Saturday, 2 February 2008

Books, books, books...

My copies of Eileen Reeves "Galileo's Glassworks" and Matt Rubinstein's "Vellum" have both arrived in the post: and so the inevitable book triage process sets in, whereby I work out which of the books I'm currently reading to put to one side to make time/space for the new arrivals.

Unfortunately, I'm so utterly captivated by Lynn Thorndike's "History of Magic & Experimental Science" Vol III (covering the 14th century), I'll probably have to finish that one first. Only a few hundred pages to go, then...

A Latin aside: I've been programming with a code library from 3Dlabs with a function that normally appears as "des.init()". However, desinit is a proper Latin word meaning "it ceases", and refers (as anyone who has read Thorndike will know) to the words at the end of manuscripts, just as incipit refers to the words at their start. What I didn't know until this week was that there is also a nice saying from Horace desinit in piscem (or in full "desinit in piscem mulier formosa superne"), which refers to a statue that starts beautiful at the top but ends up as a ugly fish at the bottom (it even gets quoted in Asterix and the Secret Weapon) - a handy metaphor for things which seem to start out well but end up badly. Nothing at all to do with 3Dlabs, then.

On the subject of books, I recently found a reference on WorldCat to a a real (ie non-fiction) Voynich book I'd never heard of, written by VMs mailing list member Jim Comegys in 2001, and with the catchy title "Keys for the voynich scholar : necessary clues for the decipherment and reading of the world's most mysterious manuscript which is a medical text in Nahuatl attributable to Francisco Hernández and his Aztec Ticiti collaborators." I'll see if I can get a copy from Jim (though I suspect he may not have properly published it per se).

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