From Manuscript to Print: the Evolution of the Medieval Book


Cicero. Italy, 1521
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The Venetian printer Aldus Manutius (ca. 1452–1515) raised the standards of bookmaking and had a keen sense of what the reading public wanted. He strove to secure the best manuscripts for his editions, and he introduced portable copies in elegant humanistic fonts for the reader’s convenience and pleasure. The family business continued the tradition after his death, as is seen in this edition of Cicero’s rhetorical works, published by Aldus’s father-in-law, Andreas Torresani. In this edition, abbreviations are scarce; while they were useful for overworked scribes, they were no longer necessary when a book could be reproduced in a printing press. The clear Roman font and lack of abbreviation show how, by the first decades of the 16th century, printing was evolving beyond the manuscript model and transforming the appearance of the written word.

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Pseudo-Cicero. Rhetorica ad Herennium et al. Venice: Aldine Press, 1521.
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the Sacred Word
Private Prayer
Leather and Chains
Medieval Music
How the Classics Survived
Manuscripts in the Age of Print
Evolution of the Book
Appetite for Destruction
Manuscript Facsimiles
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