Conrad Gesner: Illustrated Inventories with the use of Wonderful Woodcuts, Marisol Erdman, University of Glasgow Library BlogMarilena Pateraki
Conrad Gesner was every part the ‘Renaissance man’, a true polymath with a wide range of interests which are reflected in the breadth and variety of his works. Although perhaps best known for his influential encyclopedic works on the natural world his early works on other topics establish Gesner’s clear fascination with compiling and organising inventories of knowledge.
Take, for example, one of Gesner’s earliest works in our collection, the Bibliotheca universalis, published in 1545 (Sp Coll Ferguson Ak-x.17). Here, Conrad attempted to compile a compendium, organised alphabetically by author, of all the printed books (in Greek, Latin and Hebrew) in circulation for the first time. A daunting task not short on inventorial ambition and one that associates him with the origin of the bibliography as we know it. Ten years later in 1555, his Mithridates. De differentiis lingvarvm (Sp Coll Hunterian Bd.2.10) recorded a list of all the known languages in Conrad’s time.
In the sixteenth century intellectual interest in the natural world was growing, spurred on by advances in empirical knowledge developed through exploration and travel. Alongside this classical texts on these subjects, such as the works of Aristotle and Pliny, were also being made more widely available by the development of the printing press.
In 1551 Zurich based printer Christoph Froschouer published the first volume of Gesner’s monumental work the Historia Animalium (Sp Coll Hunterian A.a.1.1-4). Published in four volumes between 1551 and 1558, with an additional volume on snakes published after his death, Gesner aimed to bring together all the existing knowledge on every known animal, another bold and ambitious task! The first four volumes are divided into four-footed animals that gave birth to living young (viviparous quadrupeds); four-footed animals that that lay eggs (oviparous quadrupeds); birds; and finally, aquatic animals.
Η συνέχεια εδώ.