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The Author's Hand and the Printer's Mind: Transformations of the Written Word in Early Modern Europe



The Author's Hand and the Printer's Mind: Transformations of the Written Word in Early Modern Europe

Roger Chartier

ISBN: 978-0-745-65601-4 November 2013 Polity 224 Pages


In Early Modern Europe the first readers of a book were not those who bought it. They were the scribes who copied the author’s or translator’s manuscript, the censors who licensed it, the publisher who decided to put this title in his catalogue, the copy editor who prepared the text for the press, divided it and added punctuation, the typesetters who composed the pages of the book, and the proof reader who corrected them. The author’s hand cannot be separated from the printers’ mind.

This book is devoted to the process of publication of the works that framed their readers’ representations of the past or of the world. Linking cultural history, textual criticism and bibliographical studies, dealing with canonical works - like Cervantes’ Don Quixote or Shakespeare’s plays - as well as lesser known texts, Roger Chartier identifies the fundamental discontinuities that transformed the circulation of the written word between the invention of printing and the definition, three centuries later, of what we call 'literature'.
Part I: The Past in the Present
1. Listen to the Dead with Your Eyes
2. History: Reading Time
3. History and Social Science: A Return to Braudel
Part II: What is a Book?
4. The Powers of Print
5. The Author’s Hand
6. Pauses and Pitches
7. Translation
Part III: Texts and Meanings
8. Memory and Writing
9. Paratext and Preliminaries
10. Publishing Cervantes
11. Publishing Shakespeare
12. The Time of the Work

'In these essays on the linguistic, typographical, social and cultural contexts of works by Shakespeare and Cervantes (among others), Roger Chartier shows once again his remarkable gifts for close reading, original observations, and the judicious and fruitful use of sociocultural theory.'
Peter Burke, University of Cambridge

'These brilliant essays, by the world's foremost historian of the book, are an essential guide to the textual labyrinth in which we find ourselves, a perplexing maze in which manuscripts, printed books, and digital media vie for attention. By looking with singular learning and insight at early modern texts -- above all, works by Shakespeare and Cervantes -- Chartier enables us to understand not only the written traces that have been left by the past but also the traces that we will leave for the future.'
Stephen Greenblatt, Harvard University

"Chartier’s essays provide an impressive model for just such a rigorous and sophisticated investigation of the reading and writing habits of the past..."
Andrew G. Bonnell, University of Queensland

  • This is a major new work from one of the world’s leading historians of print culture and the book.
  • Chartier shows that, in the early history of the book, the roles played by the printer and the typesetter were just as important as the role played by the author: they were often invisible but they were crucial.
  • He draws on a wide range of examples such as Don Quixote and the works of Shakespeare.
  • This will appeal to anyone interested in the history of the book and of literature.