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From Devotion to Collection: a European Best-seller and its Users

Miræus lectures,Wednesday 11 May 2011
Yann Sordet (Bibliothèque Mazarine)

Initially an essential vector of the Devotio Moderna movement, the book Imitatio Christi went on to influence all Christian sensibilities. Written around 1424, it circulated in the Rhineland and Flanders before spreading further afield to eventually becoming renown across all of Europe. Considering the history of its printing and publishing since 1470, one can regard it as a European best-seller. Throughout the modern era and, in part, the first half of the 19th century, a special relationship developed between The Imitation, both as a text and as a book, and its readers. More than perhaps those of any other devotional work, and for an exceptionally long period, surviving copies of this book show innumerable traces of this relationship, which is based on the singular function it fulfilled and a wider range of uses than would appear.


Yann Sordet studied history and graduated at the École nationale des chartes with a prize-winning thesis on the history of the practices of bibliophiles. After his study at the École nationale des sciences de l'information et des bibliothèques, he was appointed curator at the Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève, responsible for the Réserve (special collections, 2003-2010). Since this year, he is appointed as director of the Bibliothèque Mazarine. He teaches book history at a number of institutes, amongst which the renowned École nationale supérieure des sciences de l'information et des bibliothèques (ENSSIB).


The venue of the lecture is the Nottebohm Hall of the Erfgoedbibliotheek Hendrik Conscience, Hendrik Conscienceplein nr. 4 in Antwerp. Free entrance, but please confirm your attendance through