The Gutenberg Revolution: A History of Print Culture

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One of the most puzzling lapses in accounts of the rise of the West following the decline of the Roman Empire is the casual way historians have dealt with Gutenberg’s invention of printing. The cultural achievements that followed the fifteenth century, when the West moved from relative backwardness to remarkable, robust cultural achievement, would have been impossible without Gutenberg’s gift and its subsequent widespread adoption across most of the world.

Richard Abel follows the radical cultural impact of the printing revolution from the eighth century to the Renaissance, addressing the viability of the new Christian/Classical culture. Although this culture proved too fragile to endure, those who salvaged it managed to preserve elements of the Classical substance together with the Bible and all the writings of the Church Fathers. The cultural upsurge of the Renaissance (fourteenth to seventeenth centuries), which resulted in part from Gutenberg’s invention, is a major focus of this book.

Abel aims to delineate how the cultural revolution was shaped by the invention of printing. He evaluates its impact on the rapid reorientation and acceleration of the cultural evolution in the West. This book provides insight into the history of the printed word, the roots of modern-day mass book production, and the promise of the electronic revolution. It is an essential work in the history of ideas.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“[I]t is thrilling to view Western history afresh through the prism of printed books as the engine of knowledge. As we try vainly to predict the social and epistemological consequences of the Internet, Abel’s history not only limns a still-neglected history, it stands as a rare tribute to his forebears in publishing.” —Angie Jabine, Reed Magazine “The Gutenberg Revolution: A History of Print Culture describes the history and impact of the radical printing revolution, starting his narrative from the eighth century to the Renaissance and considering the new Christian and classical world fostered from the new print era. Gutenberg's innovation truly changed the world: this focuses on how the Cultural Revolution was shaped by printing and is a scholarly survey recommended for history and literary collections at the advanced high school to college levels.” —California Bookwatch “Of special note is Richard Abel's 'Epilogue: Closing Remarks and Summary'. Enhanced with the inclusion of an extensive bibliography and a very useful index, "The Gutenberg Revolution: A History of Print Culture" is a truly informative read and should be considered a mandatory acquisition for academic library Writing/Publishing reference collections and supplemental reading lists.” —Library Bookwatch "Richard Abel's The Gutenberg Revolution: A History of Print Culture is a scholarly and passionate opus that demonstrates how printing permeated every aspect of life throughout the Renaissance. Covering the eleventh through seventeenth centuries, the book reflects the author's rich life as scholar, historian, editor, publisher, bookseller, and writer. Illuminated by a resolute search for the good and the true amid the turmoil of transforming centuries, The Gutenberg Revolution should be read by anyone seeking a thoughtful perspective on the twenty-first century, for which, Abel demonstrates, the pre-and post-Gutenberg centuries have powerful messages." —Gordon Graham, editor, LOGOS 1990-2009
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781412849524
  • Publisher: Transaction Publishers
  • Publication date: 8/13/2012
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 202
  • Sales rank: 786,039
  • Product dimensions: 9.00 (w) x 5.90 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Richard Abel was secretary of the LOGOS Foundation and a long-standing member of its editorial board. He founded and started numerous publishing houses, including Timber Press, Amadeus Press, and what is now Blackwell North America. He has well over forty years of experience in the publishing industry.

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Table of Contents

Introduction ix

1 A Brief Account of the History of the Culture of the West to 1450 1

2 Gutenberg's Printing Revolution and the Cultural Revolution of the Last Half of the Fifteenth Century 23

3 The Spread of Printing and Its Consequences in the Sixteenth Century 75

4 The Cultural Triumph of the Seventeenth Century and the Role of Print Therein 127

5 Epilogue: Closing Remarks and Summary 161

Bibliography 171

Index 185

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