The Earliest Publishers: How Medieval Manuscripts Were Made

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A film from the Getty Museum introduces viewers to the beautiful handwritten books known as illuminated manuscripts

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As we ponder the future of publishing, it's worth revisting its past—not from a Better-Nevers perspective of romanticizing a bygone era in order to bemoan technological innovation, but out of a more philosophical reflection on the incredible craftsmanship that went into early "publishing" and how we can reintroduce this respect for and value of the art of publishing as we straddle these new digital platforms.

In this fascinating short documentary, part of The Getty Museum's excellent Making Art series on ArtBabble, we get to see the astounding patience and craftsmanship that went into the making of medieval illuminated manuscripts—remarkable books painstakingly written and decorated by hand, coveted as some of the most precious objects produced in the Middle Ages.

For more on these marvels of the written word, you won't go wrong with Christopher De Hamel's A History of Illuminated Manuscripts—though, regrettably, not an illuminated manuscript itself. And, in the meantime, perhaps we should consider what the new vehicles of patience and craftsmanship are for creating value in today's greatest feats of publishing—journalistic integrity, curatorial sensibility, information discovery.



This post also appears on Brain Pickings.
Via MetaFilter; Image: Library of Congress

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Maria Popova is the editor of Brain Pickings. She writes for Wired UK and GOOD, and is an MIT Futures of Entertainment Fellow.

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