Last week felt like a really important step forward with The Birth of Territory manuscript. This week has been less dramatic, but good progress again. The discussion of Grotius and Selden now forms a brief coda to Chapter Seven which is on the rediscovery of Roman law. Thematically it fits well, though it’s not chronologically so comfortable. But in a way the discussion of De jure belli ac pacis the mare liberum/mare clausum debate leads nicely into Chapter Eight, which begins with the Treaty of Tordesillas and then reads Renaissance thought against the backdrop of colonisation.
A lot of the rest of the week has been spent chasing down as many references as possible before I leave London. The resources here are so terrific for the kind of research I’m doing. I know that there will be stray references that will come up when I’m away, but I’m trying to keep these to a minimum.
So it’s been things like Servius’ commentary on Virgil’s Aeneid; Nicolas of Cusa’s scientific treatises; Galileo’s book on the compass; some papal bulls; Tyrell’s response to Filmer that slightly predates Locke; a range of original language texts to check quotations. I’ve consolidated into one list all the things to check, find, track down, etc. from the individual chapters. There are lots of minor things that I want to get sorted out – a couple of texts in the Monumenta Germaniae Historica; an obscure reference to Plutarch cited by Lipsius; a minor check to the Decretum Gratiani; the original of a text by Aelius Aristides; the original text of the Treaty of Tordesillas (Spanish? Latin? Portuguese?); Montaigne and Voltaire in French… I’m hoping one day each in the British Library, Warburg Institute, Senate House Library and the Institute of Historical Research will tidy up the majority of these.
In terms of the chapters as a whole, Chapter One on Ancient Greece needs the most work – it was drafted nine years ago – but the others are in reasonable shape. The discussions of feudalism, the crusades, and Luther need work though.
And I also wrote a proposal for the book as a whole. I’ve never left that so late in a writing project before, and never written so much without a contract. But this book is, or at least has felt, different, so I’ve done things another way this time. Even though I am planning on about three more months work to complete the book, I’m definitely in the end stages. I think that is why Benjamin’s writing suggestions resonated so much.