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The matter of the page : essays in search of ancient and medieval authors

Author: Shane Butler
Publisher: Madison : University of Wisconsin Press, ©2011.
Series: Wisconsin studies in classics.
Edition/Format:   Print book : State or province government publication : EnglishView all editions and formats
Database:WorldCat
Summary:
Ancient and Medieval Literary Texts Often Call Attention to Their Existence as Physical Objects. Shane Butler Helps us to Understand Why. Arguing that Writing has Always been as Much a Material SStruggle as an Intellectual One, The Matter of the Page Offers Timely Lessons for the Digital Age About How Creativity works and Why Literature Moves us.
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Details

Genre/Form: Criticism, interpretation, etc
Material Type: Government publication, State or province government publication
Document Type: Book
All Authors / Contributors: Shane Butler
ISBN: 9780299248246 0299248240 9780299248239 0299248232
OCLC Number: 574970975
Description: x, 158 pages ; 23 cm.
Contents: The backward glance --
Myself sick --
Latin decomposition --
The erasable Cicero --
The surface of the page --
The folded page.
Series Title: Wisconsin studies in classics.
Responsibility: Shane Butler.

Abstract:

Ancient and Medieval Literary Texts Often Call Attention to Their Existence as Physical Objects. Shane Butler Helps us to Understand Why. Arguing that Writing has Always been as Much a Material SStruggle as an Intellectual One, The Matter of the Page Offers Timely Lessons for the Digital Age About How Creativity works and Why Literature Moves us.

Butler begins with some considerations about the materiality of the literary text, both as a process (the draft) and a product (the book), and he traces the curious history of "the page" from scroll to manuscript codex to printed book and beyond. He then offers a series of unforgettable portraits of authors at work: Thucydides struggling to describe his own diseased body; Vergil ready to burn an epic poem he could not finish; Lucretius wrestling with words even as he fights the madness that will drive him to suicide; Cicero mesmerized by the thought of erasing his entire career; Seneca plumbing the depths of the soul in the wax of his tablets; and Dhuoda, who sees the book she writes as a door, a tunnel, a womb. Butler reveals how the work of writing transformed each of these authors into his or her own first reader, and he explains what this metamorphosis teaches us about how we too should read. All Greek and Latin quotations are translated into English and technical matters are carefully explained for general readers, with scholarly details in the notes.

"A learned, moving essay in humane literary and cultural criticism. Brilliantly written, The Matter of the Page takes our own sense of reading and writing and relates it to the work of past writers and readers, showing in fascinatingly different ways how authors as diverse as Thucydides, Vergil, and Dhuoda transcended both their own mortality and the limits of material culture."--James Tatum, Dartmouth College.

"Innovative both stylistically and methodologically, Butler's outstanding book has the feel of a dual elegy--for the author, whom it seeks to resuscitate as more than an abstract theoretical concept, and for the vanishing (or at least de-materializing) page in an ever accelerating digital universe. The Matter of the Page should appeal broadly, from anyone interested in the history of the book to classicists, medievalists, and literary comparatists."--James I. Porter, University of California, Irvine --Book Jacket.

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This is both a playful and a serious book that opens many doors onto the texts it studies. Students of classical literature and of the history of the book should be glad for the openings. "Bryn Mawr Read more...

 
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