Wednesday, 30 September 2020

Rare books 32: Spain goes into France

The first edition translation into French of Francisco de Santa Maria’s (1569-1649) history of the Discalced Carmelites, both déchaussé and déchausée, published only 93 years after the order’s formation (Paris, 1655). Notes: The Teresian Reform was an internal revolution in the Roman Church, similar to that of the Society of Jesus. Migration of the movement into France required tact, especially in the aftermath of that nation’s religious wars. While amenable to many of its tenets, French sensibilities were not always easy with some of the stricter Spanish practices, an issue that has never gone away in the order’s long history. To admire Saint Teresa doesn’t mean not having an argument with her. This volume tells the story-so-far to those with a personal investment. It is superbly laid out with clear print, deep margins, paragraph pointers and decorations. A second volume of this monumental testament, height 36 cm., was published in Paris in 1666; I am rather hoping a copy of the companion volume resides in one of the yet unopened boxes of this year’s extraordinary donation from the nuns north of the Murray River.

Tuesday, 22 September 2020

Rare books 31: Nazarene Bible


Noah takes some measurements

240 wood engravings copied from the work of the German painter Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld (1794-1872). (Paris & Leipzig, 1860) Notes: Schnorr was a member of the Nazarene School, a Romantic reaction to neo-classicism, its aim to revive the spiritual in pictorial art. ‘Nazarene’ was a term of derision used by the school’s critics who scorned the Bible picture clichés of flowing hair and flowing robes. They were Pre-Raphaelites before the Pre-Raphaelites, having an important influence on that English school of art. The Nazarenes had dispersed by the time Rossetti & Co. got to work, and one cannot help feeling that Schorr had subsequently gone over to the neo-classical dark side by the time some of these works were made. Others discern a post-Raphaelite floridity, typical of the late Renaissance. A scanty record for this bulk load is available at the Bibliothèque nationale de France, Notice No.  FRBNF40360702, scanty especially in regard to the team of artists who made the woodcuts from the Schnorr originals. Cataloguers steady themselves at this point to ask the main question: who are the people primarily responsible for this big time picture book, Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld, or his copyists? Names do not leap instantly from the page, only obscure initials in corners against the placename Dresden.  


Jael kills Sisera

David kills Goliath

Life as it never is. The prosperity of Job.

The Magi, in fact the whole entourage

Not passing by on the other side

Monday, 21 September 2020

Rare books 30: The French discover Desert Spirituality

19th century six volume revised edition of the 18th century lives, sayings and practice of the Egyptian Desert Fathers, and Mothers, by Michel-Ange Marin (1697-1767) (Paris, 1863-64) Notes: This set has sent me scurrying to find out about the reception history of early monasticism, i.e. who knew what when in the modern era about 4th and 5th century asceticism in Egypt and Syria. Today the literature in English on desert spirituality is thorough and popular. The scholarly work has helped revolutionise our knowledge and informed our manner of living in chosen self-isolation. This was not the case, at all, when Marin produced his magnum opus. The French were well in advance, leaving one to wonder about the extent of Marin’s sources, both primary and secondary. The set has also confounded my preconceptions about the reading habits of Carmelite nuns in the Victorian age. These books are falling apart from overuse, catastrophically so with Volume IV, which includes accounts of John Cassian’s establishment of a monastery outside Marseilles in 415. We recall that Rome fell in 410. The French sisters obviously showed great interest in what had happened in their part of the world, even from the distance of New South Wales. They made efforts to protect the books by covering them in brown paper; the pages are in good condition. The set is not listed on Trove, but will be when our holdings are added.       

Thursday, 17 September 2020

The Bus Trip 12: Rampur Raza Library, India

And so, colleagues, here we are on the final day of our bibliographical multi-omnibus circumnavigation of the world. Time is eternal, especially in India, so it’s okay if we are a few minutes late today. 

The Ministry of Culture of the Indian Government maintains the National Mission for Manuscripts, an autonomous organisation established to survey, locate and conserve Indian manuscripts. The Mission runs 32 conservation units across India, one of them being the razzle-dazzle Raza Library in the city of Rampur in Uttar Pradesh. Hence the Library’s amazing website, which you could spend a lot of time browsing: 

Time is of the essence. This is why in 1975 this grand library, which had fallen into some disrepair, was taken over by the government. Quote: “It contains very rare and valuable collections of manuscripts, historical documents, specimens of Islamic calligraphy, miniature paintings, astronomical instruments and rare illustrated works in Arabic and Persian languages besides 60,000 printed books. 

It has been difficult finding a guide who speaks English. Sometimes a picture paints a thousand words. If we split up into two groups, half of you can go here: 

Rampur Raza has been, ever since its foundation in 1774, a treasure house of Indo-Islamic culture, its patrons the successive Nawabs of Rampur.  Since 1957 the collection has been housed within Hamid Manzil, a fort designed by W.C. Wright during the Raj. Wright’s architecture synthesizes elements from Islamic, Hindu and Victorian Gothic in a style known as ‘Indo-Saracenic’. You can’t miss it. 

Sometimes music speaks louder than words. The other half can go here and we’ll see each other anon: 

Awesome! But time now to go out for Indian. It would be great to sit down with everyone, crack a poppadom or two together, share reflections on round-the-world-in-twelve-days. As it is, I cannot even go to our favourite Café Saffron in Upper Heidelberg Road because it’s outside the five-kilometre radius for Melburnians in Stage Four Lockdown. It may be time instead just to prepare an old favourite at home from Madhur Jaffrey. 

Whatever, until such time as we meet again over dinner, or zoom even, I hope you enjoyed the tour. Stay safe, stay at home, enjoy a steaming cup of milky chai, and talk to anyone who needs your words.    

Philip Harvey

Tour Guide

Wednesday, 16 September 2020

The Bus Trip 11: Tianyi Ge, Ningbo, China



Today we visit Ningbo, one of China’s oldest cities (circa 4800 BC), home to China’s oldest library (founded in 1561). The One Sky Pavilion, or Tianyi Ge Library, was constructed according to Taoist principles based on the Book of Changes, which is why in Chinese the name is also sometimes translated as The Universal Union Pavilion.


The Great Libraries of China - Part 1| LiYuan Library:


When we read the English Sinologist Arthur Waley, his account of ancient dynastic and province wars is that one of the first things they did was burn down the library of their enemy. This is why they are hard to find on Google. Tianyi Ge’s wiki, well worth reading, includes the following ‘fun fact’, “The walls were specially constructed to prevent fire.”

The Great Libraries of China - Part 2 | Mulan Weichang Library: 

China is complex, with a book culture from very early. The Chinese invented paper. Dynastic, bureaucratic, scholarly, and private libraries are recorded throughout its history and literature. 

The Great Libraries of China - Part 3 | Seashore Library: 

Tianyi Ge held 70,000 books at its height. It was established by the Emperor. The collection became depleted over the centuries due to theft and neglect. The British helped themselves to many of the manuscripts. Restoration really coincided with the opening up of China in the nineties and the government’s policies of celebrating the country’s ancient heritage. 

The Great Libraries of China - Part 4 | Zhongshuge Bookshop: 

Throughout our visit to the oldest library in China, we have been visiting beautiful libraries of modern China. Each film is about five quality minutes long. It’s time to thank Leslie Montgomery who pieced together this wonderful alternative tour online. 

The Great Libraries of China - Part 5 | Tianjin Binhai Library:    

Philip Harvey

Tour Guide

Tuesday, 15 September 2020

The Bus Trip 10: Nakajima Library

Good morning and for those who are still with us post-conference, we are in Japan. Here we are at the only library in Japan that is open 24/7 all year round. Actually, how many of those there are anywhere is a question. The Nakajima Library of Akita International University mainly serves students and staff of the university, but also welcomes us, the general public. It has a collection of more than 80,000 books and multimedia resources. It is also great architecture and worth checking on Google Image. Or here: 

We visit a contemporary 24/7 Japanese library to ponder a world without libraries, which was more or less the case in Japan before its fabled insularity ended after 1853.  It is a fact worthy of reflection that the country’s oldest library is the Imperial Library, opened in 1872. In other words, technically speaking this means there are no ancient libraries in Japan. Libraries, in Japanese ‘toshokan’, are a product of Westernisation. Your guide’s own reading of this is that before the mid-19th century ‘toshokan’ were largely private collections of scrolls and other written materials, literally in-house repositories, a view borne out by reading classical Japanese literature. Doubtless, households and individuals would have had their own collections, storerooms for reading, but the concept of organising and saving works for general use does not appear to have had any kind of widespread cultural hold. Perhaps those with a better knowledge of this aspect of Japanese history could enlighten us further. The best picture of where we are today can be seen here: 

Your guide is also fascinated by the recent discovery that Zen monasteries don't have libraries. They have repositories for sutras, i.e. liturgical rites as we would say, but if you want to read a book you have to go outside the monastery. Is a repository a library? Or is that why we have different words? I recently wrote a reflection on this discovery, after reading an interview with the American poet Gary Snyder: 

Also, this thorough summary of life in a Japanese monastery is significant, again, for what it doesn’t talk about, i.e. any presence of a ‘toshokan’: 

Visitors who would rather see a library on a library tour, than no libraries, are welcome to go here (you have 22 minutes, starting Now!): 


Philip Harvey

Tour Guide

Monday, 14 September 2020

The Bus Trip 9: The Beinecke Library

Day Nine of the Bus Trip, taking in the Beinecke Library and the Benedictine Library of Mount Angel in Oregon 

The Beinecke Library is one of the wonders of library design, an architectural and conceptual masterpiece:

 Just to read the description on Wikipedia is an experience in itself: “A six-story above-ground glass-enclosed tower of book stacks is encased by a windowless façade, supported by four monolithic piers at the corners of the building. The exterior shell is structurally supported by a steel frame with pylons embedded 50 feet to bedrock at each corner pier. The façade is constructed of translucent veined marble and granite. The marble is milled to a thickness of 1.25 inches and was quarried from Danby, Vermont. On a sunny day the marble transmits filtered daylight to the interior in a subtle golden amber glow, a product of its thin profile. These panels are framed by a hexagonal grid of Vermont Woodbury granite veneer, fastened to a structural steel frame. The outside dimensions have “Platonic” mathematical proportions of 1:2:3 (height: width: length). The building has been called a "jewel box", and also a "laboratory for the humanities". There are so many quality videos on the Beinecke’s own website, so the tour is going to let you explore for a while.


This is one of them. Just as pages of the Book of Kells are turned regularly in Dublin, so in New Haven, Connecticut the pages of a relatively modern version of Scripture, the Gutenberg Bible circa 1455 are turned to keep the book in good condition and to keep readers aware:


We are now going to get back on the magic bus to visit another wonder of sixties library design, this time on the West Coast. In true sixties style you won't notice how the time goes, even quicker than an evaporating journal. And hmmmmmmm here we are, tripping through the Benedictine Library at Mount Angel Abbey in Oregon, designed by the Finnish architect Alvar Aalto:


The old library burned down in 1926. Forty years later the abbot approached Aalto and here is a film that says it better than me:

You will be relieved to learn that Mount Angel this week has been downgraded to Level 1 (‘Get Ready’) during the current Oregon wildfires. Mount Angel is in Marion County, which has seen some serious action in recent days.


Philip Harvey

Tour Guide

The Bus Trip 8: Biblioteca Palafoxiana, Puebla, Mexico

“Upon entering the massive carved wooden doors of the Palafoxiana Library, one is struck by the rich Old World scent of fine furniture and leather-bound books,” says our guide Angela Schuster. “The morning sun beams through the windows of a high vaulted ceiling, playing off the voluptuous baroque ornament of the three-tiered bookcase that envelops the room. Narrow staircases and walkways provide access to the stacks, their shelves lined with early editions of Vitruvius, Homer, and Seneca, commentaries on Canon Law, and treatises devoted to all manner of scientific inquiry—most bound in goatskin, their titles rendered in sepia script.” 

Juan de Palafox y Mendoza, Bishop of Puebla (1600-1665) established what most people regard as the first public library in the Americas, the Biblioteca Palafoxiana, on the 6th of September 1646: 

But Angela continues, “Savouring the library’s seemingly timeless ambience, it is hard to imagine that […] this great repository of learning in the heart of historic Puebla de los Angeles, Mexico, lay in ruin, rocked by an earthquake at 3:42 on the afternoon of June 15, 1999. The quake, which measured 6.7 on the Richter scale and damaged many of the city’s famed historic buildings, sent a wave along the library’s south wall, cracking its masonry and causing its bookcases to ripple and fold. Stacks on the north wall, anchored by the more substantial architecture of the Colegio de San Juan y San Pedro, buckled and sheered under the differential strain, sending myriad rare volumes tumbling to the ground. In less than a minute, centuries of scholarship collapsed in a massive heap of dust. Still further destruction would come three months later, when a second quake struck on September 30.”

The full text of Angela’s tour and the story of the Library’s restoration can be read here: 

Two entries on the Carmelite Library blog, one about Bishop Palafox, the other about the Library’s celebrated bookwheel, are here: 

Philip Harvey

Tour Guide

Saturday, 12 September 2020

The Bus Trip 7: Trinity College Dublin

James Joyce lived in at least two cities with diametrically opposed attitudes to timekeeping: Dublin, where no two clocks show the same time, and Zurich, where the second hand is sacrosanct. So here we are in Dublin, more or less at 8.30 in the morning, depending on which clock. 

There are really two main libraries at Trinity College Dublin, the new library and then the one that everyone who visits Dublin goes to, the Old Library. The College and its Library were established during the reign of the first Queen Elizabeth in 1592. It was a time of early imperial ambition for the English, a history that involves, by definition, Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific. Innumerable are the clergy and scholars trained at TCD and other Irish theology schools who found their way to the Antipodes: 

Housed within the Library is an object intrinsic to Irish historical identity, the 8th-century illuminated Gospel Book known as The Book of Kells. Your tour guide could go on at length about this wondrous work, which is why it might be better for you to read something without effusive superlatives in every sentence. The Ancient History Encyclopedia: 

TCD’s conservator, John Gillis, talks about the medieval binding of Kells: 

You can be like James Joyce and study the Book of Kells every other week, whether by googling ‘book of kells’ or joining the Facebook group: 

800 illuminated medieval manuscripts are now online: 

And here is a crumpled piece of paper from my top pocket. It’s a poem about this part of Dublin and the Book of Kells entitled ‘K’ that was published a while ago in The Melbourne Age. The poem is a lipogram, i.e. this one uses all the letters except K, which is the subject of the poem. Gaelic Irish does not have a K, which was introduced into Ireland with Latin:

 Philip Harvey

Tour Guide

Friday, 11 September 2020

The Bus Trip 6: Lambeth Palace Library

Good morning and here we are in the heart of London, virtually: 

Actually, we are more fortunate than physical visitors, as the Library is closed at the moment while the collection is shifted into a new building designed for the purpose at Lambeth. The Library does not re-open until 2021. 

The new building has been a cause of some controversy, as the architects seem to have put function before form, modernity before tradition, and knowledge before Victorianism. As guests it is best not to get caught up in this imbroglio, but you may wish to read opinions about one of the unsuccessful applicants for the design:

While for balance, this is a magazine notice about the winning entry: 

Here is a short colourful film about an exhibition at the Library: 

While down the corridor there is a lecture on the Library that is just about to start. It is to be given by the Lambeth librarian Giles Mandelbrote. You are advised though that, a lecture being a lecture, it goes for an hour: 

Then you have the rest of the day free, but if you find yourself stuck in London traffic we have supplied this special brochure for your interest, ‘The World’s Most Beautiful Libraries’: 

Philip Harvey

Tour Guide





Thursday, 10 September 2020

The Bus Trip 5: The al-Qarawiyyan Library in Fez, Morocco

The oldest library in Africa and arguably the oldest operating library in the world was established by a woman by the name of Fatima El-Fihriya. She was a scholar and devout Muslim who used her rich family inheritance to build the library, mosque, madrasa and other parts of the old medina of Fez in Morocco. Opened in 859, the Library holds manuscripts in theology, law, languages, and astronomy dating back to the 6th century. ‘Operating’ is the operative word, but who’s arguing?

In 2012 the Moroccan government commissioned Moroccan-born Canadian architect Aziza Chaouni to renovate the library to its original splendour. Her account of what she found and what she did next can be read about here:

Aziza Chaouni Projects of Toronto and Fez devotes this neat page to the work:

Restored over four years, the Library was re-opened in May 2016. One of the best general reports of this event and the Library’s history is in a newspaper. Readers who advance to Comments need to remember what I mean by ‘operating’ being the operative word, a word that seems to be missing from the vocabulary of too many of the commentators:

While for those who expect more action during a library tour, El Jazeera posted this: 

This link meanwhile is precious. It takes you to the fascinating and detailed entry on the Muslim Heritage site for the history of Islamic libraries: 

Not surprisingly, al-Qarawiyyan Library makes regular appearances in lists of Most Amazing Libraries and Oldest Libraries in the World. Two of these are in the bus’s onboard movie selection.

Most Amazing Libraries in the World. Mentioned here:

Oldest Libraries in the World. Mentioned here: 

Philip Harvey

Tour Guide

The Bus Trip 4: Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana

Today we are going to visit the Vatican Library, the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana. This is not to be confused with the Secret Archive, which is found in another part of the city. Those who want the quick trip can follow this guide: 

Although there have been papal libraries ever since the emergence of papal power in the fourth and fifth centuries, The Vatican Library as we know it today is a product of the Italian Renaissance. This is due in some ways to a bull, ‘Ad decorum miltantis Ecclesiae’ (‘For the adornment of the militant Church’) of Pope Sixtus IV in 1475, which stipulated that the papal library be maintained as a permanent institution of the Papal States. It is always reassuring to know the requirement of your library has been written into law.      

The Grand Tour of the Vatican takes 27 minutes, so give yourself some space before siesta:

 The Vatican and the Bodleian project: 

In 2011, I attended an actual conference in Rome, where we visited several libraries. Four of those library visits are described on my library blog, the library of the Carmelite Postulator for Causes of Saints, the Library of the Institutum Carmelitanum, the Library of the Anglican Centre at Palazzo Doria Pamphilj, and most rewardingly the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana: 

When in Rome, do as the tourists do. After our library visit you will wish to catch some of the other sights by joining Madeline, Genevieve, Miss Clavel (we always pronounce the name Cla-Vel) and their entourage: 

Philip Harvey

Tour Guide

Tuesday, 8 September 2020

The Bus Trip Day 3: The Library of Celsus at Ephesus

Today we visit the Library of Celsus in Ephesus, constructed in the second century during the boom period under Emperor Hadrian (76-138 CE). It is unusual to be buried in a library, but this is the case with the Roman Senator Tiberius Julius Celsus Polemaeanus, known for short as Celsus. He was the Governor of the Asia Province and the library is a monument honouring his memory and achievements. The sarcophagus was buried under the flooring near the apsidal wall, where it was rediscovered during excavations in 1904. Here is a virtual wander around the site involving an unmuted mike and utter indifference to social distancing: 

Or if you like lovely music and maximum distance, you may prefer stepping into the Simulator: 

The Library of Celsus is typical of the architectural style prevalent in Hadrian’s time, with highly decorative facades which had multiple tiers and masses of projections, recessed false windows, columns, pediments, and statues. Ephesus had become, as we know, one of the most important centres of early Christianity. The library and Christianity were closely connected, since the new religion laid great emphasis on the written word in the form of sacred texts and commentaries, which was in marked contrast to the Roman rites and rituals, typically passed on orally by priests to initiates. At least, that’s what it says in the Ancient History Encyclopedia:   

Let’s have a look at this informative local Turkish account of the Library. ‘Sings of the Humans’ is possibly meant to be ‘Songs of the Humans’ and there are other translationese bloopers in the subtitles that add depth of meaning to the narrative. This tour reminds us too that there is no love lost between Istanbul and Vienna:   

Philip Harvey

Tour Guide

Monday, 7 September 2020

The Bus Trip Day 2: The Library of St Catherine’s Monastery, Sinai

The bus only goes as far as the monastery. Anyone wishing to go up the mountain will need to hire a camel. So, here we are at St. Catherine’s. Those with laptops and glasses that don’t fog up from wearing a mask can zip to this report of the grand re-opening of the Monastery’s Library, which happened as recently as December 2017:

 People love to haggle over what is ‘oldest’, ‘biggest’; some people even haggle over what is ‘quietest’, ‘wisest’. Anyway, the Monastery’s website tells us that “When Egeria visited the Sinai in 383-384, she wrote approvingly of the way the monks read to her the scriptural accounts concerning the various events that had taken place there. Thus we can speak of manuscripts at Sinai in the fourth century. It is written of Saint John Climacus that, while living as a hermit, he spent much time in prayer and in the copying of books. This is evidence of manuscript production at Sinai in the sixth century. The library at the Holy Monastery of Sinai is thus the inheritor of texts and of traditions that date to the earliest years of a monastic presence in the Sinai. In earlier times, manuscripts were kept in three different places: in the north wall of the monastery, in the vicinity of the church, and in a central location where the texts were accessible.” 

It is time to take time, at work or at home, or both at the same time, to enjoy this 26 minute exploration of one of the world’s most revered theological libraries: 

You may also like to see some more about the digitization program, started in 2019: 

It was good to see Lynn Pryor’s pictures of Alexandria yesterday. Thanks Lynn! Anyone on the bus tour who has had actual, rather than just virtual, experience of any of the libraries on the tour is welcome to post their photographs, memories, and other responses as part this endeavour. All information is most welcome! 

Philip Harvey

Tour Guide

Sunday, 6 September 2020

The Bus Trip Day 1: The Library of Alexandria

Welcome to the Virtual Bus Trip of the Virtual Conference. Each day I will post a you-tube visit to a famous, or not so famous, library. All of them will have theological library connections, big or small. It will be a world trip, with visits to amazing theological libraries on all continents. We will visit twelve libraries during our circumnavigation of the world. Other information can be added to the itinerary, e.g. how to make your own library you-tube video and links to accounts of visits by real ANZTLA people. Onboard entertainment will include films of the most beautiful libraries in the world. Departure time each day is 8.30 am AEST sharp on the ANZTLA-Forum 

There are two Alexandria libraries. Our bus cannot reach the first one because what remains of it is probably under water. Ted is here to give a literally graphic account of that ancient library: 

As the guide in our next film says, whether ancient or modern, Alexandria stands at the crossroads of three continents. National Geographic takes us to the modern Bibliotheca Alexandrina: 

Though, as is usually the case, the library’s own website tells us a lot more of what we want to know than anything that can be packed into a video: 

If you wish and you have the time you may even like to read my own bus handout of one of Alexandria’s most famous librarians, Eratosthenes: 

It’s great that you can be along for the Virtual Bus Tour. Tomorrow we visit a very different library in Egypt. See you then!

 Philip Harvey

Tour Guide