The Bookseller of Florence
Dr Ross King
‘A marvel of storytelling and a masterclass in the history of the book’ WALL STREET JOURNAL
The Renaissance in Florence conjures images of beautiful frescoes and elegant buildings – the dazzling handiwork of the city’s artists and architects. But equally important were geniuses of another kind: Florence’s manuscript hunters, scribes, scholars and booksellers. At a time where all books were made by hand, these people helped imagine a new and enlightened world.
At the heart of this activity was a remarkable bookseller: Vespasiano da Bisticci. His books were works of art in their own right, copied by talented scribes and illuminated by the finest miniaturists. With a client list that included popes and royalty, Vespasiano became the ‘king of the world’s booksellers’. But by 1480 a new invention had appeared: the printed book, and Europe’s most prolific merchant of knowledge faced a formidable new challenge.
‘A spectacular life of the book trade’s Renaissance man’ JOHN CAREY, SUNDAY TIMES
If you want to celebrate the place that bookmaking and bookselling still have in our lives . . . immerse yourself in Ross King's rich history of Vespasiano da Bisticci, "the king of the world's booksellers," in 15th-century Florence . . . wonderful -- Simon Schama * New York Times * Excellent . . . a fascinating read . . . Though ostensibly a biography of Vespasiano, he is less the book's subject than its method: a window on to the intellectual, political and technological developments of a time in radical ferment . . . entertaining, witty and expert -- Tim Smith-Laing * Daily Telegraph * A brilliant narrative that seamlessly weaves together intellectual debate, technological exploration and the excitement of new ways of thinking about ethics, politics and human capability -- Rowan Williams A terrific and utterly absorbing read, full of narrative pace and remarkable breadth and depth of scholarship. It deserves to make the bestseller lists . . . I haven't enjoyed a history book as much for years -- John Guy The Bookseller of Florence is a way of entering the world of Renaissance humanism and its fascination with the writings of the past at a time when these were still - but not for much longer - handwritten -- Charles Saumarez Smith * Oldie *
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