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Pens and Heads

Blair Worden: Printing and reading, 24 August 2000

The Nature of the Book: Print and Knowledge in the Making 
by Adrian Johns.
Chicago, 707 pp., £14.50, May 2000, 0 226 40122 7
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Reading Revolutions: The Politics of Reading in Early Modern England 
by Kevin Sharpe.
Yale, 358 pp., £25, April 2000, 0 300 08152 9
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... culture’ and a ‘print culture’. These two long books are contributions to this movement. Adrian Johns’s is very long, for he has a great deal to cover. The Nature of the Book displays a breadth of insight and of learning astonishing in a work produced in early career. There is no mistaking its stature or importance. Yet the work is ...

A Glorious Thing

Julie Peters: Piracy, 4 November 2010

Piracy: The Intellectual Property Wars from Gutenberg to Gates 
by Adrian Johns.
Chicago, 626 pp., £24, February 2010, 978 0 226 40118 8
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... property was over. Makers of ideas would henceforth have to live on prestige alone. In Adrian Johns’s account, intellectual property rights have always been precarious. According to him, the concepts of intellectual property and intellectual piracy arose as delayed responses to the advent of printing and the development of a commercial book ...

Taking Flight

Thomas Jones: Blake Morrison, 7 September 2000

The Justification of Johann Gutenberg 
by Blake Morrison.
Chatto, 259 pp., £14.99, August 2000, 0 7011 6965 6
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... importance of the printing press (in The Nature of the Book, published earlier this year, Adrian Johns argues that the ‘printing revolution’ was the ‘retrospective creation’ of 18th-century historians of the press).Morrison’s Gutenberg isn’t even interesting, let alone sympathetic. He loses Ennelina, the love of his life, not because ...

At the Amsterdam

Steven Shapin: A Wakefull and Civill Drink, 20 April 2006

The Social Life of Coffee: The Emergence of the British Coffee House 
by Brian Cowan.
Yale, 364 pp., £25, January 2006, 0 300 10666 1
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Coffee House: A Cultural History 
by Markman Ellis.
Phoenix, 304 pp., £8.99, November 2005, 0 7538 1898 1
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... in a public house of promiscuous, face-to-face talk and unregulated cheap print was explosive. As Adrian Johns has noted, ‘the alliance of coffee and print transformed authorship, communication and conversation.’ But precisely because coffee houses were places where people freely spoke their minds on matters that were supposed to be none of their ...

Rough Trade

Steven Shapin: Robert Hooke, 6 March 2003

The Man Who Knew Too Much: The Strange and Inventive Life of Robert Hooke 1635-1703 
by Stephen Inwood.
Macmillan, 497 pp., £18.99, September 2002, 0 333 78286 0
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... at once wholly natural and deeply problematic in Restoration scientific circles. As Rob Iliffe and Adrian Johns have shown, it was the norm for mechanics and tradesmen vigorously to contest intellectual property rights and to withhold secrets that might lead to financial gain: after all, their business was at stake. Mathematicians followed similar ...

The Tangible Page

Leah Price: Books as Things, 31 October 2002

The Book History Reader 
edited by David Finkelstein and Alistair McCleery.
Routledge, 390 pp., £17.99, November 2001, 0 415 22658 9
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Making Meaning: ‘Printers of the Mind’ and Other Essays 
by D.F. McKenzie, edited by Peter D. McDonald and Michael F. Suarez.
Massachusetts, 296 pp., £20.95, June 2002, 1 55849 336 0
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... the history of reading will experience flashes of self-recognition. Some book historians, like Adrian Johns writing on Renaissance scientific books or Ann Blair on early modern information overload, set out to trace a genealogy for present-day scholarly exchange; others, like Joan Rubin or Jonathan Rose, look outwards to the ‘common ...

Against Consciousness

Richard Gregory, 24 January 1980

by Jeffrey Gray.
Fontana, 140 pp., £1.25, September 1980, 9780006343042
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J.B. Watson: The Founder of Behaviourism 
by David Cohen.
Routledge, 297 pp., £8.95, September 1980, 0 7100 0054 5
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... his academic friends and colleagues deserted Watson in his hour of need, when he was kicked out of Johns Hopkins. Watson very largely dismissed philosophy, at least as an activity he could or wished to understand, so that the comparative lack of philosophical appreciation here (Ryle’s Concept of Mind is not mentioned) may be appropriate. And yet his ...


Tom Phillips, 2 April 1981

English Art and Modernism 1900-1939 
by Charles Harrison.
Allen Lane, 416 pp., £20, February 1981, 0 7139 0792 4
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... The pack thins and the stayers are revealed in the lead (Michael Andrews, Frank Auerbach and Adrian Berg, for example). With so many of the tedious political attitudes of the artists of the Sixties discredited, those who have been slow to slough them off (following Kitaj’s example once again) have found themselves disqualified. If this seems like ...

Not His Type

Frank Kermode, 5 September 1996

About Modern Art: Critical Essays 1948-96 
by David Sylvester.
Chatto, 448 pp., £25, June 1996, 0 7011 6268 6
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... and Poussin are my cup of tea.’ This may be a joke. He does cite with approval a remark of Adrian Stokes to the effect that ‘modern art, the art typical of our day, is the slang, so to speak, of art as a whole, standing in relation to the Old Masters as does slang to ordinary language,’ adding that Picasso’s last works are an apotheosis of that ...

The wind comes up out of nowhere

Charles Nicholl: The Disappearance of Arthur Cravan, 9 March 2006

... in a fictionalised memoir called You Gotta Live, published in 1932. In this, Cravan appears as Rex Johns and Loy as Rita. Brown writes of Rex’s ‘striking figure’, his ‘smooth manners and grace of being’, his charisma for women (‘what Rex Johns had, he had for women’) and his hybrid exoticism: ‘Educated in ...

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