Palimpsest: A History of the Written Word

Palimpsest: A History of the Written Word

by Matthew Battles


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Palimpsest: A History of the Written Word by Matthew Battles

A profound, eloquent meditation on the history of writing, from Mesopotamia to multimedia.Why does writing exist? What does it mean to those who write? Born from the interplay of natural and cultural history, the seemingly magical act of writing has continually expanded our consciousness. Portrayed in mythology as either a gift from heroes or a curse from the gods, it has been used as both an instrument of power and a channel of the divine; a means of social bonding and of individual self-definition. Now, as the revolution once wrought by the printed word gives way to the digital age, many fear that the art of writing, and the nuanced thinking nurtured by writing, are under threat. But writing itself, despite striving for permanence, is always in the midst of growth and transfiguration.Celebrating the impulse to record, invent, and make one's mark, Matthew Battles reenchants the written word for all those susceptible to the power and beauty of writing in all of its forms.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780393352924
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 07/12/2016
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 1,070,018
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Matthew Battles is the author of Palimpsest and Library: An Unquiet History and a program fellow at the Berkman Center of Harvard University, where he is associate director of metaLAB, a research group exploring the bounds of networked culture.

Table of Contents

Foreword: Mind as Page 1

Books in Running Brooks 5

Origins and Nature 19

Pictures and Things 56

Writing and Power 87

Holy Writ 120

Logos Ex Machina 155

Afterword: Pace as Mind 217

Acknowledgments 223

Notes on Sources 227

Illustration Credits 239

Index 241

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