Over the last year and through the different tasks I became acquainted with the book „Livre d’architecture“ by Jaques du Cerceau, published in 1582. Just reading those few words were a bad start for a friendship: the book assigned to me was obviously written in french, a language I am very bad at. To my relief, we didn’t need to read our books for the tasks.
After the shock by the book’s language I started to wonder if you even can become a friend with a book, how a book-friendship is defined and if it is possible to get to know a book without reading it.
But just by doing the first task by translating the book’s full title (which took me quite some time) and identifying the book’s full details gave me some insight about what the book might want to tell me. It is an architecture book with descriptions and plans of french moated castles. I liked that with this task we got to know how to work with book search portals like for example the ETH Library Search Portal. Because the whole task happened online I missed a real face to „talk“ to. Fortunately the following contact-task started right there.
By studying the real book „in person“ during the second task I obtained an overview of its dimensions, layout and how the text and the illustrations are connected. Because my book was in the Werner Oechslin library in Einsiedeln, it felt more like a real friendship as I would get on the train to go visit an „old friend“. On the other hand it also was an unusual meeting with a friend as I had to make an appointment to even see the book. Arriving there I had 20 minutes to get to know the book better which at first I thought was going to take ages. But I was wrong: the time passed quite fast as i examined the book. Very interesting for me was to discover little details such as the embossing and edges within the paper as a result of the printing method or that the text and the illustrations were printed with different techniques.
The following third task was very sobering. I couldn’t locate any translations, abridgments, reeditions and reprints expect the three printed versions (from 1582 two and 1615 one, all in french) I already had found in the first task.
Another slightly bored task was the fourth one. It felt more like a repetition of the earlier tasks and I didn’t learned much that I not already had found out. The only difference was to focus a bit more closely on the font which was exactly what you would imagine from an old book and was therefore not surprising.
After spending several hours with my book over the past year, I wouldn’t say I became friends with it but also it is no stranger to me. It is something in between, more like an old acquaintance, because I know its outward features like the dress style or the face of a person, but I don’t really know its inner character like a persons feelings and thoughts.