The History And Power Of Writing

Paperback | October 15, 1995

byHenri-Jean Martin

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Cultural history on a grand scale, this immensely readable book—the summation of decades of study by one of the world's great scholars of the book—is the story of writing from its very beginnings to its recent transformations through technology.

Traversing four millennia, Martin offers a chronicle of writing as a cultural system, a means of communication, and a history of technologies. He shows how the written word originated, how it spread, and how it figured in the evolution of civilization. Using as his center the role of printing in making the written way of thinking dominant, Martin examines the interactions of individuals and cultures to produce new forms of "writing" in the many senses of authorship, language rendition, and script.

Martin looks at how much the development of writing owed to practical necessity, and how much to religious and social systems of symbols. He describes the precursors to writing and reveals their place in early civilization as mnemonic devices in service of the spoken word. The tenacity of the oral tradition plays a surprisingly important part in this story, Martin notes, and even as late as the eighteenth century educated individuals were trained in classical rhetoric and preferred to rely on the arts of memory. Finally, Martin discusses the changes to writing wrought by the electronic revolution, offering invaluable insights into the influence these new technologies have had on children born into the computer age.

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From Our Editors

"Part mosaic, part vortex, an elegant assembly of disparate pieces into which all of the past, and all of geography, seems to have been sucked". -- Nomi Eve, Voice Literary Supplement

From the Publisher

Cultural history on a grand scale, this immensely readable book—the summation of decades of study by one of the world's great scholars of the book—is the story of writing from its very beginnings to its recent transformations through technology.Traversing four millennia, Martin offers a chronicle of writing as a cultural system, a mean...

Format:PaperbackDimensions:608 pages, 9 × 6 × 1.5 inPublished:October 15, 1995Publisher:University Of Chicago Press

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0226508366

ISBN - 13:9780226508368

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

Foreword
Pierre Chaunu
Acknowledgments
1: Writing Systems
2: The Written and the Spoken Word
3: Speech and Letters
4: The Death and Resurrection of Written Culture
5: The Arrival of Print
6: The Reign of the Book
7: The Forms and Functions of Writing: Fifteenth-Eighteenth Centuries
8: The Book and Society
9: The Industrial Era
10: Beyond Writing
Conclusion
Notes
Index

From Our Editors

"Part mosaic, part vortex, an elegant assembly of disparate pieces into which all of the past, and all of geography, seems to have been sucked". -- Nomi Eve, Voice Literary Supplement