The five tasks of Friends With An Old Book should lead us closer to our book in a special way. When we got our first assignment almost a year ago to build up a friendship with an old book, I could not really imagine how that would work. The books were assigned randomly so I did not know what was expecting me on the dusty shelves in Einsiedeln.
With our first task we should deal a little bit with the history background of our book. “Who wrote the book?, when was it written? and where is it to be found today?” were the given guidelines. My book “L’Ancienne Rome” is already around 307 years old and lives on one of the mentioned old and dusty shelves in Einsiedeln. More precisely at the Werner Oechslin library. My first contact with the book was special. To be honest, I did not expect such a tiny little book waiting for me on the other side of Zurich. It was lying there prepared on the table, waiting for me to be examined.
The size of the book is a sexto-decimo. It has a total of 295 pages and it mostly contains text paragraphs rather than illustrated pages. I tried to read myself through the pages, but I could not understand a word. As you can already guess from the title, the book is written in French, which is not exactly my strength. The oldécriture was very difficult to comprehend and the few illustrated drawings did not help to make it any easier. Although, I figured out that my book is about ancient buildings and their surroundings. Even with the help of the world wide web I was not able to find out more about it. All the illustrations are hand drawings which were obviously drawn with a lot of effort and in a precisely manner.
The third and fourth task were meant to bring me closer to my old book. Due to the fact that it was written in old French, I did not get along well with my old companion. In general, I was never friends with the French language. Not a good pre-condition for a start of a glorious friendship. When I look back now, I have never really been on good terms with this tiny little French book at all. Even though, I have tried really hard.
In conclusion, it was a long and stressful relationship that I do not consider as an actual friendship. The language made it hard for me to cut through the barrier that was in front of me and “L’Ancienne Rome”. In the end, I must admit that we have never really created the bond that I wanted to develop between us. Nevertheless, it was a funny experience and, in my opinion, a rather silly imagination to think, that you could actually become friends with an old book. I am already friends with other books, but not with French ones. And I will never be.