"Art does not reproduce the visible but makes visible", wrote Paul Klee. This work examines and reinterprets this important principle writing does not reproduce speech, it makes it visible through an in-depth history of writing across the globe, from ancient civilization to the modern day.
A History of Writing analyzes the role of the image in writing from three perspectives:
In total, fifty-eight lavishly illustrated chapters present detailed yet accessible commentaries from a team of leading specialists in the study of writing. Together they explain and clarify the birth, evolution, and dissemination of over thirty key scripts and alphabets and their numerous
derivatives. The breadth and scope of material covered, along with the detailed sources of documentation provided, make A History of Writing an essential and exciting new contribution to existing scholarship on this fascinating subject.
- Part one is devoted to the oldest, non-alphabetic methods of writing, and to the ingenious developments devised by civilizations that chose to adapt them to their language and culture: from the ancient development of cuneiform script in southern Mesopotamia, to the intricate ideographic scripts of China and Japan, or the still-to-be-deciphered rongo-rongo script of Easter Island.
- Part two focuses on the history and dissemination of alphabets, examining the origins of the Western Semitic alphabet and its "sister" Arabic script, through to the lesser-known scripts of the Caucasus or of sub-Saharan Africa.
- Part three, finally, examines the reincorporation of imagery into the Western alphabet, looking at various hand-written and printed forms, from the sumptuous illuminations of the Book of Kells to the rise of printing and of typographic forms in modern times, leading to questions over how different writing systems are now adapting in a world that is increasingly dominated by computer technology.
About the author:
Anne-Marie Christin teaches at the Université de Paris VII where she founded the Center for the Study of Writing. She has edited numerous volumes on writing.
Contributors to this book:
Michel Amandry, Jacques André, Pierre-Marc de Biasi, Catherine Bizot, François Bizot, Daniel Bouchez, Jean Boulegue, Dominique Briquet, Claire Bustarret, Nina Catach, Dominique Charpin, Roger Chartier, Anne-Marie Christin, Cécile Dauphin, Michel Davoust, François Déroche François-Xavier Dillmann, Catherine Dobias-Lalou, Jean-Pierre Drège, Jean-Marie Durand, Béatrice Fraenkel, Pascal Griolet, Michaël Guichard, Bertrand Hirsch, Yves Jeanneret, Pierre-Yves Lambert, Danièle Lavallée, André Lemaire, Ségolène Le Men, François Lissarrague, Jean-Pierre Mahé, Henri-Jean Martin, Charles Mopsik, Nguyen Phu Phong, Jean-Pierre Olivier, Jennifer O'Reilly, Michel Parisse, Armando Petrucci, Jacqueline Pigeot, Georges-Jean Pinault, René Ponot, Annie Renonciat, Daniel Roche, Cécile Sakai, Marianne Simon-Oikawa, Martine Simonin, Darwin Smith, Emmanuel Souchier, Jacqueline Sublet, Marc Thouvenot, Léon Vandermeersch, Pascal Vernus, and Vladimir Vodoff
Originally published in 2001 as Histoirie de I’écruiture: De l’idéogramme au multimedia
1st English language edition, 2002, hardback, 404pp, 58 lavishly illustrated chapters, 25 x 28.7 cm