Sunday Book-Thought 81

The more immediate and more material manifestation of the assignation of discourses to an author lies in the unity between a work and an object, between a textual unit and a codicological unit. This was long not true of works in the vulgar tongue. The dominant form of the manuscript book was, in fact, that of the notarial register or, in Italy, the libro-zibaldone. Such unadorned, small or medium-sized books, written in a cursive hand, were copied by their own readers, who put in them, in no apparent order, texts of quite different sorts in prose and in verse, devotional and technical, documentary and poetic. These compilations, produced by lay people unfamiliar with the traditional institutions of manuscript production and for whom the act of copying was a necessary preliminary to reading, characteristically show no sign of the author-function. The unity of such a book comes from the fact that is producer is also its addressee.
Roger ChartierThe Order of Books: Readers, Authors, and Libraries in Europe between the Fourteenth and Eighteenth Centuries, trans by Lydia G. Cochrane (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1994), pp. 55-56.

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