28 Apr 2017
The Organic Telegraph
In this global village, and in the era of instant messaging services and blog posts read live around the world on our mobile phones (you are being watched indeed!), let us not forget that today’s latest tools are tomorrow’s antiques!

This proof is this book of another age, by the French-German physician and inventor Auguste-Guillaume Schwenger, published just 217 years ago, in which the author presented his own variant of the Chappe telegraph, variant based on the use of the human body to form print characters observable remotely through a telescope!

That, dear readers, is what you call a communication exercise!

posted by  Benjamin at  15:02 | permalink | comments [1]

21 Apr 2017
"Bona diada de Sant Jordi" !
This Sunday, World Book Day, we will have the pleasure of strolling in a city of Barcelona in full effervescence on the occasion of the “Diada de Sant Jordi”: throughout the whole city, the inhabitants will celebrate Saint George, the saint patron of Catalonia, gifting books and red roses to their loved ones, in a great celebration of culture !
While our French friends will also certainly celebrate World Book Day, we know that they are occupied by matters of the highest importance, as they will be voting to elect their new head of state on Sunday !
On this occasion, let us present to you this very rare work by Antonio Pérez i Maxo, who between 1627 and 1632 was the Bishop of Urgell, a province of Catalonia that borders on the principality of Andorra. As such, and as some of you know for sure, the Bishop of Urgell was and still is one of the two co-princes of the Andorran throne, a position he holds along with... the head of the French State !
Let us hope then that, like Pérez i Maxo, a man of great erudition and a fertile writer, the next French president will also be a lover of books and culture !

Antonio Pérez i Maxo, "Constituciones Synodales del Obispado de Urgel, para los Parochos, y Clerigos", Barcelona: Pedro Lacavalleria, 1632. (Cf. Palau, 60332)

posted by  Benjamin at  15:51 | permalink | comments [2]

13 Apr 2017
A little bit more courtesy, please !
In these times of widespread political tension, let us remind our leaders (and those who aspire to become so !) of some basic rules of common courtesy !

posted by  Benjamin at  14:38 | permalink | comments [0]

7 Apr 2017
De ars articulationem
Our most dedicated readers know about our very special interest in medicine and the works which have marked its advances; today being World Health Day, we could not miss the opportunity to present to you a very special work on the topic !

Published in the year 1802 and unrecorded by the authors of the top medical bibliographies which we have consulted, this work entitled Principes d’Arthrologie ou l'Art d'étudier méthodiquement les articulations du corps humain ("Principles of Arthrology, or the Art of studying the articulations of the human body methodically") is probably the first ever monograph on the topic and, as far as we know, its author Dr. Jean-François Seneaux from the University of Montpellier is to be credited with coining the term "arthrology" !

Synovist bibliophiles, articulators of knowledge, cartilaginous collectors, do not hesitate to light our lanterns if you know more about the topic ! But do not forget to warm up and stretch yourself before and after the effort !

posted by  Benjamin at  15:45 | permalink | comments [0]

31 Mar 2017
Thank you, Senyor Subirá !
Today, the day of Saint Benjamin, I have arbitrarily decided to share with you one of the most striking works I have had the pleasure working on along the course of the recent months: a very unique piece, full of humor, tenderness... and catalanness !

The work of a certain Mr. L. Subirá, this superb manuscript of a comic strip is dated from 1927. Dedicated to the author's wife, it was nonetheless intended to be read by young hearts of all ages: the 55 colored pencil and ink drawings which compose it depict the tragicomic wanderings of a bleach merchant... and his donkey ! (The famous "ruc catalá", which perhaps inspired the donkey Benjamin of George Orwell...)

For hours, I tried to find out who exactly was the brilliant author of this beautiful tale, in vain, but had tremendous fun following the two anti-heroes on the roads of the Barcelona area, in the shopping streets of the Catalan villages of Sant Llorenç or Gelida, between the displays of pine nuts, garrofón bean or sobrasada. Yum !

So, whoever you are, thank you, Mr. Subirá !

posted by  Benjamin at  16:43 | permalink | comments [0]

17 Mar 2017
Rousseau at an Irsihman's in Montpellier
You and I know about the legendary hospitality of the people whose members and friends will today be walking along the streets of all the great cities of the world, dressed in green for the occasion – the colour of the shamrock and the wild fields of the island of Éire ! That very hospitality led the author of the work we’d like to present to you today to have none other than Jean-Jacques Rousseau as a guest !

On this Saint Patrick's Day and as a tribute to all the Irish people of the world, we present to you a very rare medical thesis defended in 1749 by Thomas Fitz-Maurice in the prestigious Faculty of Medicine in Montpellier, a city where this Irishman had established in order to pursue his medical studies and where (perhaps seduced by the low rainfall of the Mediterranean climate ...) he would remain all his life.

A few years before presenting this thesis, M. Fils-de-Maurice had the honour of having Rousseau staying at his boarding-house – the philosopher was (wrongly) convinced he suffered from a heart polyp and meant to have it cured by the best specialists. It is unknown whether Rousseau’s case served as a basis for the study of the similarities between the hysterical and hypochondriac passions contained in the work, but the chapter on narcotic convulsions could turn out to be very topical this evening, with all that stout beer flowing !

posted by  Benjamin at  16:21 | permalink | comments [1]

21 Feb 2017
I beg your pardon ?
posted by  Benjamin at  16:16 | permalink | comments [0]

20 Jan 2017
From One Inauguration to Another...
As the whole world is watching the ceremony in Washington, D.C., on a day which incidentally is the anniversary of the birth of King Charles III of Spain (January 20, 1716 - December 14, 1788), we have decided to evoke another inauguration.
It is our pleasure to present to you a fine copy of El Triumpho Mayor de Alcides (1760), a work that Grenadian poet Francisco Scotti Fernández de Córdoba (1704-1770) composed for the coronation celebrations of the Spanish monarch, and which was printed by Spanish master typographer Joaquín Ibarra.
Scotti’s work is a theatrical play of classical inspiration, which features such great figures of Greek mythology as Theseus or the Amazons, and which ends in an apotheosis of songs and dances, dedicated to the glory of the king and queen, Marie-Amelie of Saxony. Most interestingly, the introductory loa features allegorical incarnations of virtues such as Loyalty, Justice, Courage, Merit, Liberality, Genius or Goodness.
One can only wish that these virtues also accompany the 45th President of the United States of America, the independance of which was facilitated by the action of Carlos III himself.

posted by  Benjamin at  15:34 | permalink | comments [0]

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