A History of Reading in the West (Studies in Print Culture and the History of the Book)

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9781558494114: A History of Reading in the West (Studies in Print Culture and the History of the Book)

Books and other texts have not always been read in the way that we read them today. The modern practice of reading―privately, silently, with the eyes alone―is only one way of reading, which for many centuries existed alongside other forms. In the ancient world, in the Middle Ages, and as late as the seventeenth century, many texts were written for the voice. They were addressed to the ear as much as the eye, and they used forms that were oriented toward the demands of oral performance. This is one of the themes explored in this landmark volume. Written by a distinguished group of international contributors, it analyzes the transformations of reading methods and materials over the ages, showing that revolutions of reading have generally preceded revolutions of the book. The authors examine not only the technical innovations that changed physical aspects of books and other texts, but also the evolving forms of reading and the growth and transformation of the reading public. The volume will be invaluable to students of cultural history and to all those who want a fresh perspective on the history of books and their uses.

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From the Publisher:

A "Lingua Franca" Breakthrough Book

A pioneering survey of the changing practices of reading in Western culture, from antiquity to the present.

From the Back Cover:

Books and other texts have not always been read in the way that we read them today. The modern practice of reading - privately, silently, with the eyes alone - is only one way of reading which, for many centuries, existed alongside other forms. In the ancient world, in the Middle Ages and as late as the seventeenth century, many texts were written for the voice, and they used forms that were oriented towards the demands of oral performance.


This is one of the central themes explored in this wide-ranging and authoritative account of the changing practices of reading from the ancient world to the present day. An international team of leading historians analyses the transformations of reading methods and material over the ages, and shows that revolutions in reading generally precede revolutions of the book. They examine not only the technical innovations which change physical aspects of books and other texts, but also the changing forms of reading and the growth and transformation of the reading public. Contributors include Robert Bonfil, Guglielmo Cavallo, Roger Chartier, Jean-François Gilmont, Anthony Grafton, Jacqueline Hamesse, Dominique Julia, Martyn Lyons, M. B. Parkes, Armando Petrucci, Paul Saenger, Jesper Svenbro and Reinhard Wittmann.


This path-breaking study will become the standard work on the history of reading in the West. It will be indispensable to students of cultural history, and to all those who want a fresh perspective on the history of books and their uses.

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Cavallo, Guglielmo [Editor]; Chartier, Roger [Editor]; Cochrane, Lydia G. [Translator];
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