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New Left Review 103, January-February 2017

carlos spoerhase


Has the book died at last? In recent years, literary and cultural critics have often debated the crisis of the codex as a cultural form: the bundle of sheets of paper or other suitable material fixed along one edge as a means of storing and retrieving written or printed text, which superseded the scroll as the main form of the book in the last centuries of Mediterranean Antiquity. The main question in this debate has been whether the physical book will soon be replaced by digital media, put out of circulation by its electronic counterparts. However, a pan-European retrospect of theories of the book in the interwar period shows up the narrow technicism of this discussion, in particular returning us to a fundamental question: whether the book has not been superseded by other print media, and this on strictly aesthetic terms concerning the understanding and realization of its material characteristics and their possibilities.

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Carlos Spoerhase, ‘Beyond the Book’, NLR 103: £3

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