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Bestiary: Being an English Version of the Bodleian Library, Oxford, MS Bodley 764
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Bestiary: Being an English Version of the Bodleian Library, Oxford, MS Bodley 764

4.36  ·  Rating details ·  99 ratings  ·  9 reviews
Bestiaries are a particularly characteristic product of medieval England, and give a unique insight into the medieval mind. Richly illuminated and lavishly produced, they were luxury objects for noble families. Their three-fold purpose was to provide a natural history of birds, beasts and fishes, to draw moral examples from animal behaviour (the industrious bee, the ...more
Paperback, 206 pages
Published January 1st 1992 by Boydell Press (first published 1237)
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Average rating 4.36  · 
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Phil Watson
Sep 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
Published in the style of an illuminated manuscript, this volume is a great insight into the medieval perception of the natural world, religion, and mankind's place between the two.
Nov 01, 2017 rated it liked it
I feel odd rating this text, as it is so darn old and absolutely does not fit within the 1 - 5 star literature review system. I thought this book was really fun and interesting to read. The introduction was informative and well-written. It absolutely needs to be read contextually.
Ashley Catt
Feb 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book is a translation from the original Latin text of the MS Bodley 764, which was produced in the first half of the 13th-century. It is supposed to replicate the original form of the book, embellished with the illuminated illustrations in their original positions, just in the form of a modern book that is accessible to readers of this age.

It is useful as a sourcebook. Obviously it would not be used for any present day observations regarding animals, however it works well if we are looking
N.J. Ramsden
A lovely book, printed well on good paper, with good quality reproductions of the all-important images. Barber's translation is easy going, and his introduction is clear and informative. The page layout may seem odd at first, with its unusually large text, but Boydell have tried to replicate the format of the original manuscript, maintaining the relative positions of the text and images throughout, which is in interesting approach that helps show some of the compromises of the material.

Feb 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Loved it and had a hard time putting it down. originally written in medieval times, it describes animals birds and reptiles, I am assuming based on what they have heard about them because much of it sounds more like myth/legend and includes dragons, unicorns and other mythical creatures. I have often heard it said that the unicorn was actually a rhino, but no rhino i have ever seen could leap into a virgin's lap. most of the creature's natures were then compared to stories from the bible and the ...more
Mar 25, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
A useful and interesting look into the medieval worldview. This book is entertaining in its own right for the insight it gives into the medieval mind as well as the fantastically far-fetched descriptions of creatures that can now be seen in most zoos. I particularly like the idea that Tigers will stop top suckle a crystal ball if it is dropped in their path because they'll think the reflection is their offspring.
Oh, you crazy monks . . .
Apr 11, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This English translation saved my (academic) life.
With an engaging style, brilliantly reproduced miniatures, and a clear introduction that treads the line between scholarly and introductory, the text is a highest order demonstration of Medieval material revived.
Thom Dunn
An absolute stunner. Coffee-table contents in a carry-around form.
May 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
I bought this as a present for one of my daughters. I have not read it myself, but she showed me some of the wonderful illustrations.
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name.

Richard William Barber (born 1941) is a prominent British historian who has been writing and publishing in the field of medieval history and literature ever since his student days. He has specialised in the Arthurian legend, beginning with a general survey, Arthur of Albion, in 1961, which is still in print in a