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Bibliomania in the Middle Ages   By: (1827-1900)

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In "Bibliomania in the Middle Ages," F. Somner Merryweather explores the fervent obsession for books that gripped medieval society. His insightful examination of this cultural phenomenon sheds light on the significant impact of bibliomania on various aspects of medieval life.

Merryweather's extensive research is commendable, as he delves into the origins and evolution of bibliomania during the Middle Ages. The author takes readers on a captivating journey, tracing the rise of book collecting alongside the development of monastic libraries and the emergence of universities. By exploring these historical contexts, Merryweather effectively portrays the interconnectedness between bibliomania and the cultural shifts of the time.

One of the book's strengths lies in the author's ability to present complex ideas and information in a clear and accessible manner. Merryweather provides a comprehensive analysis of the various forms bibliomania took, addressing topics such as book production, manuscript illuminations, and the rise of private libraries. This multifaceted approach enhances readers' understanding of the all-encompassing nature of bibliomania, which extended beyond mere book ownership to encompass the entire realm of manuscript culture.

Furthermore, Merryweather astutely highlights the paradoxical nature of bibliomania in medieval society. On one hand, the passionate pursuit of books was seen as a noble endeavor, reflecting intellectual curiosity and a thirst for knowledge. Yet, on the other hand, excessive bibliomania was often regarded as a sin or a symptom of madness, as it diverted one's attention from religious devotion or practical matters. Through skillful analysis of medieval literature and church writings, Merryweather thoroughly explores these conflicting attitudes towards the book-collecting obsession.

While the book offers valuable insights into the subject matter, it does suffer from certain shortcomings. Some readers may find the detailed historical accounts overwhelming, as the narrative occasionally becomes dense with facts and dates. Merryweather's prose, although scholarly, lacks a fluidity that might engage a wider audience. These factors might limit the book's accessibility to general readers, catering more towards scholars and enthusiasts with a specific interest in medieval history and book culture.

In conclusion, "Bibliomania in the Middle Ages" is a thorough and illuminating exploration of the captivating world of book obsession during medieval times. Merryweather's meticulous research and insightful analysis make this book a valuable resource for academics and enthusiasts alike. While its scholarly tone and density may alienate some readers, those with a keen interest in the subject will appreciate the in-depth exploration of this fascinating phenomenon.

First Page:






With an Introduction by CHARLES ORR Librarian of Case Library


Copyright, 1900 By Meyer Bros. & Co.

Louis Weiss & Co. Printers.... 118 Fulton Street ... New York

Bibliomania in the Middle Ages



From the Anglo Saxon and Norman Periods to the Introduction of Printing into England, with Anecdotes Illustrating the History of the Monastic Libraries of Great Britain in the Olden Time by F. Somner Merryweather, with an Introduction by Charles Orr, Librarian of Case Library.


In every century for more than two thousand years, many men have owed their chief enjoyment of life to books. The bibliomaniac of today had his prototype in ancient Rome, where book collecting was fashionable as early as the first century of the Christian era. Four centuries earlier there was an active trade in books at Athens, then the center of the book production of the world. This center of literary activity shifted to Alexandria during the third century B. C. through the patronage of Ptolemy Soter, the founder of the Alexandrian Museum, and of his son, Ptolemy Philadelphus; and later to Rome, where it remained for many centuries, and where bibliophiles and bibliomaniacs were gradually evolved, and from whence in time other countries were invaded... Continue reading book >>

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