The Case For Books

While at the National Gallery taking in the Allen Ginsberg photography exhibit, I saw this collection of essays by Robert Darnton at the cash register of the gift shop. I bought Harris's book on The Arts at Black Mountain instead, but I wrote down the title so I could get it from the library.

I look forward to everything Darnton writes ever since I read his book on forbidden literature in pre-Revolutionary France. For those who don't know, Darnton parked himself in an archive of a Swiss book distributor operating in the pre-Revolutionary era and from this mass of material has shaped a coherent picture of all things bibliographic from that period in France.

The Case for Books is a collecton of essays ranging from the Google Project to a paean to paper and the necessity of electronic academic publishing to an essay on the importance of bibliography along with a reprinting of Darnton's landmark essay on the history of books. It is inspirational and exciting stuff.

I look to Darnton when I envision the future of scholarship on the Mimeo Revolution. Secret Location on the Lower East Side has opened the field, not it is time to sow and cultivate it with research into mimeo production, distribution, and reception in combination with the most cutting edge digital imaging and archiving and an attention to bibliographical detail that has long dominated the study of Shakespeare, pre-Revolutionary France and the Bible.



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