March 8

1481, 1618

Today in 1481, William Caxton published his own translation of Gautier de Metz's 1246 encyclopaedia "L'image du monde", under the English title "The Mirrour of the World". It was printed at the request and expense of Hugh Bryce, a mercer and alderman of the city of London, who planned to present the book to Lord Hastings, Edward IV's Lord Chamberlain, as a way, presumably, of advancing his own position. Gautier's book was itself an extension, in many places a mere copy, of the 12th century "Imago mundi", compiled by one Honorius Augustodunensis. The illustration is from Caxton's 2nd edition in 1489, now at the Glasgow University Library.

Why was this significant? I had imagined spending some weeks researching this extraordinary man, who brought printing to England, published Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales", translated books himself... the Adam of the trade, for a writer and blogger and publisher such as me. But now I know that I will never write this piece, because it would be pointless, because it would simply be a translation into my own words (probably, at times, a mere copy) of Tony Edwards' comprehensive and definitive piece, on the website of the British Library. You can read it here.

Today in 1618, Johannes Kepler announced the 3rd law of planetary motion. I have said "announced", and I am wondering if that is how the giving of the laws in the Bible should perhaps be translated: "And YHVH said to Mosheh, Do not... " Or "And God announced...." But this is a scientific law. Do scientific laws get "announced", or do they get "passed", like civil and religious laws; and if so, how do you repeal or amend them?

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