Raymond Clemens

title.none: Kristeller and Krämer, Latin Manuscript Books (Raymond Clemens)

identifier.other: baj9928.0804.002 08.04.02

identifier.issn: 1096-746X

description.statementofresponsibility: Raymond Clemens, Illinois State University,

publisher.none: .

date.issued: 2008

identifier.citation: Kristeller, Paul Oskar and Sigrid Krämer. Latin Manuscript Books Before 1600: A List of the Printed Catalogues and Unpublished Inventories of Extant Collections. Ergänzungsband 2006 von Sigrid Krämer. Monumena Germaniae Historica. Hilfsmittel, vol. 23. Hannover: Hahnsche Buchhandlung, 2007. Pp. 153. 978-3-7752-1130-7. ISBN: 978-3-7752-1130-7.

type.none: Review

relation.ispartof: The Medieval Review

The Medieval Review 08.04.02

Kristeller, Paul Oskar and Sigrid Krämer. Latin Manuscript Books Before 1600: A List of the Printed Catalogues and Unpublished Inventories of Extant Collections. Ergänzungsband 2006 von Sigrid Krämer. Monumena Germaniae Historica. Hilfsmittel, vol. 23. Hannover: Hahnsche Buchhandlung, 2007. Pp. 153. 978-3-7752-1130-7. ISBN: 978-3-7752-1130-7.

Reviewed by:

Raymond Clemens
Illinois State University

This volume, as the long title makes clear, is a supplement to the fourth and latest edition of Paul Oskar Kristeller's Latin Manuscript Books before 1600: A List of the Printed Catalogues and Unpublished Inventories of Extant Collections, significantly expanded and revised by Sigrid Krämer in 1993. Arguably one of the most important finding aids for research in medieval and Renaissance manuscripts, Kristeller/Krämer is underutilized by graduate students and some post-graduates as well. Kristeller's original project sought to list every catalog of every European and North American collection, both printed and handwritten (Britain and France were largely ignored in the first edition because they had well documented collections in published catalogs). The title is a slight misnomer as Kristeller also included Italian language works from the second edition forward. He divides his bibliography into three sections: Section A contains bibliographies and statistics about libraries but does not include books that describe individual manuscripts; Section B lists all catalogs that cover more than one collection (both regional catalogs and studies that focus on specific types of manuscripts held in multiple collections); Section C, the bulk of the bibliography, is arranged by city and includes every catalog that contains descriptions of manuscripts in individual libraries or collections. In 1988, F. Edward Cranz printed the unpublished catalogs on microfilm, giving scholars easy access to the catalogs described in Kristeller that had often been unavailable outside the libraries themselves.

Kristeller's seminal bibliography, first published in Traditio in two sections in 1948 and 1952, grew out of two additional long-term projects Kristeller was pursuing at that time: his Iter Italicum: A Finding List of Uncataloged or incompletely cataloged humanistic manuscripts of the Renaissance in Italian and other Libraries (4 vols., 1965) and the Catalogus translationum et commentariorum: Medieval and Renaissance Latin Translations and Commentaries (now 8 vols.). The four editions of Latin Manuscript Collections follow the contours of contemporary European history. The first edition grappled with finding manuscripts in a continent devastated by two world wars. The catalogs Kristeller sought would not only reveal what survived, but also what was lost. Individual manuscripts and entire collections were moved, by theft or purchase, to new institutions and collectors. In his second edition, Kristeller was faced with the impenetrability, at least for a time, of the Iron Curtain. In later editions, Kristeller was able to travel to the Eastern Bloc nations and add those catalogs to his collection. The fourth edition, the first to be published by the MGH, is based on Kristeller's work but significantly augmented by Sigrid Krämer, who broadened it to include significant private collections and auction catalogs and deepened it by the inclusion of many new and overlooked sources. The two sections of the original work that necessitated looking up each entry twice were integrated, making it easier to locate materials. She also added a tremendous number of sources from German libraries, countering its former heavily Italian focus, and changed the bibliography's layout, making it easier for the researcher to distinguish individual libraries within each city in section C. The prefaces from all four editions and a searchable catalog of the fourth edition can be found online at the Monumenta Germaniae Historica's website.

It is the nature of such undertakings that they will be in constant need of revision, emendation and correction; this volume brings Kristeller and Krämer's work up to 2002. It is curious that the MGH chose to print this book rather than to simply emend its website, but the printed version insures that it sits on the shelves next to the earlier volumes (still, the editors should at least indicate on the website that the 2007 update exists in print). This volume illustrates the attention to detail and precision that have distinguished earlier editions. A spot check of some of the more arcane references demonstrated a great attention to detail, even for some of the more difficult to find bibliographies in local journals. Krämer also gives listings for manuscript holdings that she knows exist, but have not been, and may never be, cataloged. These uncataloged collections are virtually unknown outside Krämer's bibliography and she does an admirable job bringing them to scholarly attention. She also provides several helpful "hints" for getting at materials that are not yet cataloged, such as "Uncatalogued, but librarians in the Rare Book Room are very helpful," and of an illumination found in another collection: "uncatalogued, but reproduced as a Christmas card in 1983" (p. 116). Such comments warm the heart of reference librarians, but also point out the fact that the curators of a given collection are often far more knowledgeable about it than any written catalog could be; her comments will hopefully encourage the researcher to pursue the living sources as well as the written. I noted one misplacement, in which Lucia Bertolini's census of Gregorio Dati manuscripts in the Riccardiana Library (1985) is listed under Florentine libraries in general, rather than in the Riccardiana and Bertolini's census of Dati manuscripts in the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze (1988) is not listed under Florence or the BNCF. The date 2002 cannot be taken literally, especially with such a large project, and there are obviously a few studies published before that date that have not yet made it in. As Krämer notes in her introduction, several Eastern European states appear under their previous names (Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia), while the listings for materials in St. Petersburg (rather than Leningrad) appear under Russia rather than the Soviet Union and Ercegnovi (Herceg Novi) appears under Montenegro. Like Kristeller's volumes, Krämer's continues to be shaped by European politics. The existence of a new volume does mean that the researcher will have to consult both the main publication and the update, but the work involved is certainly well compensated. In sum, the update retains the merits of previous editions and should be found in any serious research library.

In his second edition of Latin Manuscript Books, Kristeller charged the reader: "All these secrets, or at least most of them, I shall disclose to the attentive reader of this rather bony compilation, provided he peruses it with the right spirit that should contain the appropriate doses both of knowledge and of curiosity." In 2008, the compilation is no longer bony, thanks to his efforts and those of his continuators, and it continues to grow and change, adapting itself to our increasing knowledge of manuscripts and their repositories. It remains one of the most impressive bibliographic achievements in the modern age and the continued release of periodic updates insures that it will long remain a vital source for any serious history of the period.