Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Oxford Revisited

The Bodleian Library, Oxford University

This morning, Clara had an appointment to do some research at the Archive of Performances of Greek and Roman Drama (APGRD), so I decided to join her for another day in Oxford. While Clara settled down at the Ioannou Centre for Classical and Byzantine Studies on St. Giles, I walked over to the Bodleian Library to look at an exhibit of 15th-century manuscripts and early printed editions of Boccaccio, Petrarch and Dante. For me, the biggest thrill was seeing Petrarch's own copy of Suetonius's Lives of the Caesars, with Petrarch's own marginal annotations. There, in Petrarch's own handwriting, was the name "Cicero." Let me explain my geekish glee. Petrarch was such a fan of Cicero that he even wrote a letter to the long-dead Roman author—perhaps one of the first examples of "fan fiction" in the history of literature.

From the Bodleian, I walked over to the university church of St. Mary the Virgin and climbed the tower, which gave me good views over Oxford. Below are the tower of St. Mary's behind the Radcliffe Camera (the famous Palladian style annex of the Bodleian); the best view of the Radcliffe Camera, from the tower; and a view of the quadrangle of All Souls College from the tower.




From St. Mary's, I forced myself to resist the pull of Blackwell's Bookshop and met Clara for lunch at the café in the Ashmolean (carrot and leek soup, bread, elderflower pressé, and pear and vanilla cake). After lunch, we looked at Greek vases, then Clara returned to the APGRD while I wandered through the Ashmolean (stopping again to see the charming portrait of Camille Pissarro's little daughter, Jeanne), then walked over to the Museum of Natural History and the Pitt Rivers Museum. The natural history museum is where Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) used to take little Alice Liddell to show her the taxidermy, including the famous Oxford dodo, and tell her fantastic stories. Below are: Clara looking at Greek vases in the Ashmolean Museum; violins (the one in the center is a Stradivarius) in the Ashmolean; and the view the greets the visitor upon entering the Museum of Natural History.




The Pitt-Rivers Museum, in the rear of the Museum of Natural History, is quite cluttered and dimly lit, so it was not conducive to photography. Here's the best I could do, showing the enormous totem pole that dominates the museum. The museum contains an enormous Victorian anthropological collection, with everything from musical instruments to shrunken human heads (tsantsas) from South America.

3 comments:

fabrile heart said...

Lovely photos. I am a little disappointed though, as I am going to miss the exhibition. Our next visit back to Oxford isn't until November, a week after is closes :(

Juliette said...

Well - how excellent is all this! Coming from Virago and LT I feel like I have got to know you a little vicariously. SO glad you enjoyed your stay in Oxford - we take a lot of children to the Pitt Rivers Museum - they love it depsite the slight murk. If you come back to England please let me know you would be welcome. We ar about 20 miles SOuth of Oxford. despite being a Cambridge girl I do try to love Oxford as well :)

juliette 07 LT

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