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[BKARTS] book history



In a message dated 12/11/02 12:02:43 AM Eastern Standard Time,
LISTSERV@LISTSERV.SYR.EDU writes:


> Date:    Tue, 10 Dec 2002 09:06:02 -0500
> From:    Dorothy Africa <africa@LAW.HARVARD.EDU>
> Subject: Re: coptic question and book history
>
>      The technical discussion of  book structures is essential to dispell
> such
> errant popular notions as the predication of the structure of the codex on
> that
> of the wax tablet. (As some on the list have already pointed out, however,
> the
> advantages of the hinged tablet format are shared by the codex and may have
> fostered its popularity.)   As Clarkson and any number of other binders have
> pointed out, ... , there is no evident mechanical evolutionary path in
> evidence there.  It does not go scroll, tablet, codex in a sequential line.
>  All of these formats were known, and used in the late Antique period.
> They are concommitant, not sequential, likewise papyrus and vellum.

I don't have anything like the expertise in book history of so many people on
this list, but I have been following this thread with interest, and it
reminded me of an excellent web site on Chinese book history put together as
part of the International Dunghuang Project based at the British Library.  It
can be found at <
http://idp.bl.uk/chapters/topics/bookbinding/CHOOSER-FRAMESET.html>

As I understand it, Chinese book structures developed apart from Western ones
and, clearly, were not affected by whatever happened with papyrus and vellum
in the West.  It seems that the Chinese did not evolve from scrolls to a
codex-like form sequentially either.  (I'm calling a Chinese book with pages
bound at the spine as codex-like because I'm not sure if it is properly
called a codex.  What I'm trying to convey is the modern form that is
comparable to the Western codex. As I said, I'm not the expert you all are.)
In China, book structures with pages (including pothi, butterfly books, and
whirlwind books) were used at the same time as scrolls.
In China, too, there does not seem to have been a neat sequential transition
from the scroll to the codex.

Perhaps, for the ancients, things were similar to what they are for people
making books today.  I.e., the choice of structure and materials is
determined by what structure seems most appropriate for the content of the
book, as well as by what materials are known, available, affordable, and
appealing to the book maker at the time.

Sally Canzoneri

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