Thursday, April 23, 2015

Gutenberg's Apprentice-Alix Christie

Gutenberg’s Apprentice-Alix Christie
the facts
satisfaction: up/side
pages: 416
gender: F
nationality: USA
year: 2014
A novelization of Gutenberg's workshop which places an emphasis on the complexity of Gutenberg rather than as an idealist, loner genius figure he is usually depicted as.

Gutenberg's printing press and the accompanying movable type are what we are told, over and over again, what makes modern books feasible. With good reason. As someone who has used the modern versions of the lead type presses and has a book making hobby, naturally I was drawn to this novel which did prove to give more dimension to the invention of the printing press than the lone genius narrative that so often dominates American historical narratives. There is minute attention given to the historical context. You do learn about the politics, the climate, and the apprentice system etc. Perhaps there was too much detail? I never would have guessed I'd fault a book for too much detail given to my favorite aspects of print making but here I am. It was just that it often felt like there was far too much attention given to what the characters did (a lot of arguments and bickering. loads!) and not enough to the inner life of them. Oh, they were excited that it was successful but that was qualified with almost whole chapters of complaining about each others' attitudes. Now, I work in a lab so I understand, the thrill of the hunt is usually bogged down by the daily grind at the side of people you're not sure you like but there is almost no introspection afforded here except towards the hypocrisy of Gutenberg. What a bunch of gossips!

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