October 4, 2009 |
A blue-hooded jester sticks his fingers in his mouth and pulls his lips wide to reveal a broad, toothy sneer. "You, my dear reader, are a fool," he seems to say. "And I know a fool when I see one." This irreverent illustration is stuck in the lower margin of a page dedicated to Psalm 52 in a medieval psalter wherein a fool pronounces, "There is no God." The first letter of the passage -- a "D" inhabited by an illustration of Christ being dogged by a fool in a mask -- updates the Old Testament psalm to a New Testament meaning, but this special illumination seems reserved as a cautionary note to the reader.
July 27, 2009 |
Already, a nimbus of legend surrounds the story: In late 2004, Swedish journalist Stieg Larsson delivered to his publisher three finished manuscripts -- the opening salvos in a rumored 10-part suspense narrative.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
July 20, 2009 |
The story of David, the shepherd boy who slew the Philistine Goliath, became the divinely chosen king of the Israelites and seduced Bathsheba, would be compelling in any era. But for medieval Christians, the poet, harpist and warrior assumed immense importance as an exemplar of piety and penitence, an Everyman on whom they could model their own commitment to God.
November 16, 2008 |
It takes piles of money and power to commission projects destined to become pinnacles of art history. Sometimes it also takes a bit of royal boredom. Just listen to Timothy B. Husband, curator of the Cloisters Collection of medieval art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He's providing some background on "The Belles Heures of the Duke of Berry," an exhibition opening Tuesday at the J. Paul Getty Museum. "Jean de France, duc de Berry, was son, brother and uncle of successive kings of France.
November 1, 2008 |
Science historian Dan Lewis opened the green cloth cover of "The Origin of Species," Charles Darwin's classic work on evolutionary biology, and flipped to Page 20. And there, in the 11th line of text, was the telltale typo: "Speceies." That misprint marked the book as one of the 1,250 copies originally published in London in 1859.
September 28, 2008 |
A quest is underway on four continents to find the missing pages of one of the world's most important holy texts, the 1,000-year-old Hebrew Bible known as the Crown of Aleppo. Crusaders held it for ransom, fire almost destroyed it, and it was reputedly smuggled across Mideast borders hidden in a washing machine. But in 1958, when it finally reached Israel, 196 pages were missing -- about 40% of the total -- and for some Old Testament scholars they have become a kind of holy grail. Researchers representing the manuscript's custodian in Jerusalem now say they have leads on some of the missing pages.
August 27, 2008 |
Five years ago, the English language publication of an astonishing novel, "Sepharad," announced to American readers that Spanish letters had given rise to a previously overlooked European master, Antonio Munoz Molina. Munoz Molina, now 52, had hardly escaped notice in his native land, where his novels and journalism already had made him one of the most honored writers of his generation and the youngest to be elected to the Royal Spanish Academy. In the English-speaking world, "Sepharad" was widely -- and favorably -- compared to the German-born W.G. Sebald's meta-fictions with their intricate blend of fact and imagination, of obscure individual lives and sweeping historic events, all building to a meditation on the moral horror that was the 20th century.
August 13, 2008 |
Vladimir Nabokov's son says he will publish the Russian author's last manuscript despite the writer's dying request that it be burned. Dimitri Nabokov says in an interview with the German edition of Vanity Fair that his father must have wanted the work published or he would have destroyed it himself. The work titled "The Original Laura" was left behind on 138 notecards when the author died in 1977. He asked his wife, Vera, to burn the work. She never did. His 74-year-old son says the work is scheduled for release in September.