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Bibliophobia Brian Cummings (Anniversary Professor, University of York and Fellow of the British Academy)

Bibliophobia By Brian Cummings (Anniversary Professor, University of York and Fellow of the British Academy)

Summary

Richly illustrated with manuscripts, printed objects, and art works, Bibliophobia tells a 5000-year history of writing and of books to give readers a fascinating account of why books matter and how they impact on our lives.

Bibliophobia Summary

Bibliophobia: The End and the Beginning of the Book by Brian Cummings (Anniversary Professor, University of York and Fellow of the British Academy)

Bibliophobia is a book about material books, how they are cared for, and how they are damaged, throughout the 5000-year history of writing from Sumeria to the smartphone. Its starting point is the contemporary idea of 'the death of the book' implied by the replacement of physical books by digital media, with accompanying twenty-first-century experiences of paranoia and literary apocalypse. It traces a twin fear of omniscience and oblivion back to the origins of writing in ancient Babylon and Egypt, then forwards to the age of Google. It uncovers bibliophobia from the first Chinese emperor to Nazi Germany, alongside parallel stories of bibliomania and bibliolatry in world religions and literatures. Books imply cognitive content embodied in physical form, in which the body cooperates with the brain. At its heart this relationship of body and mind, or letter and spirit, always retains a mystery. Religions are founded on holy books, which are also sites of transgression, so that writing is simultaneously sacred and profane. In secular societies these complex feelings are transferred to concepts of ideology and toleration. In the ambiguous future of the internet, digital immateriality threatens human equilibrium once again. Bibliophobia is a global history, covering six continents and seven religions, describing written examples from each of the last thirty centuries (and several earlier). It discusses topics such as the origins of different kinds of human script; the development of textual media such as scrolls, codices, printed books, and artificial intelligence; the collection and destruction of libraries; the use of books as holy relics, talismans, or shrines; and the place of literacy in the history of slavery, heresy, blasphemy, censorship, and persecution. It proposes a theory of writing, how it relates to speech, images, and information, or to concepts of mimesis, personhood, and politics. Originating as the Clarendon Lectures in the Faculty of English at the University of Oxford, the methods of Bibliophobia range across book history; comparative religion; philosophy from Plato to Hegel and Freud; and a range of global literature from ancient to contemporary. Richly illustrated with textual forms, material objects, and art works, its inspiration is the power that books always (and continue to) have in the emotional, spiritual, bodily, and imaginative lives of readers.

About Brian Cummings (Anniversary Professor, University of York and Fellow of the British Academy)

Brian Cummings is Anniversary Professor at the University of York. Before arriving at York, he was Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, and then Professor of English at the University of Sussex. He has held visiting fellowships at Ludwig-Maximilians Universitat, Munich; the University of Toronto; and the Folger Library in Washington D.C. In 2012, he gave the Clarendon Lectures at Oxford University; in 2013, the Margaret Mann Phillips Plenary Lecture at the Renaissance Society of America; he has also given the British Academy annual Shakespeare Lecture and the Shakespeare Birthday Lecture in Washington D.C. He is a Fellow of the British Academy and a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries.

Table of Contents

Preface Note on Texts I. DEATH OF THE BOOK 1: Is there a future for the book? 2: The library as computer 3: The message of Ashurbanipal from antiquity 4: Living in the Tower of Babel II. BOOKS AND VIOLENCE 5: The book-fires of 1933 6: The making and unmaking of libraries 7: Incombustible heresy in the age of Luther 8: The bondage of the book III. SACRED TEXT 9: The mystery of Arabic script 10: The unnameable Hebrew God 11: How the alphabet came to Greece from Africa 12: The characters of Chinese IV. THE CULT OF THE BOOK 13: Words and images 14: Kissing the book 15: Books under the razor 16: Shakespeare and bibliofetishism V. THE BODY AND THE BOOK 17: The book incarnate 18: The hand in the history of the book 19: Written on the flesh 20: Book burial VI. GHOST IN THE BOOK 21: The book after the French Revolution 22: The smartphone inside our heads 23: Heresy and modernity 24: Glyph Notes Bibliography

Additional information

NPB9780192847317
9780192847317
0192847317
Bibliophobia: The End and the Beginning of the Book by Brian Cummings (Anniversary Professor, University of York and Fellow of the British Academy)
New
Hardback
Oxford University Press
2022-02-10
592
N/A
Book picture is for illustrative purposes only, actual binding, cover or edition may vary.
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