The Nature of the Book Print and Knowledge in the Making
Author: Adrian Johns
publisher: University of Chicago Press
publisher Date: 05/28/2000
Schools: Stony Brook University(SUNY)
Description: Because we live in a print culture, we take a lot about a book for granted: that it was written by the person named as author and published with the author's consent, that both author and publisher vouch for the information or knowledge it imparts, that it was produced in an edition of many identical copies and is available to whoever wants to buy and read it. In The Nature of the Book, a tour de force of cultural history, Adrian Johns transports his readers back to early modern England and the cauldron of creative and commercial forces in which print culture was formed. His uncanny eye for detail allows us to visit booksellers' shops and the Royal Society, paper manufactories and type foundries. We can eavesdrop on the often bitter disputes between authors and printers, printers and booksellers, clerics and intellectuals as they debate and resolve the meaning and rights attached to the creation of ideas, their appearance in written form and then in print, and the opportunity to sell, buy, and read printed work. Johns focuses on the interplay between the scientific and print revolutions and on their roles, both complementary and antagonistic, in the production and dissemination of knowledge. For while the advancement of knowledge depended on the accuracy and legitimacy of printed findings, print also could be--and sometimes was--used to manipulate those findings for political, religious, or ideological reasons.Johns constructs an entirely original and vivid picture of print culture and its many arenas--commercial, intellectual, political, and individual. The Nature of the Book broadsides all of our assumptions about what books were at the beginning of that culture.