Gifts & books : from early myth to the present / edited by Nicholas Perkins.

  • Oxford : Bodleian Library, 2023.
  • ©2023
171 pages : illustrations (colour) ; 26 cm


Summary note
"We all know about giving and receiving gifts: they can be touching or puzzling, either strengthening bonds of friendship or becoming a burden. Gifts are an integral part of human societies and this volume explores how, over the centuries, books and writing describe gifts in all their complexity, but also become precious gifts themselves. In a series of thought-provoking essays, richly illustrated from the Bodleian Library's collections and beyond, the contributors illuminate some of the striking ways in which writing interacts with those fundamental impulses to give, receive and reciprocate. Each chapter draws on a particular perspective, including archaeology and religion, history, literature and anthropology. From an ancient Sumerian tablet recording the founding of a temple to contemporary children's literature that highlights the pleasures and troubling histories of exchange and inheritance, the dynamics of the gift are at work across space and time. This book features gorgeous medieval manuscripts, gifts made by and for Queen Elizabeth I, Victorian Christmas tales and a mysterious Scottish book sculpture. Stories of sacrifice, love, loyalty and friendship are woven into these books and objects, showing the ongoing power of the gift to shape the stories we tell about ourselves. Exhibition: Bodleian Library, Oxford, UK (16.06. - 29.10.2023)"--Publisher's description.
Bibliographic references
Includes bibliographical references and index.
  • Acknowledgements
  • Foreword
  • Introduction
  • 1. Gods, gifts and writing in ancient religious imaginations
  • 2. Writing the body and gifting the dharma : Buddhist traditions of gift, text and knowledge
  • 3. Donation and desire in medieval books
  • 4. Gifts and exchange in early modern society
  • 5. The gift of reading
  • 6. Myths of the gift for children and young adults
  • 7. Two cups, a shell and some books : reflections on anthropology and gifting
  • Notes
  • Further reading
  • Contributors
  • Picture credits
  • Index.
Other title(s)
Gifts and books
  • 9781851246106 (hardback)
  • 185124610X (hardback)
Statement on language in description
Princeton University Library aims to describe library materials in a manner that is respectful to the individuals and communities who create, use, and are represented in the collections we manage. Read more...
Other views
Staff view

Supplementary Information