Scottish literature

For the Love of Old Books

I like many things, but there are not many things that I love. I definitely love incunabula (books printed between 1455 and 1500) and early modern period printed books. Yesterday I went to Edinburgh to look at some very old printed books from Scotland. I was not disappointed. I have long been interested in and worked on the shift from (handwritten) manuscripts to the (printed) books. The shift is not as abrupt and clear as many people assume; post-Gutenberg handwritten manuscripts were still produced and printers arguably sought to make their product look as much like handwritten manuscripts as possible. Although The Scottish National Library do not hold any incunabula (as far as I know), I was pleased to see some early 16th century books which still displayed evidence of this urge to mimic handwritten manuscripts: typefaces designed to resemble handwriting, woodcuts trying to look like hand-drawn illustrations and rubrication (emphasising parts of the text using red ink). Gorgeous, fascinating stuff.

And Edinburgh was her usual, gloomy, beautiful, fantastical self. I like visiting the city but I couldn't live there, I think.

The Clare McLean Shortlist

AL Kennedy, the recent winner of the Costa Book Award, has been nominated for the brand-new Scottish literary award, the Clare McLean Award. She is joined on the shortlist by Ali Smith and Alasdair Gray for "Girl Meets Boy" and "Old Men In Love" respectively.

(Oh, did I mention that I have a first edition of "Old Men in Love" signed personally by Gray "To Karie says Alasdair"..? I just thought I'd slip that one in.)

I'm a touch excited by this. I should also get around to reading Gray's latest novel - but I'm slightly anxious that I might defile my lovely copy somehow. Oh.