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Cavallo and Chartier, A History of Reading in the West. Cambridge UK: Polity Press, 2004.

This book provides an in depth history of reading practices from Classical Greece and Rome; the Middle Ages and Humanism; the Seventeenth and Eighteenth centuries; and on up to the present day. Each chapter, written by a different scholar, analyzes how reading changes over time.

Relevant Quotations:
“When alphabetic writing swept into Greek culture around the eighth century BC, it arrived in a world that had a long oral tradition. If the spoken word was present ‘in the beginning’, as the familiar phrase goes, it also wielded power. In archaic Greece the spoken word reigned uncontested, in particular as kleos (Renown) that the Homeric bards conferred on the epic heroes” (37).

“Despite their differences, pliegos, occasionnels, volumes in the Bibliotheque bleue and chapbooks all illustrate the validity of an approach that begins from print objects themselves and attempts to reconstitute, on the one hand, the types of texts that lent themselves to publication in those forms and, on the other, the readers (and reaging styles) that their publishers had in mind” (281).

Return to the History of Reading Bibliography.

  tl, 04.12.06

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