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Are Scrolls Books?
- To: Multiple recipients of list BOOK_ARTS-L <BOOK_ARTS-L@LISTSERV.SYR.EDU>
- Subject: Are Scrolls Books?
- From: Ed Hutchins <QUEERBOOKS@AOL.COM>
- Date: Sat, 5 Oct 1996 13:34:40 -0400
- Message-Id: <199610051734.KAA19302@SUL-Server-2.Stanford.EDU>
- Sender: "The Book Arts: binding, typography, collecting" <BOOK_ARTS-L@LISTSERV.SYR.EDU>
Philip said that "The term (Bookness) should not strictly speaking include
pre-codex carriers of text such as the scroll...."
Poor scrolls. They are always getting shabby treatment when it comes to
defining and discussing books. They remind me of the hard-working spouse
that gets cast aside for a much-younger, trimmer model. Where would codexs
be without scrolls??!!
I am always surprised when people are quick to see bookness in a wide variety
of book structures, even concertina books, but fail to see much of it in
scrolls. After all, a concertina book is just a scroll that has been folded
instead of rolled. Do folds make the book?
Scrolls were books, long before anyone thought about codexs. For the
librarians in ancient Alexandria who daily took scrolls off the shelf and
then replaced them, they were books. The "books" that were chosen to become
the Bible were scrolls, not codexs. The Torah always has been and always
will be a scroll. In 350 A.D. there were 28 public libraries in Rome and all
they had were scrolls. The first publisher whose name we know, Atticus,
published Cicero's books and many others as scrolls.
There is a letter from Cicero to Atticus asking the publisher to correct a
mistake that the author had made before the books were sent out. Some
problems, even the codex couldn't correct!
The information contained in scrolls did not run the entire lengh. Instead,
it was divided into columns or "pages". Aside from convience, whether pages
are strung out the lengh of a scroll, folded back and forth into a
concertina, or cut apart for a codex, it seems to me that they serve pretty
much the same purpose.
Aside from being easier to use, what qualities of bookness does a codex have
that a scroll lacks?
Some people say that a scroll is a scoll and a book is a codex. I think it
is more accurate to say that a scroll is a scroll, a codex is a codex, and
they both have a lot of bookness to them.