Damnation was an effective tool for the thief
who was not caught by human hands as punishments like excommunication and
anathema required participation by
the Church to condemn and ostracise the bibliomaniac for his or her actions.
Damnation was between the soul and the Creator and therefore did not require the
intervention of a human institution other than the curse itself. The book thief
who successfully stole a book would therefore still answer for the crime even if
their identity was undetected in the earthly life. An example of this type of
curse was recorded by Drogin from a
16th century missal in France:
Should anyone by craft of any device whatever abstract this book from this
place may his soul suffer, in retribution for what he has done, and may his
name be erased from the book of the living and not recorded among the Blessed"
Removing a person's name from the book of the living was the same as
damnation because, in Christian tradition, that volume contained all of the
names of people who would receive eternal life (Drogin,
70). Another example
is included which includes the use of damnation along with two innovations to
the standard curse: the use of rhyming and the fragmentation of visual field .
provides both the original Latin and a loose translation and arrangement
|May he who||
This book curse celebrates the accomplishment of the scribe in completing the
copy which was a massive undertaking but also condemns the thief with damnation
for stealing the text. The twining of the words in this way links visually
the closeness of the two opposing activities: creating and illegally acquiring
the text. In fact, both activities do have the common link in that they are inspired
by a love of books and it is that love of books that is the thread between the
Created by Sandra Anderson, March 2003.