A History of Reading in the West / Edition 1

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About The Editors
Guglielmo Cavallo is professor of Greek palaeography at the University of Rome La Sapienza. Roger Chartier is directeur d'études at l'École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris.
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Editorial Reviews

Libraries and Culture
This collection of authoritative essays on reading since the ancient Greeks marks the culmination of more than twenty years of work. [The editors] have assembled the leading scholars in the history of reading to provide a well balanced, nearly comprehensive survey of developments in the West. . . . Mandatory reading for all scholars and their students in the history of the book and its many uses.
San Francisco Chronicle
It is no exaggeration to say that these historians, mining sources ranging from the financial records of trade fairs to the annals of the Inquisitions, have transformed and revitalized the field of book history. . . . A landmark achievement.
Its usefulness to scholars of the history of the book, reading, writing, and print cultures is immense. . . . Although a different author wrote each of its thirteen chapters, the volume enjoys a wonderful coherence, in large part attributable to the collection's excellent introduction. . . . Deserves a place in the library of any serious scholar of books, readers, or writers.
History of Reading News
The viewpoints offered by the authors are rich and varied, so that the ensemble of texts forms a veritable history of reading in the West, rather than thirteen individual and specialized chapters. . . . Men and women have not always read in the same manner, even if societies from ancient Greece to the present have been societies of the written word, of the written text. A study of their reading practices, and of the textual objects they read, can, the editors of this volume believe, inform the larger transformations western society has undergone.
Los Angeles Times Book Review
There is no way to encapsulate here the richness of these explorations.
Literature has not always been written in the same ways, nor has it been received or read in the same ways over the course of Western civilization. Cavallo (Greek palaeography, U. of Rome La Sapienza), Chartier (<'E>cole des Hautes <'E>tudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris) and a number of other international contributors, address themes that highlight the transformation of reading methods and materials over the ages, such as the way texts in the Middle Ages were often written with the voice in mind, as they would have been read aloud, or even sung. Articles explore the innovations in the physical evolution of the book, as well as the growth and development of a broad- based reading public. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Los Angeles Times
Proves the most bracing of these books, the essays of its 13 European contributors taking us on a high-quality plunge into a new area of study: the text's endlessly changing relationship to the reader. Each of these bold attempts to retrace forgotten gestures and bygone habits of the most historically ephemeral sort is based on the premise that, as Chartier puts it, "without a reader the text is merely virtual: it has no true existence.
From the Publisher

"Guglielmo Cavallo and Roger Chartier have assembled a remarkable team of international scholars to describe the history of reading in the West from classical times to the present day. Who reads, how they read to themselves and others, what they read, where they read, and what difference reading makes - these are the questions asked and answered, using the best techniques of social and cultural history and literary theory. An immense body of scholarship has been distilled into accessible and beautifully translated essays. To read is to travel, Chartier and Cavallo tell us in their wide-ranging Introduction. Their volume makes a fascinating voyage." Professor Natalie Zemon Davis, Department of History, Princeton University

"The genius of the book is in the analysis of the relationship between reading and society. The act of reading illustrates the cultural mindset and this book is a subtle but sure "re-reading" of history which is a revelation of minds past. It is about far more than reading; it is about spiritual authority and sex, it is about social control, secrets and rebellion ... it is a book-lover's delight." The Guardian

"Ranging from Ancient Greece to the Internet, edited by two leading scholars in this rapidly expanding field and written by a group of specialists in a lucid and accessible style, A History of Reading in the West will be quite indispensable for students and scholars alike." Peter Burke, Professor of Cultural History at the University of Cambridge

"… a landmark achievement." San Francisco Chronicle

"There is no way to encapsulate here the richness of these explorations." Los Angeles Times Book Review

"Mandatory reading for all scholars and their students in the history of the book." Libraries and Culture

"[The book] is certainly the best history of reading presently available and will provide book people with a rich and useful perspective on those pratices that we all endeavor to serve." Logos

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781558494114
  • Publisher: University of Massachusetts Press
  • Publication date: 10/7/2003
  • Series: Studies in Print Culture and the History of the Book
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 496
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Table of Contents

Publisher's Note.

Introduction: Guglielmo Cavallo and Roger Chartier.

1. Archaic and Classical Greece: The Invention of Silent Reading: Jesper Svenbro.

2. Between Volumen and Codex: Reading in the Roman World: Guglielmo Cavallo.

3. Reading, Copying and Interpreting a Text in the Early Middle Ages: M. B. Parkes.

4. The Scholastic Model of Reading: Jacqueline Hamesse.

5. Reading in the Later Middle Ages: Paul Saenger.

6. Reading in the Jewish Communities of Western Europe In the Middle Ages: Robert Bonfil.

7. The Humanist as Reader: Anthony Grafton.

8. Protestant Reformations and Reading: Jean-François Gilmont.

9. Reading and the Counter-Reformation: Dominique Julia.

10. Reading Matter and 'Popular' Reading: From the Renaissance to the Seventeenth Century: Roger Chartier.

11. Was there a Reading Revolution at the End of the Eighteenth Century? Reinhard Wittman.

12. New Readers in the Nineteenth Century: Women, Children, Workers: Martyn Lyons.

13. Reading to Read: A Future for Reading: Armando Petrucci.


Select Bibliography.


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