The Libro de los Epítomes, a guidebook to the 16th century library of Hernando Colón, recently turned up in a manuscript archive in Denmark.
Suzanne Reitz/Arnamagnæan Institute, University of Copenhagen
It’s the stuff of a Hollywood blockbuster: Five hundred years ago, a son of Christopher Columbus assembled one of the greatest libraries the world has ever known. The volumes inside were mostly lost to history. Now, a precious book summarizing the contents of the library has turned up in a manuscript collection in Denmark.
The newly discovered manuscript is “an absolutely gorgeous thing,” says Edward Wilson-Lee, author of The Catalogue of Shipwrecked Books — a biography of Columbus’ son Hernando Colón. “It’s about the size of a coffee table book. It’s almost a foot thick. It’s 2,000 pages long in beautifully, beautifully clear handwriting.”
The reference volume, called the Libro de los Epítomes, was designed to help a user find books in the enormous library.
Colón was “looking for the Google algorithm of print,” Wilson-Lee explains: “How to take vast amounts of information and make something usable out of it.”
Consider this news in the context of other stories reported in the same BBC Newshour program from 10 April 2019: