Review: Hogenberg & Braun’s Cities of the World by Stephan Füssel (ed.)

Cities of the World by Frans Hogenberg and Georg Braun

Cities of the World [1617/2015] – ★★★★1/2

Travelling – it gives you home in thousand strange places, then leaves you a stranger in your own land” (Ibn Battuta (1303 – 1377), a Berber Maghrebi scholar and explorer, who “travelled more than any other explorer in pre-modern history”, covering some 117.000 km over a 30 year-long journey).

This Taschen edition encyclopaedic book compiles engravings and original texts with commentaries from the Civitates orbis terrarum, a collection of town maps produced between 1572 and 1617 by Frans Hogenberg, a Flemish engraver, and Georg Braun, a German Catholic cleric, among other contributors. The book is often referred to as “the most important cartographic work of sixteenth-century Europe”, and includes town plans, bird’s-eye views of cities and stunning landscape illustrations of various cities’ domestic activities. Since these date from the sixteenth century and come from European authors, the book naturally talks predominantly about the cities of Europe (though it does include such cities as Constantinople (Istanbul), Cairo, Alexandria, Jerusalem, Cuzco and Mexico City, too), and retains its original title – Cities of the World. Below are just snippets from this fascinating illustrated book that spans some 750 pages and covers more than 450 cities.

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The Mid-Year Book Freak-Out Tag

I haven’t previously posted this tag, and I thought it would be fun – I have seen it on both the Literary Elephant and There’s Something About KM blogs. I have also skipped the questions on “best sequel” and “newest fiction crush” because, so far this year, I haven’t read a good sequel nor had a fiction crush.

Best Book You’ve Read So Far in 2020

That’s a tough question – it will probably be Orhan Pamuk’s My Name is Red – I enjoyed the murder mystery there, the intellectual and historic atmosphere, and the ending. The Silent Cry by Kenzaburo Oe was my other memorable read.

New Release You Haven’t Read But Really Want To

Death in Her Hands by Ottessa Moshfegh (the author of Eileen [2015] and My Year of Rest and Relaxation [2018]).

The synopsis to Death in Her Hands reads that this is a novel “of haunting metaphysical suspense about an elderly widow whose life is upturned when she finds a cryptic note on a walk in the woods that ultimately makes her question everything about her new home” (Goodreads). I also need to pick up The Truants by Kate Weinberg.

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My 3 Favourite Bookshops in Paris

I think it is now time to conclude my “European Bookshops” trilogy. Previously, I posted a list of My 3 Favourite Bookshops in Brussels and a list of My 3 Favourite Bookshops in London, and I am concluding with this list of My 3 Favourite Bookshops in Paris. Unlike Brussels and London, I have not lived in Paris for an extensive period of time, but have had a number of interesting visits to the city to compile this list of my favourite (maybe obvious, but still) bookstores that I like to go to if I want to read or browse books in English.

Shakespeare and Co PictureI. Shakespeare and Company

This may be a very obvious first choice and a very touristy place, but I still love this charming store whose windows look out on the Notre-Dame Cathedral that is situated opposite. The shop has a great selection of English-language books, and is labyrinthic and cosy. It also has a nice café next door that sells delicious coffee, pastries and store souvenirs. Shakespeare and Co. itself is considered a literary landmark of Paris, founded by George Whitman in 1951. Its twin store, opened in 1919, once hosted such literary giants as Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce and F. Scott Fitzgerald. The great thing about Whitman’s store is that it is open until late hours; hosts many literary events that showcase Anglophone writers; and, if you purchase a book there, it will be stamped with a unique Shakespeare and Company Kilometre Zero stamp. The Kilometre Zero of France, or the location from which historically all distances are measured, is located on the square that faces the Notre-Dame Cathedral. Continue reading “My 3 Favourite Bookshops in Paris”