Palimpsest: A History of the Written Word

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 7/27/2015
  • Publisher: W W Norton & Co Inc

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Writing makes history possible, as it aims to sew together a continuous record of the past. Yet its own history is elusive. Born of the capacities for attention and invention bequeathed to us by evolution, it has continually revised and expanded human consciousness, our sense of self and of others. Writing's origins are framed in mythology as a gift from heroes or a curse from the gods. It has been used as an instrument of power and as a channel of the divine, as a means of social bonding and of individual self-definition. Now, as the revolution once wrought by the printed word gives way to an e-revolution, many fear that the art of writing-and the nuanced thinking nurtured by writing-are under threat. But writing itself, despite striving for durability, is always in the midst of growth and transfiguration. Change is the destination our letters ever are reaching.

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