Two semesters ago, following some minor complications, I was assigned the book “Oeuvres d’architecture” by the author Marie-Joseph Peyre. I was glad to have received a French artwork which I could understand a fraction of it. At the beginning of the exercise I was quite skeptical of whether I could really build a friendship with an old book.
The first exercise was rather easy and helped us to get acquainted with the online platform of the ETH library. We had to search for the original edition of the book in the ETH archives. I was lucky that my work was available in ETH’s own archives.
For the second exercise I joined some of my fellow students to inspect our books. Prior to that I had already found the original edition on the internet and took a first glimpse of the book. Nevertheless, I was surprised about the size of it. The PDF format being 32x47cm reminded me of my old childhood books, which featured many beautiful pictures. It became clear, that the book also shares similarities to those of my childhood. It contains a limited amount of text and concentrates mainly on the very finely elaborated illustrations. Some of these are larger than a double page and must be folded out separately. I also had the opportunity to read a few sections, which worked surprisingly well, considering that the book is over 300 years old and was written in French. Moreover, the structure of the chapters is quite simple. After a title and a text passage, which briefly and concisely introduced the topic, the large, supplementary illustrations follow. Most impressive were the very precisely drawn plans of M.-J. Peyre.
The personal experience I shared with the book is much to my content and was particularly important in regard to our friendship. For me it was like opening a small, incredibly old treasure chest and discovering all its secrets. Looking back, this was certainly the most interesting task we had to work on.
During the next tasks I never found the same access to the book again. This was mainly because working with the PDF version was only half the fun, as it does not do justice to the original work and its large illustrations at all. That was also the reason my passion for the book ceased. Our newly formed friendship was in a crisis, which was reflected by my rather scarcely edited tasks.
I experienced the synthetic connections, that were created at the end between the books, as exciting. Furthermore, I was surprised that my book was assigned to a word cloud, which at first glance, does not fit my book in terms of content. For whatever reason that is, I will perhaps figure out in the next few days.
I am happy that I got the privilege to explore such an old book and to build a somewhat friendship with it. The direct reading in the old edition has inspired me a lot and I would like to use this opportunity oftentimes in the future.