Last year I was assigned to become friends with the book Architectura von Vestungen written by Daniel Specklin.
At first, I was relieved that my book was in German. It’s easier to become friends with someone – or in this case something – which or who has the same first language. (Just for clarification: German is not my mother tongue, but it’s the language I know best.) Well, that’s what I thought at first, to my shock I found it very hard to read. There were a lot of words I couldn’t decipher nor understand. Ironically, I used to be fascinated by the old font, lettering written so elegantly with a quill which I have tried to copy a few times. But still, I struggled to read one whole sentence and I had to look up a lot of its content to truly understand my friend.
Another thing that took me by surprise was its sheer size. I knew that the book had quite a volume and several pages by accessing online versions of it during our first task. But even with a first impression I still managed to underestimate its size. I remember the day I actually met my book. I had crafted myself scaffold which was decent in size in order to film my book from above. However, the scaffold turned out to be useless as my books with its unexpected mass wouldn’t even fit under my handcrafted project. Needless to say, I ‘ve misjudged the book’s size completely but neither expect the condition of its preservation. Surprisingly, it was incredibly well-maintained.
I never realized how important the dimensions of a book can be and how much thought was put into it by its author in the first place. The different aspects and various features such as its size and drawings really emphasize the function and hidden meanings of a book.
I just wish I’d realized this sooner and that I had this knowledge before I actually met my book. If the circumstances had allowed me to, I would have loved to meet my book again after the virtual visit to Einsiedeln. I would have known what to look out for and which things to be aware of in order to enhance the understanding of the intentions for writing this book. Before the lecture, I‘ve always focused on my own assumptions and failed to elaborate the author’s concepts and motives further or from different perspectives.
After all this task was a great experience and I’ve gained a new perception on a book’s meaning and message through this assignment. It’s astonishing how many old books are still in amazing condition through careful preservation only waiting for us to browse through and unfold its secrets.