This past year I was assigned to become friends with Hans Blums “Des berühmten Meister Hans Blumen von Lor am Mäin Nuzlichs Säulenbuch, oder, kunstmässige Beschreibung von dem Gebrauch der V. Säulen : wie namlich ein Werkmeister dieselbigen wol ergründen, recht zusamen setzen und sie mit Vortheil und Lob zu allerhand Architecturen nutzlich und zierlich gebrauchen solle : samt anderen dazu gehörigen nohtwendigen Architecturstucken, alss von Rundunggesimsen, Capitälen, Gesimsen auf die Aufzüge und dergleichen : jtem unterschidlichen Contrafacturen viler alter und schöner Gebäuen : von wolbewährten Antiquiteten abgerissen, nach des Euclidis, Vitruvii, Arcimedis und anderer hochgelehrter Machematischen Reglen und Ausstheilungen der Nohtdurft nach erläuteret und den kunstliebenden Teutschen, so sich des Cirkels, Linials und Richtscheites annemmen, zu lieb an Tag gegeben“. Yes, that is the whole title of my book. I was a little shocked and overwhelmed when I first heard about the tasks we had to fulfil. Become friends with a four-hundred-year-old book? At the beginning I was very sceptical about it. “How should I build up a friendship with a book?”, I asked myself. In spite of having doubts about the task I tried to start as impartially as I could to connect with my assigned book. “I can judge at the end of the one-year friendship with my book over these tasks”, I said to myself.
Now, after this year is over, I have officially the chance (or better the assignment) to review my experiences I made during this year. And honestly, my doubts were proven right. I just couldn’t find myself building up a friendship with my book. First, there was the language barrier. Admittedly, I was one of the lucky ones who got a book in German, but after all it was written in old German and the font was extremely ornate which made it hard for me to read. Additionally, my start with “friends with an old book” didn’t run as smoothly as I hoped it would be. Due to the fact that my first assigned book (“Wunderbarliche kostliche Gemaelde” by Rudolf Wyssenbach) wasn’t currently available at the Oechslin library in Einsiedeln I had to restart my friendship with another book (“Des berühmten Meister Hans Blumen von Lor am Mäin Nuzlichs Säulenbuch”).
But despite my difficulties becoming friends with my old book, I really enjoyed some of the tasks. For example, the second task, the visit to the library in Einsiedeln, helped me to fully understand how old these books really are. Getting in touch with my book in real life and not just reading facts about it in the internet was an interesting experience and made me realise what it meant to publish a book 400 years ago. It blew my mind how much effort was put into printing these books: the beautiful (but hardly readable) font, the artistically title page of the book and not to mention all those detailed illustrations of the columns and architraves.
Running parts of my book through an OCR engine for the fourth task of “friends with an old book” turned out to be very difficult because of the complicate and ornate font. But despite these difficulties I got a deeper understanding of what the book is all about and I even learned some things about the Doric order.
To sum up, I made some new experiences during this “friendship” with my book, considering I have never engaged with such an old book over such a long time. But still, most of the time I just asked myself “How should I build up a friendship with a book?”.