Reading Europe: European culture through the book

Europeana, Europe’s digital library, museum and archive, has launched an online exhibitions that explore highlights of the continent’s literature. Reading Europe: European culture through the book showcases the full texts of 1,000 of Europeana’s most fascinating books, from medieval cookbooks to 18th century English bestsellers.

Many literary masterpieces can be found in their earliest printings, including Don Quixote in the first Spanish edition and Dostoyevsky’s The Idiot in the first Russian edition. Visitors can browse richly decorated manuscripts and discover compelling historical works like Jammers Minde – the fascinating 17th century autobiography of a King’s daughter and her 22-year imprisonment in Copenhagen’s infamous Blue Tower. Reading Europe offers a unique opportunity to view literary gems in 32 languages, from Albanian to Yiddish.

Dozens of works from the Middle Ages are represented in this exhibition, including The Holy Cross Sermons, which are the oldest record in the Polish language in the collections of the National Library of Poland. They were written probably about the middle of the 14th century. Another highlight is the Gruuthuse Manuscript, which was printed in Bruges around 1395 to 1408.

It was commissioned by Europeana and curated by The European Library, working with experts in Europe’s national libraries. It gives users an engaging introduction to some of Europe’s literary highlights, selected from among nearly 5 million digitised texts on Europeana.

Europeana also unveiled Reshaping Art Nouveau, an online exhibition that takes visitors on a cross-border journey that encompasses everything from domestic furnishings and decorative art to architecture and advertising. It tells the story of how the curved lines and floral themes of Art Nouveau. gives people free access to books, paintings, films, sounds, museum objects and archives that have been digitised throughout Europe. At present it holds 12 million items from over 1,500 organisations, including major international collections and specialist local resources. It is supported by the European Commission.


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