Souvenirs of the Fronde: Dr Bruno Tribout discusses the afterlives of the mazarinades

For its final seminar of 2015, on November 27th, the Centre for the History of the Book welcomed Dr Bruno Tribout to present “The mazarinades after Mazarin: literary memory and political criticism in the reign of Louis XIV.” The Fronde was a period of civil wars in France during which opposition from the princes, nobility, and the courts of Paris confronted the monarchy during the years 1648 to 1653. And the mazarinades appeared during these years of the Fronde as anti-government pamphlets that commonly attacked Cardinal Mazarin in particular. Cardinal Mazarin had been the Chief Minister for Louis XIII until the king’s death in 1642 and continued to wield influence alongside his widow Anne until Louis XIV’s ascension to the throne. The term for the pamphlets, clearly derived from the Cardinal’s name, was first popularized with Paul Scarron’s pamphlet of that title in 1651.

Une moitié de Paris imprime ou vend des imprimés; l’autre en consomme.

Half of Paris prints or sells pamphlets; the other consumes them.

 

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Iain Donaldson on the Legacy of the Early Printed Book to its Modern Descendants

On a particularly cold and rainy November the 13th, the Center for the History of the Book welcomed Professor Iain Donaldson from the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh to speak about the important features of the modern book that derived from the early printed books created before the end of the sixteenth century. By providing examples through books found in the Royal College of Physicians’ Library, Professor Donaldson argued that many of the elements we see today in modern publishing are direct, or close indirect, descendants from those first printed books. Although they may look very different now, the functionality and look of these elements remain relatively unchanged. Specifically, those that favor the accessibility of readers seem to survive today, while those intended for the printer’s use have dwindled away with the inventions of new technologies and processes.

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A Visit to the Royal College of Physicians

Officially founded on the 29th of November, 1681, Edinburgh’s Royal College of Physicians certainly warrants the epithet of ‘venerable’ and this is reflected in both the grandness of the buildings which house it and its worldwide reputation as a centre of medical education and research. One of the physicians who campaigned voraciously for the institution to be founded, Sir Robert Sibbald, was also involved with the inauguration of the city’s Royal Botanic Garden and this link between the worlds of botany and medicine is continued through the small Physic Garden which can be seen in the College’s central courtyard. Designed by Thomas Hamilton and ready for occupation in 1846, the College’s main building is one of great distinction, acting unmistakably as an architectural signifier of the wealth of knowledge and tradition contained behind its doors.

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Simon Rowberry on ‘A Historiography of the Ebook’

This Friday lunchtime, the Centre for the History of the Book welcomed Dr Simon Rowberry, lecturer in Digital Media & Publishing at the University of Stirling, to give a lecture entitled ‘A Historiography of the Ebook’. As a printed book enthusiast, I came to this CHB seminar as someone who is fairly sceptical about e-readers. I’ve never read a book on a Kindle, never read a newspaper on my smartphone, and definitely never dared touch an iPad (too scared I’d break it). As a result, I didn’t know what to expect from such an intriguing lecture title; the relatively new term ‘ebook’ seems almost out of place next to the grandiose, scholarly pursuit of ‘historiography’. However, over the course of the lecture Dr Rowberry gave us an absorbing insight into the historical origins, development, and controversies surrounding ebooks and e-readers and their implications upon contemporary reading practices.

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The Future of Bookselling in Edinburgh

October 16th witnessed a special event at the Centre for the History of the Book: a round table discussion including representatives from three different Edinburgh bookshops.

Chaired by Katherine Inglis, Chancellor’s Fellow, the initial participant to be introduced was Blackwell’s, the city’s biggest (academic) bookseller. Ann Landmann, the company’s Events Manager, kindly started off by introducing ‘her’ bookshop, highlighting the store’s 150 year history, during which it also served as the original premises of James Thin’s.

Marie Moser owns the smaller and independent Edinburgh Bookshop, which focuses on an “unusual, intelligent and topical selections of titles”. Being situated outside the city centre, this bookshop has succeeded in becoming an active part of the local community, for which it has been recognised with several awards.

Finally, Derek Walker from McNaughtan’s Bookshop and Gallery was introduced. Quite unlike the other two, his shop combines an antiquarian and collectors bookshop with a small art gallery.

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