The written tradition lasted nearly 3,500 years and writing is found on almost every tomb and temple wall. Yet there had been a temptation to see it as just decoration. Museums often display papyri as artefacts rather than texts. Hieroglyphs were pictures but they convey concepts in as sophisticated a manner as Greek or Latin script.
Penguin Classics, which has recently published the book, Writings from Ancient Egypt, described it as a ground-breaking publication because “these writings have never before been published together in an accessible collection”.
Beware the False Stone
In addition to the typo the book, to be of significant value, must have been printed in the UK and the cover must be that of the Bloomsbury publisher rather than that of Ted Smart with a publication date of 1997.
Beyond these signifiers, the first printing is identifiable from a distinctive line of descending numbers (10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1) on the reverse of the title-page. However, this number line may also appear on the gold-embossed “Celebratory” first editions which sell for only around £20 – the other conditions must also apply.
The newly revealed codex, or book, has been hidden from view for almost 500 years, concealed beneath a layer of plaster and chalk on the back of a later manuscript known as the Codex Selden, which is housed at the Bodleian Libraries. Scientists have used hyperspectral imaging to reveal pictographic scenes from this remarkable document and have published their findings in the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports.
Since the 1950s, scholars have suspected that Codex Selden is a palimpsest: an older document that has been covered up and reused to make the manuscript that is currently visible. Codex Selden consists of a five-metre-long strip composed of deer hide that has been covered with gesso, a white plaster made from gypsum and chalk, and folded in a concertina format into a 20-page document. The manuscript underwent a series of invasive tests in the 1950s when one page on the back was scraped, uncovering a vague image that hinted at the possibility that an earlier Mexican codex lay hidden beneath.
Until now, no other technique has been able to unveil the concealed narrative in a non-invasive way. The organic paints that were partly used to create the vibrant images on early Mexican codices do not absorb x-rays, which rules out x-ray analysis that is commonly used to study later works of art.
Our Shakespeare features around 100 items relating to Shakespeare and his work, including books, films, posters and photographs and never before seen local treasures. Highlights include:
The Library of Birmingham’s copy of the First Folio (1623) – one of the world’s most famous books and the foundation for every subsequent edition of Shakespeare’s works
Laurence Olivier’s 1955 screenplay of ‘Macbeth’ – the annotated draft of Olivier’s proposed (but never filmed) version of The Scottish Play
A 1963 Russian edition of Romeo and Juliet (Romeo I Dzul’etta) donated to the Library of Birmingham by a visiting Soviet delegation at the height of the Cold War
Photographs from Birmingham Repertory Theatre’s pioneering modern dress productions of Shakespeare from the 1920s.
William Brown Street, Liverpool L3 8E, UK
Most of all, this exhibition illuminates the role that Oscar Wilde played as his idol, mentor, and friend — a relationship that began when 17-year-old Dick Gallienne, clerk in a Liverpool office, heard Wilde lecture in 1883 at the Claughton Music Hall in Birkenhead. Inspired by Wilde’s personal style and ideas about art, he renamed himself “Richard Le Gallienne,” wore long hair and artistic clothes, and dedicated himself to becoming an equally flamboyant figure and unconventional writer, devoted to Beauty in all its forms.
“Late-Victorian Literary Liverpool: A Symposium” Saturday, 29 October 2016
Liverpool Central Library will bring together scholars and collectors from the UK and the US for a one-day symposium about Liverpool as a literary and cultural centre at the end of the 19th century. This event is free and open to the public.
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