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  • Burning Library: Galen in Chinese Shorthand August 10, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    Burning Library: Galen in Chinese Shorthand

    The Arab writer Ibn al-Nadim included this extraordinary record of contact between east and west in his Index of the Sciences, finished in 988. He is reporting an encounter between a Chinese student, visiting Baghdad, al-Razi, perhaps the greatest of the Persian writers of the golden age, and the writings of Galen, the greatest Mediterranean […]

    Burning Libraries: Seleucus of Seleucia July 7, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Burning Libraries: Seleucus of Seleucia

    Seleucus of Seleucia is one of the most intriguing writers of all antiquity: not least because practically everything about him is up for debate, a natural consequence of the loss of his writings. When did he live? Probably the mid second century B.C., but there is some uncertainty. Where was he from? Seleucia certainly, but is that […]

    Burning Libraries: Lost Yorkshire Folk Collection May 10, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Burning Libraries: Lost Yorkshire Folk Collection

    Beach has frequently pointed to burning libraries, lost books or in this case lost sheaves of papers. First, let’s introduce the author ‘Ariel’ writing in the Blackburn Standard in 1892. ‘Ariel’ wrote a column for this publication from the late 1880s and then right through the 1890s apparently ending in 1900: normally termed ‘Passing Notes […]

    Review: Lost Book of Moses May 9, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Modern
    Review: Lost Book of Moses

    Chanan Tigay, The Lost Book of Moses (Harper-Collins, 2016) This blogger has a dilemma. There are three pages of a century-old book he wants about an obscure English county. The book is not present in any library in the world, but one copy exists in the hands of a bookseller who wants about two hundred […]

    Burning Library: Intepretation of the Pythagorean Sayings April 23, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Burning Library: Intepretation of the Pythagorean Sayings

    Before we get to the lost book, wait  and reflect on its author, the younger Anaximander of Miletus. ‘Our’ Anixmander must not be confused with Anixmander the Elder, arguably the first recorded philosopher who, in the sixth century BC, put down the some lines about the origin of the universe that have, against all the odds, […]

    The Lost Tragedy of Anne Boleyn January 28, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Lost Tragedy of Anne Boleyn

    An entry in the burning libraries catalogue… In 1536 Anne Boleyn was executed for sexual betrayal and for plotting the murder of the king, her husband Henry VIII. Beach has examined these extraordinary claims in another post, sufficient to say for now that there was almost certainly no substance to them, but that Henry VIII […]

    Burning Library: Apion’s Writings January 7, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Burning Library: Apion's Writings

    Beach has sometimes in the past celebrated burning libraries, books (and for the multimedia age films) which we know once existed but that have long since disappeared into the dusty maws of time. An impressive burning library author to add to the growing file is Apion Plistonices, impressive because Apion managed to lose not a […]

    The Pleasure of He Who Longs to Cross the Horizons November 12, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    The Pleasure of He Who Longs to Cross the Horizons

    A good book title should be like a good wine. It sits on your tongue and then spreads and then evokes… And there can be no genre of scholarly writing that evokes better than geography and travel literature the discoveries of those who, to respectfully rephrase one of the titles below, dared the horizon. Beach […]

    Burning Libraries: A Saucy Roman History Book July 8, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Burning Libraries: A Saucy Roman History Book

    This blogger remembers some sweaty hours reading Robert Graves’ translation of Suetonius’ The Twelve Caesars, Roman history reduced to salacious tabloid gossip. The sex, the violence, the sex, the poison, the magic, the sex and, of course, that swimming pool… But once Suetonius stops writing Roman history lovers have almost nothing until Ammianus Marcelinus’ surviving […]

    Burning Libraries: The Oregon Trail June 21, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Burning Libraries: The Oregon Trail

    The Oregon Trail is one of those endless low budget cowboy flicks that were trundled out in the 1930s: the original action films with moral certainty and moral scenery; oh and it also had John Wayne, one of seven cowboy movies he made in 1936. The IMBD database includes the following description. U.S. Army Captain John Delmont […]

    11 Burning Libraries: Book Lovers Beware April 29, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    11 Burning Libraries: Book Lovers Beware

    This blog has pioneered a series of burning libraries: books that didn’t make it (23 to date)… But what about real burning libraries? Libraries that, at some point in Antiquity or the Middle Ages, were gutted by fire, accidental or deliberate. I have included here a list of eleven devastatingly bad ‘burning libraries’ or ‘burning […]

    A Missing History of the Kings of the Franks in Cairo! March 9, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    A Missing History of the Kings of the Franks in Cairo!

    Our latest contribution to the burning library series is glimpsed, painfully briefly, in a tenth-century Arabic source. In the year 947, by the Christian calendar, the Islamic scholar Al-Mas’udi (obit 956) was rifling the shelves of a library in Cairo when he came across a suprising work. He had stumbled upon A History of the […]

    Evans-Wentz and a Missing Thesis July 16, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Evans-Wentz and a Missing Thesis

    Walter Evans-Wentz (obit 1965) was an American mystic who wrote, as a young man, before his interests went eastwards, the most important twentieth-century book about fairies: The Fairy Faith in Celtic Countries, published at Oxford in 1911. That book, available in many places on the web, can be broken down into three parts. The first […]

    Lord Acton’s Lost Work March 23, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Lord Acton's Lost Work

    Lord Acton is often reckoned one of the great historians of nineteenth-century England. Yet he published all too little despite tens of thousands of hours of study: a handful of essays and talks… His great book was to be have been a whig classic, a discussion of the growth of modern liberty. But that book […]

    The Lost Zen Letters: A Cautionary Tale about Children and Archives February 15, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    The Lost Zen Letters: A Cautionary Tale about Children and Archives

    ***Dedicated to KR who pointed Zenwards*** The story (as always) is a simple one, perhaps deceptively, perhaps dishonestly so. In 1558 in Dello scoprimento dell’ isole Frislanda, Eslanda, Engrouelanda, Estotilanda e Icaria fatto sotto il Polo artico da’ due fratelli Zeni, M. Nicolo il K. e M. Antonio (Of the Discovery of Frisolanda, Eslanda, Engrouelanda, Estotilanda and Icara […]

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