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Kimberly Johnson. Made Flesh: Sacrament and Poetics in Post-Reformation England

Kimberly Johnson. Made Flesh: Sacrament and Poetics in Post-Reformation England. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014. 248p., ill. ISBN 9780812245882. US $59.95 (hardcover).

Kimberly Johnson’s Made Flesh makes clear the goal of her work in its striking and direct opening sentence: “This is a book about how poems work, and about how the interpretive demands of sacramental worship inform the production of poetic texts” (1). Johnson sets her project apart from other critical texts on post-Reformation sacramental poetics, which aimed to do this very thing, but failed, as Johnson posits, to truly engage “the way poems work as literary artifacts” (1).

Karin Schutjer. Goethe and Judaism: The Troubled Inheritance of Modern Literature

Karin Schutjer. Goethe and Judaism: The Troubled Inheritance of Modern Literature. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 2015. 245p. ISBN 9780810131668. $34.95 (paperback).

In this book Karin Schutjer offers a comprehensive analysis of Goethe’s approach to Judaism. The monograph is divided into five chapters that assess the author’s life-long interest in the religion and demonstrate the impact Jewish religious and intellectual culture had on Goethe’s own artistic development. The overall intention is to map Goethe’s treatment of Judaism onto his life, firstly onto his autobiography, then onto the evolution of his thought from the 1770s until his death in 1832.

James Daybell and Andrew Gordon, eds. Cultures of Correspondence in Early Modern Britain

James Daybell and Andrew Gordon, eds. Cultures of Correspondence in Early Modern Britain. Philadelphia: University of Philadelphia Press, 2016. x., 336p. 36 ill. ISBN 9780812248258. USD 69.95 (hardcover).

In this exemplary collection of essays, James Daybell and Andrew Gordon provide an astute, comprehensive, and intellectually stimulating view on the early modern culture of correspondence. As the authors clarify in the introduction, “a fundamental aim of the book is the reconstruction of the material conditions and practices of the early modern letter” (8), which includes close readings of its content, careful analyses of its materiality, attention to its carrier networks, consideration of the relationships between writers and recipients, and explorations of the early modern letter’s classification and archival practices.

John Carter’s ABC for Book Collectors, revised and enlarged by Nicolas Barker and Simran Thadani

John Carter’s ABC for Book Collectors, revised and enlarged by Nicolas Barker and Simran Thadani, 9th edition. New Castle, DE: Oak Knoll Press, 2016. 264p., 32 illus. (22 colour and 10 halftones). ISBN 9781584563525. US $29.95 (hardcover).

John Carter’s ABC for Book Collectors is without question a book that all serious book historians must read and a book that almost everyone with a genuine interest in books should own. It typically sits nicely on our reference shelves with such staple volumes that remain in the affordable range for all book-aficionados and bibliophiles as Philip Gaskell’s A New Introduction to Bibliography (1972, latest 1995), Fredson Bowers’s Principles of Bibliographical Description (1949, latest 2012), and one or more generalist or specialist study, such as D. C. Greetham’s Textual Scholarship: An Introduction (1992) or David Pearson’s Provenance Research in Book History: A Handbook (1994). Probably, the very serious book historian will own more than one edition of the Carter, as early prints are to be had very easily at book fairs, even at a price agreeable to those of us “poor scholars” (Alan Thomas’s turn of phrase, 86) on a modest income.

Paul Valkema Blouw. Dutch Typography in the Sixteenth Century: The Collected Works of Paul Valkema Blouw

Paul Valkema Blouw. Dutch Typography in the Sixteenth Century: The Collected Works of Paul Valkema Blouw. Edited by Ton Croiset van Uchelen and Paul Dijstelberge. (Library of the Written Word 18; The Handpress World 12.) Leiden, Boston: Brill, 2013. xxii, 996p., ill. ISBN 9789004256545; ISSN 1874-834. US $353.00 (hardback).

“Bibliographical analysis can lead to results which range well beyond its original objective: the history of the book as a printed text and as the object of the book trade. […] It seems to me of some importance that this possibility should be more widely appreciated.” (113) With these words Paul Valkema Blouw (1916-2000), bibliographer, antiquarian book dealer and book historian, concluded a paper about a small Frisian chronicle in 1984. Working alone in the pre-digital age, using his meticulous analytical mind combined with a rare sensibility to the subtleties of sixteenth-century type design, he composed the Dutch national bibliography of books printed in the Northern Netherlands between 1540 and 1600.

Matthew Rubery. The Untold Story of the Talking Book

Matthew Rubery. The Untold Story of the Talking Book. Cambridge, MA; London, England: Harvard University Press, 2016. 369p., 39 halftones. ISBN 9780674545441. US $29.95 (hardcover).

Matthew Rubery’s latest monograph, The Untold Story of the Talking Book, is an item of both an exceptionally original thesis and impressively wide-ranging archival and scholarly research. One need not look far to see that in a short time it has achieved an impressive and positive reception from numerous high-ranking journals that have praised its wide scope of merits (here).

Lucie Storchová. Bohemian School Humanism and Its Editorial Practices (ca. 1550-1610)

Lucie Storchová. Bohemian School Humanism and Its Editorial Practices (ca. 1550-1610). Europa Humanistica: Collection Publiée par l’Institut de Recherche et d’Histoire des Textes; Bohemia and Moravia 2. Turnhout: Brepols, 2014. 369p., ill. ISBN 9782503551807. EUR 75.00 (hardback).

Besides a brief introduction in which Lucie Storchová explains her methodology and the volume’s origins, the text contains three chapters. The first of these gives a detailed description of Bohemian humanism practised in the University of Prague and in the town schools under its control during the second half of the sixteenth century and the first decade of the next.

Vanessa Guignery, ed. Crossed Correspondences: Writers as Readers and Critics of their Peers

Vanessa Guignery, ed. Crossed Correspondences: Writers as Readers and Critics of their Peers. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2016. 285p. ISBN 9781443886994. GBP £47.99 (hardcover).

This bilingual volume contains essays about a specific kind of correspondence between writers. A wide range of authors working in French and English is represented here – from Gabriel Harvey and Edmund Spenser to Paul Auster and J. M. Coetzee – but the essays come together in exploring what the volume’s editor, Vanessa Guignery, describes as “private literary criticism” passed between writers.

Meg Boulton, Jane Hawkes, and Melissa Herman, eds. The Art, Literature and Material Culture of the Medieval World: Transition, Transformation and Taxonomy

Meg Boulton, Jane Hawkes, and Melissa Herman, eds. The Art, Literature and Material Culture of the Medieval World: Transition, Transformation and Taxonomy. Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2015. xiii, 334p., ill. ISBN 9781846825613. £65.00 (hardcover).

This collected volume brings together 19 essays and explorations of cultural expressions in the medieval world. Its material presentation is enhanced by a beautiful design and numerous black-and-white and full-color images that support each chapter. From a purely aesthetic perspective, the book is both breathtaking and immediately appealing.

Echoing the subtitle of the book, the essays in the book are tied together by their focused discussion on transitions, transformations, and taxonomies of the Middle Ages.

Tara Andrews and Caroline Macé, eds. Analysis of Ancient and Medieval Texts and Manuscripts: Digital Approaches

Tara Andrews and Caroline Macé, eds. Analysis of Ancient and Medieval Texts and Manuscripts: Digital Approaches. Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 2014. 346 p., 27 b/w and 51 col. ill. ISBN: 9782503552682. €97.00 (hardcover).

For many, the detailed study of ancient and medieval manuscripts may evoke images of a sort of textual archeologist working alone in a painstaking effort to unearth and dust-off forgotten texts. During the earliest days of formalized modern manuscript studies in the nineteenth century, this picture might have been apt as collectors, enthusiasts, and scholars mined caches of manuscripts across Europe and the Near East in a race to discover and recover ancient and medieval texts. As the field evolved in the twentieth century, scholars shifted their focus to the application of a range of critical theoretical approaches to the countless texts their predecessors had made available.