Paper: An Elegy

Paper: An Elegy

by Ian Sansom


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From the author of The Bad Book Affair comes a witty, personal, and entertaining meditation on the history and significance of paper—an international cultural study and a series of personal reflections on the meaning of this essential product.

Let us suppose for a moment that paper were to disappear. Would anything be lost? Everything would be lost.

Paper surrounds us. Not only as books, letters and diaries, but as beer mats and birth certificates, board games and business cards, fireworks and flypaper, photographs and playing cards, tickets and tea bags. We are paper people.

But the age of paper is coming to an end. E-books regularly outsell physical books. E-tickets replace the paper variety. Archives are digitized. The world we know was made from paper, and yet everywhere we look, paper is beginning to disappear. As we enter a world beyond paper, Ian Sansom explores the paradoxes of the greatest of man-made materials and shows how some kinds of paper, and the ghosts and shadows of paper, will always be with us.

Paper: An Elegy
is a history of paper in all its forms and functions. Both a cultural study and a series of personal reflections on the meaning of paper, this book is a timely meditation on the very paper it is printed on.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062385239
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 08/18/2015
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 256
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.91(d)

About the Author

Ian Sansom is the author of 10 books of fiction and non-fiction. He is a former Fellow of Emmanuel College, Cambridge and a former Writer-in-Residence at the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry in Belfast. He is currently a Professor in the Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies at the University of Warwick. He is a regular broadcaster on BBC Radio 4 and Radio 3 and he writes for The Guardian and The London Review of Books.

Table of Contents

Respecting Paper: An Introduction xi

1 A Miracle of Inscrutable Intricacy 1

2 In the Wood 17

3 Walking Papers 31

4 Victims to the BIBLIOMANIA! 45

5 Ornamenting the Facade of Hell 59

6 The Soul of Advertisement 77

7 Constructive Thinking 95

8 The Secret Is the Paper 115

9 The Squiggle Game 129

10 A Wonderful Mental and Physical Therapy 147

11 Legitimationspapiere 167

12 Five Leaves Left 185

The Hollow in the Paper: Acknowledgments 214

Tearing the Book into Pieces: A Bibliography 216

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