Like the printing press, typewriter, and computer, paper has been a crucial agent for the dissemination of information. This engaging book presents an important new chapter in paper’s history: how its use in Islamic lands during the Middle Ages influenced almost every aspect of medieval life. Focusing on the spread of paper from the early eighth century, when Muslims in WeLike the printing press, typewriter, and computer, paper has been a crucial agent for the dissemination of information. This engaging book presents an important new chapter in paper’s history: how its use in Islamic lands during the Middle Ages influenced almost every aspect of medieval life. Focusing on the spread of paper from the early eighth century, when Muslims in West Asia acquired Chinese knowledge of paper and papermaking, to five centuries later, when they transmitted this knowledge to Christians in Spain and Sicily, the book reveals how paper utterly transformed the passing of knowledge and served as a bridge between cultures.Jonathan Bloom traces the earliest history of paper—how it was invented in China over 2,000 years ago, how it entered the Islamic lands of West Asia and North Africa, and how it spread to northern Europe. He explores the impact of paper on the development of writing, books, mathematics, music, art, architecture, and even cooking. And he discusses why Europe was so quick to adopt paper from the Islamic lands and why the Islamic lands were so slow to accept printing in return. Together the beautifully written text and delightful illustrations (of papermaking techniques and the many uses to which paper was put) give new luster and importance to a now-humble material....
|Title||:||Paper Before Print: The History and Impact of Paper in the Islamic World|
|Number of Pages||:||320 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
|Last checked||:||21 Minutes ago!|
Paper Before Print: The History and Impact of Paper in the Islamic World Reviews
First thing first. Despite the title, the book actually talks about history of paper (and its predecessors) from ancient Egypt up to around Gutenberg's printing press. The thing is, of course, there was long period of Muslim dominance in between, thus it was reflected in Paper Before Print.This is a book dealing with history of information and -- by extension -- history of science as well. Bloom masterfully connects the development of writing medium, from baked clay and papyrus, to rise of paper in China, how it matured in the Muslim lands, and eventually reached Europe. Adequate historical background is given with (admittedly barebone) geopolitical context as well.One thing I like is how Bloom generously provides details of papermaking. Who knew that Chinese paper was different from Japanese, and Islamic Central Asia's was still even more different? Well, I didn't. He also explains how ancient people manufactured paper's predecessor, papyrus and parchment, and why they eventually lost out to paper. (Has to do with economic consideration)Bloom also goes deep detailing cultural effect of paper during heyday of Islamic civilization. Paper's cheapness (relative to papyrus) helped more efficient record-keeping for administrative and trading purposes. He also contends that paper helped the rise of scribal culture in Arabia, which in turn stimulated Islam's literary and intellectual output. One that should also be mentioned is the rise of cartography, where Muslim scholars followed footsteps of the Ancient Greeks, creating their own terrestrial and celestial maps -- including the famous Al-Sufi starmap.Last few chapters discuss the transfer of papermaking to Europe and its impact, including rise of printing press. This serves as closure to the tome.In the end, a great book, with plenty of helpful sidebars. Perhaps fitting if I close with its final paragraph, which neatly sums it all:The importance of printing in the great transformation of European civilization is undeniable, but paper, the material that Islamic civilization carried from China to Europe, was an even greater invention in the history of humankind. Cheaper writing materials not only made old learning more accessible but also encouraged new learning and initiated new ways of thinking and representing thought. As Alfred von Kremer realized more than a century ago and as we are only now coming to understand, the "blossoming of mental activity" made possible by paper "started a new era of civilization."
As an outsider to the early Islamic world, I learned a lot about the role of paper in Central Asia, Iran, the Middle East, North Africa, and the Mediterranean in the 700-1400 CE range. First and last chapters do a lot of historiographic work fixing the parameters of the study firmly between the The World After Writing, the Mediterranean World Before Parchment, China After Paper but Before Print and Book, Europe After Book on Parchment, and Europe During Print. The chapter on Koran recitation, writing, and adornment was valuable to me as a religious studies guy. Lots of wonderful sidebars about developments and changes in paper-making technologies. A terrific survey, useful bibliographic essay, and amazing pictures too.It's nice feeling, watching Gutenberg get rightfully provincialized.What do specialists think?
An excellent book that can fit into Marshall Hodgson's broader arguments both about the achievements and importance of the Islamicate world as well as how the "great Western Transmutation" lead to western dominance in the Islamicate world.
A beautiful book filled with detailed information from history, paper-making techniques, books, sciences and literature and other relevant topics.