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  • The Inventio Fortunata: A Lost Medieval Journey to the Arctic North November 20, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    The Inventio Fortunata: A Lost Medieval Journey to the Arctic North

    The Inventio Fortunata sometimes written the Inventio Fortunae (likely a mistaken amendment by an over anxious sixteenth-century author) is one of the most extraordinary documents NOT to come down to us from posterity. It was written in the fourteenth century, either at sea or in England, by a friar for the King of England, Edward […]

    The Missing Autobiography of Mario Esposito October 28, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval
    The Missing Autobiography of Mario Esposito

    Mario Esposito (obit 1975) was a talented medievalist born to an Italian family in that glittering Dublin of Joyce, Yeats and Beckett. ME got involved with the struggle for Irish independence, was a keen mountaineer, but above all published on Irish manuscripts. His first academic article was written when he was 18, a rather misinformed […]

    The Postures: A Missing Erotic Classic May 22, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Postures: A Missing Erotic Classic

    Beachcombing has often celebrated in this place lost books and burning libraries. Today he wants to celebrate a book that while not lost (it can be found in a modern edition on the top shelves of academic institutions around the world) got through to us by the skin of its erotic teeth. Beach refers, of course, to  I […]

    The Gospel of the Witches: Missing or Faked? April 6, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Gospel of the Witches: Missing or Faked?

    Beach is not waving but drowning in the flood of work, but the summer is coming closer and – oh wonderful – closer. Soon he’ll be able to settle down to four months of light teaching and heavy research. Most of the cherry-blossom time will be given over to fairies. However, Beach has also been […]

    Burning Libraries! Two Lost Folklore Collections January 20, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Burning Libraries! Two Lost Folklore Collections

    Historical blindspots: every age has them. Take the relative lack of interest in folklore prior to the eighteenth century. When folklore heats up in the later nineteenth century you cannot walk across the parlour without tripping over a book on fairies or witches. This means that anything written before say 1860 is particularly precious and any loss all […]

    Hearts, Genies and Gnosticism at Nag Hammadi October 14, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary
    Hearts, Genies and Gnosticism at Nag Hammadi

    Howard Carter whispering ‘wonderful things’, Leslie Alcock finding Dark Age timber at Cadbury (‘that was Camelot’), Bedouin shepherds investigating a complex of caves at the Dead Sea… All wonderful, of course. But for Beachcombing none of these quite match the thrill of the discovery at Nag Hammadi in 1945. In that year, possibly in December, […]

    Boethius’s Astronomy: Did it Exist? October 4, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval

    Beach has always had a thing about Boethius (obit 525). Boethius penned the great Consolation of Philosophy, a strangely affecting study of human priorities, while waiting for his execution. Boethius hovers between Neo-Platonism and Christianity: he is, in some senses, the missing link between the two religions. Then Boethius also  wrote books that do not […]

    Google Burns the Library at Alexandria May 28, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite
    Google Burns the Library at Alexandria

    Imagine a visit to the universal library: a building in which all books, manuscripts, scrolls, rolls and tablets from all civilisations and all ages have been placed next to each other on shelves running for tens and tens of miles. When Borges and others wrote about this fabulous place in generations past theirs was only […]

    Misplacing Masterpieces at Railway Stations April 29, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Misplacing Masterpieces at Railway Stations

    Beachcombing heard today that his father – pater Beachcombing – will soon be coming for a visit to the Beachcombing house in Little Snoring – the first time in a couple of years, so a cause of celebration. Beachcombing’s favourite story about his father is that once while travelling by train to his publisher in […]

    Iambulus’s Island March 3, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Iambulus's Island

    **Beachcombing dedicates this post to author and Diodorus scholar Ed Murphy (After the Funeral) who inspired the following** Ancient historian, Diodorus Siculus (obit 1st cent BC) has appeared before on this blog for his description of a mysterious island out in the Atlantic. However, Diodorus, at the end of his second book, also wrote about an […]

    Walter’s Ancient Book in the British Tongue February 25, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Walter's Ancient Book in the British Tongue

    Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History of the Kings of Britain was not only one of the most popular books of the Middle Ages. It was also one of the most mysterious and controversial. In c.1136 Geoffrey offered to the world and to his patron Robert of Gloucester this epic relating to the ancient and early medieval history of […]

    Plato’s Atlantis Before Plato December 5, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Plato's Atlantis Before Plato

    Ah Atlantis… Say the word to a marine biologist, whose marriage has just ended, or a billionaire at a loose end and the chances are that they will go running off and find Plato’s mysterious continent in Bolivia or Ireland… Indeed, almost every region, island and country in the western hemisphere – including Bolivia and Ireland… […]

    Tennyson Loses Poland November 12, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Tennyson Loses Poland

    In the encylopedia of burning libraries Alfred Tennyson’s lost long poem Poland is a minor entry, but it is still one that deserves to be written and perhaps even to be read about. It also brings together three of Beachcombing’s favourite themes: Poland and Tennyson – obviously – but also the incomparable William Allingham whose diary is the […]

    Rant: Lost Works, Mary Beard and ‘the Survival of the Fittest’ November 3, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    Rant: Lost Works, Mary Beard and 'the Survival of the Fittest'

    ‘Mary Beard’, ‘Mary Beard’..: even now, twenty years on from the beginning of Beachcombing’s infatuation (naturally unfulfilled), the words are enough to send a lightening bolt into that blogger’s overstrained central cortex. Beachcombing still remembers seeing Mary’s swan-like body for the first time, in the reading room at the UL: indeed, Beachcombing trembled as Britain’s most beautiful […]

    In Search of Aristotle’s ‘On Comedy’ August 29, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    In Search of Aristotle's 'On Comedy'

                In 1928 that old grumpystiltskins K.K. Smith wrote that ‘Like many another Lost Atlantis the chapter on comedy which Aristotle may have written to conclude his analysis of Poetics has lured many a searcher into waters beyond his depths.’ And, mindful of the warning, Beachcombing straps on his Little […]

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