Monday, January 29, 2007

A Library of Babel and a babbling librarian?

Image of St. John
Cod. Sang. 51, Page 208
Stiftsbibliothek St. Gallen / Codices Electronici Sangallenses
Irish Gospel-Book of St. Gallen (Quatuor evangelia)
The Irish Gospel Book of St. Gallen
Gospels According to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John
Illustrated with 12 Decorated Pages
Written and Illuminated by Irish Monks around 750 in Ireland

The internet is rapidly expanding to become one enormous, complex library, perhaps not the infinite, orderly library described by Borges in The Library of Babel but an unbounded, searchable one.

Just this morning, I discovered that the Abbey of St. Gall has been putting its library online in the form of facsimiles, which means that Medieval scholars need not travel all the way to St. Gallen, Switzerland to study the abbey's Medieval manuscripts, those exemplars of Medieval literary culture.

Of course, for those who prefer modern, oral culture, go here, select "English (UK)" and "Audrey," plug in these words (or some string of your own), and listen:

This Tree is not as we are told, a Tree Of danger tasted, nor to evil unknown Op'ning the way, but of Divine effect To open Eyes, and make them Gods who taste;

The words are from John Milton's Paradise Lost 9.862-866, but you can select any text that you like, so long as it's brief.

Hat Tip to Ambivablog.


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