Monday, September 19, 2016

Historians Discover Secret Libraries in The Bindings of Early Printed Books

One reason the written word has always been associated with magic is that letters were always the domain of the truly scholarly. They represented a mastery of arcane lore, and they could grant a kind of immortality to a person's thoughts and deeds. Not only that, but books were labor-intensive to create. It took a skilled person to learn the letters, and then to write (or copy) a manuscript. The books had to be hand-bound as well, and the sheer amount of effort it took to make a book meant they tended to be fairly rare, and quite precious.

You could fairly judge a lord by the size of his library.
All of that changed thanks to the printing press. With the widespread use of that particular device, books were available to more people than ever before. Not only that, but because they were so much easier to produce, literacy increased. Books were still precious, but they were nowhere near the treasured status they'd once held.

And all those handmade books from ages past? Well, they were clearly no longer important, so they were cut up, and used to help strengthen the bindings in a new generation of books.

Wait, What?

According to Tor, it seems some historians have been X-raying books printed between the 15th and 18th centuries. What they've found are strips of older, medieval manuscripts that have been torn apart, and used to help strengthen the binding. Out with the old, in with the new, and all that.

On the one hand, it hurts a book lover's heart to see that kind of destruction of historically important texts. On the other hand, the bizarre mystery of these hidden libraries is intriguing. These strips of ancient books may be little more than shards of their original manuscripts, but those shards have been exceedingly well-preserved.

Kind of makes you wonder how they chose which books got shredded.
Which makes you wonder... was that dark grimoire ever truly destroyed? Or were the pieces simply hidden away, and preserved in other, more innocuous books? If you needed a prompt for your fetch quest, you now have it courtesy of one of history's funny little quirks.

As always, thanks for stopping by to check out my Moon Pope Monday update this week. Hopefully everyone found it as interesting as I did. If you'd like to help support Improved Initiative, then why not stop by The Literary Mercenary's Patreon page to toss a little bread in my jar? As little as $1 a month gets you free swag! Lastly, if you haven't done so yet, why not follow me on Facebook, Tumblr, and/or Twitter?

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