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‘These Books are Tall and not Wide Enough’: Anomalous Page Dimensions in the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries

‘These Books are Tall and not Wide Enough’: Anomalous Page Dimensions in the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries

Paper given by Erik Kwakkel (Leiden University)

Given at Book Design from the Middle Ages to the Future. Traditions and Evolutions – International Congress held at the University of Antwerp on September 29-30, 2011

Various codicological studies have pointed out how the dimensions of the page in medieval manuscripts were more or less standard: as today, the relative width of the page commonly measured between 0.69 and 0.74 of its height. Sporadic deviations from this norm are encountered throughout the medieval period. However, in the eleventh and twelfth centuries a noteworthy number of such tall and narrow books were produced. This paper investigates this phenomenon: the explanations for the anomalous page dimensions are found in the contents of the books and in their manner of use.

Click here to visit Erik Kwakkel’s website Turning Over a New Leaf

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