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Technologies of Writing in the Age of Print
The Emergence of the Hybrid Book

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The Emergence of the Hybrid Book



What happens when print and manuscript traditions collide? The first printed books emulated medieval manuscripts. Within a hundred years of the invention of the printing press, however, manuscripts began to adopt certain features of printed books, and the distinctions became less clear. Manuscript copies were made of printed books, printed books had manuscript additions, manuscripts had title pages, as in printed books, or had printed texts and engravings pasted into them.

 

(top right) A fad among German university students in the 1560s, alba amicorum, or "books of friends," were precursors to modern autograph albums. During their travels, students collected signatures, quotations, and dedications of friends and teachers in finely-bound blank books, sometimes commissioning artists to add illustrations. Here a student has used blank verso leaves of a copy of Ovid’s Metamorphoses (1563) for his album, transforming the book into a personal document where friends’ manuscript entries interact with printed images and verses on the facing pages.

 

The “imprint” on the title page of the manuscript at the bottom right states that it was printed in Oxford in 1653. Like many printed books, it contains a letter to the reader and dedicatory epistles to patrons (although two out of the three dedicatees had died by 1653). The verses to the author are titled "To Mr. William Basse upon the now publishing of his poems." All evidence points to this manuscript being printed, yet it never was. Did the author die before it reached the printer, or was he envisioning The Pastorals as a manuscript publication?

 

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Johann Ulrich Hocklin. Album amicorum. Manuscript, 1564



William Basse. The pastorals and other works of William Basse. Manuscript, 1653





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