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Inky Fingers

Inky Fingers

The Making of Books in Early Modern Europe

Anthony Grafton

ISBN 9780674237179

Publication date: 06/09/2020

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An Open Letters Review Best Book of the Year

The author of The Footnote reflects on scribes, scholars, and the work of publishing during the golden age of the book.

From Francis Bacon to Barack Obama, thinkers and political leaders have denounced humanists as obsessively bookish and allergic to labor. In this celebration of bookmaking in all its messy and intricate detail, renowned historian Anthony Grafton invites us to see the scholars of early modern Europe as diligent workers. Meticulously illuminating the physical and mental labors that fostered the golden age of the book—the compiling of notebooks, copying and correction of texts and proofs, preparation of copy—he shows us how the exertions of scholars shaped influential books, treatises, and forgeries.

Inky Fingers ranges widely, tracing the transformation of humanistic approaches to texts in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and examining the simultaneously sustaining and constraining effects of theological polemics on sixteenth-century scholars. Grafton draws new connections between humanistic traditions and intellectual innovations, textual learning and craft knowledge, manuscript and print.

Above all, Grafton makes clear that the nitty-gritty of bookmaking has had a profound impact on the history of ideas—that the life of the mind depends on the work of the hands.

Praise

  • Grafton describes magnificent achievements, storms of controversy, and sometimes the pure devilment of scholars and printers, from the 15th to the early 17th centuries…Captivating and often amusing.

    —Wall Street Journal

Author

  • Anthony Grafton is the author of The Footnote, Defenders of the Text, Forgers and Critics, and Inky Fingers, among other books. The Henry Putnam University Professor of History and the Humanities at Princeton University, he writes regularly for the New York Review of Books.

Book Details

  • 392 pages
  • 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
  • Belknap Press

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