo Alvarez is a comprehensive, fully illustrated catalogue of the largest collection of Greek manuscripts in America, including 110 codices and fragments ranging from the fourth to the nineteenth century. The collection, held in the Special Collections Research Center of the University of Michigan Library, contains many manuscripts from Epirus and the Meteora monasteries built on the tops of giant cliffs in Thessaly. Nadezhda Kavrus-Hoffmann has based the manuscript descriptions on the latest developments in the fields of paleography and codicology, including the newest recommendations of the Institute for Research and History of Texts in Paris. The catalogue includes high-resolution plates of all the manuscripts, allowing researchers to compare the entries with other Greek manuscripts around the world. This catalogue contains a treasure trove of fascinating information related to Byzantine culture that will be available for the first time to scholars working on various disciplines of the humanities such as Classical and Byzantine Studies, Art History, Medieval Studies, Theology, and History.
Nadezhda Kavrus-Hoffmann is an independent scholar and Pablo Alvarez is Curator of the Special Collections Research Center at the University of Michigan Library.
Tradition and Individuality: Bindings from the University of Michigan Greek Manuscript Collection by Julia Miller, published by The Legacy Press, came about as the result of an irresistible invitation: to examine and describe the bindings on 100 Greek manuscripts in the University of Michigan Library’s rare-book collection, which date from the fourth to the nineteenth century, according to the book’s online description. This book is intended as a companion to the two-volume catalogue of the University of Michigan Greek manuscripts written by Nadezhda Kavrus-Hoffmann, both volumes published by the University of Michigan Press.
Most of the bindings are traditionally Greek, but there are also numerous hybrid Greek-style bindings and several anomalies, including Mich. Ms. 76 with bridled leather boards and Mich. Ms. 96, which is bound in traditional Armenian style.
Each binding description is accompanied by documentary color photographs of the major components – covers, spines, edges, endbands, etc. – as well as details, most taken by University of Michigan digital photographer Randal Stegmeyer. Pablo Alvarez, U-M Library’s curator of manuscripts and early printed works, has contributed a fascinating introduction covering the history of the acquisition of the Greek manuscript collection. Kyle Clark, U-M Library conservation technician, has contributed an outstanding appendix wherein he details his study of one of the Greek manuscripts, Mich. Ms. 79, and the model he created based on his examination of the original. His text is accompanied by x-radiographs of the original cover, photographs, and line drawings.
Tradition and Individuality: Bindings from the University of Michigan Greek Manuscript Collection by Julia Miller is available online through The Legacy Press website.
A Catalogue of Greek Manuscripts at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Volume 1 by Nadezhda Kavrus-Hoffmann with the collaboration of Pablo Alvarez is available on the University of Michigan Press website.