New edition of The Book of Miracles, the 16th century's premier guide to the apocalypse

The Book of Miracles (also known as the Augsburg Book of Miraculous Signs) is a compendium of beautiful 16th-century illustrations of cosmic anxiety and apocalyptic surrealism. The new edition from Taschen, edited by Till-Holger Borchert and Joshua P Waterman, is a perfect introduction to the Renaissance obsession with signs, portents and the damned weird.

The BBC reports on the manuscript's awesome and unsettling qualities.

Each image, such as 1009 - Burning torch, is accompanied by a caption that leaves no doubt as to its grim message: “In the year AD 1009, the sun went dark and the moon was seen all blood­red and a great earthquake struck and there fell from the sky with a loud and crashing noise a huge burning torch like a column or a tower. This was followed by the death of many people and famine throughout Germany and Italy. More people died than remained alive.”

By drawing from ancient, biblical and contemporary traditions of prophecy in roughly chronological order, The Book of Miracles follows an established structure similar to other contemporary books of wonders. It’s a tradition that highlights the period’s ordering of history through the prism of apocalyptic signs and visions. “When studying this one-of-a-kind series of illustrations,” Waterman says, “it’s important to keep in mind the structuring principle of Christian world history.”

The Book of Miracles [Amazon]

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