Giornale Nuovo, a blog written anonymously by someone calling himself Misteraitch, is coming to an end after five years. Without any exaggeration, it has been one of the best things available on the net over that time, and Misteraitch’s efforts will be sorely missed.
Giornale Nuovo falls into that strange category of erudite blogs in which the author takes a personal passion and draws one into it. M.’s passion happens to be rare books, and in particular rare illustrated books. Based in Italy, and later somewhere in Scandinavia, he would haunt the odd bookstores of Europe tracking down rumors of quaint and curious volumes of forgotten lore — so to speak — and once acquired, he would digest them through his scanner and publish them on his blog, pointing out the peculiarities of his acquisitions. He is also an art lover, and was quite good at finding painters, sculptors, and installation artists that you had never heard of before but whom, after reading the blog, you would never forget.
And now, M. is hanging up his spurs. Fortunately, he will be leaving the archives of his blog up for a while, giving readers a chance to catch up on his industriousness somewhat belatedly — I almost said posthumously. M.’s main complaint, I take it, is exhaustion. It takes much out of a person to continuously publish writing of this caliber, and no doubt M. was concerned that his output would eventually flag. Going through the archives, however, I see little sign of this. All the entries are consistently good. Take, for instance, his contribution to our common knowledge with Curiosities of Literature, or his frequent entries on Emblem Books, or this one about Anthropomorphic Alphabets. These I selected randomly, just to give you a taste of what I have been enjoying for many months.
M. is also rightly famous for his giveaways. Every so often, he would decide that his bookshelves were too full, or his CD collection too disorganized, and he would simply list the overflow of books or music on his site, with charming descriptions, and then mail them, gratis, to the first person who showed any interest (one year I received Rachmaninov’s Vespers from him).
Such generosity was not uncommon with M., and his entire site is, in fact, a five year act of generosity in which he artfully lay out his personal tastes for the world to view. If you have never visited Giornale Nuovo before, then I heartily recommend that you take this opportunity to browse through its archives while it is still available. It is a monument of the Internet not to be missed, and a rare example of how technology, rather than twisting the human soul, can actually make it soar.