The Paper Trail: An Unexpected History of the World's

The Paper Trail: An Unexpected History of the World's This is the story of how a simple Chinese product allowed knowledge, ideas and religions to spread at an unprecedented rate around the world and down the social scale This is a very readable and well written book on a subject that might at first sight seem boring, but isn t the history of paper, its invention, uses, development and spread from China through the Islamic world to Europe and beyond The parts on China are the best, with an excellent chapter on the Tang poet Bai Juyi What I missed are illustrations There are only a few The author lovingly describes Manichaeist illustrated manuscripts, but in order to see what they look like you have to turn e This is a very readable and well written book on a subject that might at first sight seem boring, but isn t the history of paper, its invention, uses, development and spread from China through the Islamic world to Europe and beyond The parts on China are the best, with an excellent chapter on the Tang poet Bai Juyi What I missed are illustrations There are only a few The author lovingly describes Manichaeist illustrated manuscripts, but in order to see what they look like you have to turn elsewhere But in the end that doesn t matter Alexander Monro clearly loves his subject and has written a long love letter to it that I never tired of reading Als ich neulich von Pl nen las, an Grundschulen keine Schreibschrift mehr zu lehren, fragte ich mich, wie Kinder ohne die Zusammenarbeit von Auge, Hand und Gehirn zuk nftig ihre Muttersprache lernen sollen Zurzeit kann ich mir noch nicht vorstellen, selbst nicht mehr z gig mit der Hand l ngere Texte zu Papier zu bringen Das Zusammenwirken von Vorstellung, Sprache, Schrift und einem Material, auf das man schreibt, vermittelt Alexander Monro in seinem wunderbaren Buch Papier W re im 2 Jahrhu Als ich neulich von Pl nen las, an Grundschulen keine Schreibschrift mehr zu lehren, fragte ich mich, wie Kinder ohne die Zusammenarbeit von Auge, Hand und Gehirn zuk nftig ihre Muttersprache lernen sollen Zurzeit kann ich mir noch nicht vorstellen, selbst nicht mehr z gig mit der Hand l ngere Texte zu Papier zu bringen Das Zusammenwirken von Vorstellung, Sprache, Schrift und einem Material, auf das man schreibt, vermittelt Alexander Monro in seinem wunderbaren Buch Papier W re im 2 Jahrhundert n Chr In China nicht die Papierherstellung entwickelt worden, g be es heute keine chinesische und japanische Kalligraphie denn eine getuschte Schrift erfordert eine Papieroberfl che, die Tusche im exakten Ma aufnehmen kann, ohne sich dabei zu stark vollzusaugen Ohne Papier keine Geldscheine, keine Erlasse einer Verwaltungsb rokratie, keine Verbreitung von Religionen, Reformideen, privaten Briefen und keine demokratischen Wahlen.Ein historisches Sachbuch zum Thema Papier erschien mir zun chst ein sehr trockenes Thema zu sein Alexander Munro belehrte mich jedoch z gig eines Besseren, indem er die Frage verfolgte, wem die Erfindung des Papiers nutzte und welche Motive die Menschen damals antrieben Der Unterschied zwischen Wissen und Begreifen ist mir lange nicht mehr so deutlich geworden wie hier Zum Beispiel wird hier sehr anschaulich vermittelt, wie Form und Gr e eines Beschreibstoffes unmittelbar aus Bewegungsablauf und K rperhaltung eines Schreibers resultieren Munro informiert weniger dar ber, was die Menschen hatten , sondern dar ber, wie sich die Entwicklung einer Technologie gesellschaftlich und politisch auswirkte So betont er, dass die Chinesen das Papier zwar erfanden, die Japaner jedoch die Technologie kultivierten und das Ergebnis wertsch tzten.Monro erz hlt aus dem China der Tang Dynastie, ber die Bedeutung des Korans als Buch in einer noch immer m ndlich berlieferten Religion, aus Europa zur Zeit der Erfindung des Buchdrucks, ber Papier und Druck als Voraussetzung von Reformbestrebungen, ber die Verk ndung der Pressefreiheit in Frankreich 1789 und von der Alphabetisierung aller Bev lkerungsschichten in Europa Die Freiheit, Kritik zu ben, niederzuschreiben und zu verbreiten sieht Monro als bedeutendste Wirkung dieser Erfindung aus dem Alten China Der Autor entwickelt die Geschichte des Buches von seinem Dasein als aufwendig von Hand gefertigtem und entsprechend kostspieligem Besitz bis hin zur maschinell hergestellten preiswerten Massenware, die jedem zug nglich war Theoretisch h tte sich durch die Verf gbarkeit von B chern f r alle Bev lkerungsschichten das Lesen vom Vorlesen des Lehrers oder Haushaltsvorstands zum individuellen Lesen im stillen K mmerlein entwickeln k nnen wenn die Kosten f r Licht Kerze und Heizmaterial dem bis ins 20 Jahrhundert nicht entgegengestanden h tten Papier Wie eine chinesische Erfindung die Welt revolutionierte ist ein ausgezeichnet recherchiertes, elegant formuliertes und gekonnt bersetztes Sachbuch Nachdem mir kurz zuvor einige mittelm ige bersetzungen aus dem Englischen in die H nde gefallen sind, sch tze ich hier besonders die treffende bersetzung in gutes Deutsch Einige Kleinigkeiten h tten aus einem ausgezeichneten Buch ein perfektes Buch gemacht biografische Angaben zur bersetzerin, ein Leseb ndchen, um in den umfangreichen Quellenangaben zu schm kern und der Druck der Abbildungen auf Hochglanzseiten It is highly unlikely that you are reading this review on a piece of paper held in your hand And yet, it was the invention of paper that enabled mass communication and exchange of information quickly and effectively Now we have the internet rapidly replacing the likes of the daily newpaper, but we must cast a thought back to where it all began First produced over 2000 years ago in China, paper very quickly replaced bamboo as a writing surface and from then on was unstoppable in its spread Al It is highly unlikely that you are reading this review on a piece of paper held in your hand And yet, it was the invention of paper that enabled mass communication and exchange of information quickly and effectively Now we have the internet rapidly replacing the likes of the daily newpaper, but we must cast a thought back to where it all began First produced over 2000 years ago in China, paper very quickly replaced bamboo as a writing surface and from then on was unstoppable in its spread Although, it was not till over 1000 years later that paper made its way in a westerly direction to what is now Iran, Iraq, then Turkey to Europe The movement and development of paper has been integral to the history of these regions over the last 2000 years As a form of storing religious texts, whether they be Buddhist as in the early centuries of paper use in China, the Koran or the Bible as a means of distributing religious messages amongst the populace as seen in the work of Martin Luther in the 1500s looking for an alternative to the Catholic church, or as fuel to the French Revolution in the late 18th century, paper has been at the centre of it all Even New Zealand s very own Treaty of Waitangi has two pages in this book devoted to it Apparently the Treaty was a very rare type of document in British imperial history, in that it was a bilingual document Maori and English drawn up for both sides to sign Which is what happened Although as we now know, the two versions actually had two different meanings However it is considered remarkable for its time, as it attempted to come to a political settlement without going to war The author also points out that when the Treaty was signed in 1840, the Maori had only had maybe 20 years of exposure to the written word, their entire means of communicating and passing on history up to that time being oral in nature Is it any wonder they are such marvellous story tellers This research undertaken for this book is enormous, and how much the author has put in is mind boggling The author has studied Chinese and lived for a time in Beijing, so it is hardly surprising that half of this book is about the invention, development and spread of paper in China, Eastern and Central Asia the first 1000 years I am not entirely sure how one makes 1000 years of paper making interesting and riveting, and at times I found myself nodding off The seond 1000 years is easier to digest as it has muchrelevance to history that we already know about Nevertheless, I wouldn t say this book is an easy read The detail and minutiae of his subject is at times overwhelming, to the extent that I felt the thread of many of his stories was getting lost There has been a trend in recent years for non fiction writers to undertake histories of items inventions that have been crucial to the development of the world we know and live in, and write about it in a way that makes it accessible to the average reader For example E mc2 by David Bodanis takes Albert Einstein s famous equation and explains it in such a way the most unmathematical persons in the world could understand This book is not on the same accessible level as the likes of E mc2 My biggest criticism the almost total lack of illustrations In a book of 368 pages there are only seventeen illustrations I don t understand how a book about paper and it s place in modern history can only have seventeen, low quality illustrations There is whole chapter devoted to the Renaissance and the use of paper in the creation of some of the beautiful art works from that time Any illustrations from this time No Any pictures of some of the beautifully and crafted Bibles of the Middle Ages No Or the copies of the Koran produced by the Islamic Caliphate No I kept wanting to see pictures of what the author was writing about Disappointing for a book with so much research and information in it But if you have the time and want to know where paper, the development of script, binding, typography, the printing press, the concept of reading, the disbursement of knowledge sprang from, then you will get a lot out of reading this book An often fascinating read tracing the history of written culture, really, across the world, and how paper emerged from China along the Silk Road to the Middle East and Europe The discussion of paper s intertwined history with Buddhism, Islam, and the Protestant Reformation was also quite interesting I would have loved a fewillustrations because they re pretty few and far between. Good Seems to be quite comprehensive.Bad Very boring, it feels like reading a collection of facts. I enjoyed this book a history of the impact of paper on history really My only reservation was that it felt a little unbalanced between the early days of the invention of paper and developments and changes coming up to the present day I would have likedon art and design uses of paper None of that spoiled my enjoyment of it. Excellent history of both papermaking and the spread of the history of paper use throughout the Eastern world, starting in China and making its way through Asia and Europe The Americas are mentioned but there is not a significant dive into the papermaking history there. This book is beautifully written, and a pleasure to read Apart from that, it has some oddities In theory, it is a history of paper but really it sa history of the changing cultural milieus of paper, with digressions about famous people who have used paper, rather than a history of the actual technologies of papermaking The first half of the book is spent on China after that point, China disappears, not really to return again, as the author follows paper through the Islamic Middle Ages This book is beautifully written, and a pleasure to read Apart from that, it has some oddities In theory, it is a history of paper but really it sa history of the changing cultural milieus of paper, with digressions about famous people who have used paper, rather than a history of the actual technologies of papermaking The first half of the book is spent on China after that point, China disappears, not really to return again, as the author follows paper through the Islamic Middle Ages, Rennaissance and Reformation Europe, and constantly accelerating to the invention of the novel and of freedom of the press Perhaps most disappointingly, the citations are uneven A few of the later chapters are relatively well footnoted, but many of the chapters, on Chinese, Central Asian, and Islamic literary cultures, aren t To find sources on these topics, one has to sift through the bibliography and guess That s frustrating the book repeatedly left me engaged and wanting to knowbut with no references to support a deeper dive But, again, the writing itself is lovely and interesting, and likely to satisfy readers who take an aesthetic pleasure in the sweep of history and the diversity of human cultures

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