Books of The Hour

A 14th century French Book of Hours
A 14th century French Book of Hours

Books of the Hour

How does one distinguish a good book from a bad book? Read John Ruskin’s words about the Books of the Hour versus the Books of All Time.

“For all books are divisible into two classes, the books of the hour, and the books of all time.”

The quotation is quite well-known. But Ruskin goes on to say,

“Mark this distinction—it is not one of quality only. It is not merely the bad book that does not last, and the good one that does. It is a distinction of species. There are good books for the hour, and good ones for all time; bad books for the hour, and bad ones for all time.”

John Ruskin, 1891

Below, from Columbia University’s Rare Book and Manuscript Library in New York is an image from a rare book given by Ruskin to Rose La Touche in 1860.

The text was written in Latin on parchment, using silver for the text and gold for the rubrics. It was made in France in the latter half of the 15th century (1450-1499).

Book Hours Quote Ruskin
New York, Columbia University, Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Plimpton MS 287

It was “bound in modern times in a leaf from an antiphonal.” The text was written on parchment in Gothic script.  It is believed to be from England in the 15th century.  The use of the square notes and 4 lines in the staff are also indicators of age.

Book Hours Quote Ruskin
New York, Columbia University, Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Plimpton MS 287

Flashing forward a few hundred years, here is an award-winning book from French publisher Albin Michel which made waves at the 2018 Bologna Children’s Book Fair.

Books Hours Quote Ruskin
Blexbolex’s SAISONS from French publisher Albin Michel Jeunesse created a huge buzz at the 2018 Bologna Children’s Book Fair

Books of the Hour versus Books of all Time?

A matter of time and discernment.