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.

Laying Out Layout

I’m not usually big on book and essay reviews, but I’ll make an exception for M.B. Parkes. His paper – “The Influence of the Concepts of Ordinatio and Compilatio on the Development of the Book” – has come up in a couple of my classes, and every time I read it I learn something new. If you want to read the paper for yourself, it comprises the third chapter of Parkes’ book called Scribes, Scripts, and Readers: Studies in the Communication, Presentation, and Dissemination of Medieval TextsThe book is pretty well known among book historians, so head to the library and pick up a copy if you want to impress people. If you just want cocktail party material, though, read on! Continue reading “Laying Out Layout”