Quill, Wax, Knife

Adam Smyth

  • BuyMr Collier’s Letter Racks: A Tale of Art & Illusion at the Threshold of the Modern Information Age by Dror Wahrman
    Oxford, 275 pp, £22.95, November 2012, ISBN 978 0 19 973886 1

‘This Booke,’ Leonard Digges claimed in a preface to Shakespeare’s First Folio, ‘When Brasse and Marble fade, shall make thee looke/Fresh to all Ages.’ If we take the First Folio as our biggest bibliographical landmark, the history of early modern print looks like a journey towards material permanence: towards the production of books that had the power to endure through time, and to ‘redeeme’ their authors ‘from thy Herse’. ‘Thou … art alive still,’ Jonson wrote to the dead Shakespeare in a characteristically conditional bit of praise, ‘while thy Booke doth live.’

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