The Myth of Print Cultureis a critique of bibliographical and editorial method, focusing on the disparity between levels of material evidence (unique and singular) and levels of text (abstract and reproducible). It demonstrates how the particulars of evidence are manipulated in standard scholarly arguments by the higher levels of textuality they are intended to support.
The individual studies in the book focus on a range of problems: basic definitions of what a book is; statistical assumptions; and editorial methods used to define and collate the presumably basic unit of 'variant.' This work differs from other recent studies in print culture in its emphasis on fifteenth-century books and its insistence that the problems encountered in that historical milieu (problems as basic as cataloguing errors) are the same as problems encountered in other areas of literary criticism. The difficulties in the simplest of cataloguing decisions, argues Joseph Dane, tend to repeat themselves at all levels of bibliographical, editorial, and literary history.
Subjects: Language & Literature
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