Hernando Colon's New World of Books Toward a Cartography of Knowledge Jose Maria Perez Fernandez, Edward Wilson-Lee

Publication date:
23 Mar 2021
Yale University Press
344 pages: 235 x 156 x 24mm
80 b-w illus.
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The untold story of the greatest library of the Renaissance and its creator Hernando Colón

This engaging book offers the first comprehensive account of the extraordinary projects of Hernando Colón, son of Christopher Columbus, which culminated in the creation of the greatest library of the Renaissance, with ambitions to be universal––that is, to bring together copies of every book, on every subject and in every language. Pérez Fernández and Wilson‑Lee situate Hernando’s projects within the rapidly changing landscape of early modern knowledge, providing a concise history of the collection of information and the origins of public libraries, examining the challenges he faced and the solutions he devised. The two authors combine “meticulous research with deep and original thought,” shedding light on the history of libraries and the organization of knowledge. The result is an essential reference text for scholars of the early modern period, and for anyone interested in the expansion and dissemination of information and knowledge.

José María Pérez Fernández is professor of English at the University of Granada. Edward Wilson-Lee is fellow and lecturer in English at Sidney Sussex College, at the University of Cambridge.

“A terrific book. The product of a long‑standing co‑operation between these two accomplished authors, combining meticulous research with deep and original thought.”—Andrew Pettegree, University of St. Andrews

“Detective story, biography, and curiosity, this ground‑breaking book shows how the library of the entrepreneur and theorist of knowledge, Hernando Colón, was central to the Renaissance aspiration to comprehensive understanding.”—Andrew Hadfield, University of Sussex

“This deeply researched study reconstructs Hernando Colón’s remarkable library—its manuscript and printed books, maps, ephemera, mercantile records, and epitomes, its millenarian imperial motives, and innovative methods of information management.”—Ann Blair, Harvard University

“This interdisciplinary study shines new light on the transnational formation of the Biblioteca Hernandina as well as on early modern globalization, history of the book, library science, and transcultural relations.”—Anne J. Cruz, University of Miami

“This fascinating, evocative reconstruction of Hernando Colón's world-encompassing library by Pérez Fernández and Wilson-Lee conjures vividly, for today´s readers, one of the early modern era's most exciting spaces.”—Felipe Fernández-Armesto, University of Notre Dame