— Oriel College Senior Library
From my perspective, the Senior Library of Oriel College is a well-preserved historic interest instead of a self-study place as described. I was so excited to take the opportunity to look at and even touch those yellowed pages, who apparently have witnessed the vicissitudes more than anyone else in that exquisite room.
Hereby I would like to reiterate the stories of two most appealing books to me.
Rudimentum Noviciorum’s World Map (Lübeck: Lucas Brandis, 1475)
It is alleged that “This map of the world derives from a long tradition of world maps based on Christian and medieval geographic concepts” and “Many of the place names and features on the map depict ideas of distant places or wonders that were generally derived from ancient travel”.
With the Pope at the lower left, enthroned in Rome, while the Pillars of Hercules adorn the foot of the map, the world map pictures the inhabited lands of three continents surrounded by the boundless ocean. Above the upper left quadrant, the word “America” has been written in ink – given that this map was published many years before Columbus set off, there is no need to emphasize how interesting it is! However, it seems that the concept of “China” is reflected nowhere.
I always have the belief that what I perceive by seeing and imagining jointly determines the real world of mine, rather than what the others have taught to me. Maybe one day I will be able to draw my own map of the world!
Paradisi in Sole Paradisus Terrestris (PARKINSON, John)
Paradisi in Sole Paradisus Terrestris describes the proper cultivation of plants in general, and is in three sections: the flower garden, the kitchen garden, and the orchard garden. It does not include specific growing instructions for each type of plant, but at the start of each main section Parkinson provides instructions on “ordering” each type of garden, advising on situating and laying out a garden, tools, soil improvement, grafting, planting and sowing and the types of plants that should be included in each type of garden. It contains illustrations of almost 800 plants in 108 full-page plates.
When I was doing botanical experiments back in my home university, two issues that particularly perplexed me were plant classification and painting. Therefore, you would never imagine how amazed I was on appreciating such a masterpiece in which both were accomplished elaborately and impeccably.
Immersed in such an atmosphere of academia, one could never expect to peruse every page of those antiques but be stunned and moved by the attitude and the devotion in an “old fashion”. At the moment when I stepped out, I felt like leaving a resplendent palace, gold deeply buried in mind.