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Material Moments in Book Cultures

Essays in Honour of Gabriele Müller-Oberhäuser

Edited By Simon Rosenberg and Sandra Simon

This Festschrift honours the dedicated book historian and medievalist Gabriele Müller-Oberhäuser. Her wide-ranging scholarly expertise has encouraged and influenced many adepts of the book. The essays in this volume reflect the variety of her interests: The contributions range from Chaucer’s Fürstenspiegel to the value of books in comedy, from the material book to the magical book in religious and literary cultures, from collaborative efforts in manuscript production to the relations of distributors of books across national and ideological boundaries, from the relations between the makers of books to the relation of readers to their books. Covering a period from the Middle Ages to the present, the volume concludes with a look at the future of book history as a field of study.
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Swift as Bookman: Reader, Collector, and Donor


Hermann Josef Real, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität, Münster


Jonathan Swift is known as a voracious reader and collector of books; he is less well known as a donor of books. Books were tools conducive to securing patronage; vehicles on the road to (self)education, and, also, as marks of affection, respect, and remembrance they were meant to give joy.

Büchern bin ich zugeschworen,Bücher bilden meine Welt.Bin an Bücher ganz verloren,Bin von Büchern rings umstellt.

Zärter noch als MännerwangenStreichl ich ein geliebtes Buch,Atme bebend vor VerlangenEchten Pergamentgeruch.

Inkunabeln, Erstausgaben,Sonder-, Luxus-, Einzeldruck:Alles, alles möcht ich haben …

Karl Wolfskehl, Lobgesang (1932, adapted)

The Dean of St Patrick’s, Dublin, is known to posterity as a reader and collector of books; he is less well known as a donor of books. In principle, such activities seem clear-cut and straightforward; in practice, they frequently overlap, intermingle, and at times even merge. Throughout his career, Swift’s reading of books was avid, regular, and consistent. Early biographers like Patrick Delany report that during his great reading period at Moor Park, Sir William Temple’s country estate, the young Jonathan persistently studied “at least eight hours a day, one with another, for seven years,”1 dutifully ‘abstracting’ many of the titles he pored over – Paolo Sarpi’s History of the Council of Trent of 1676 and Thomas Hobbes’s translation of Thucydides’ History of...

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