Index, A History of the (Hardback)Dennis Duncan (author)
- 10+ in stock
A wonderfully entertaining tribute to the index, Duncan's wide-ranging volume tells the stories behind some of the most interesting and influential entries amongst a broader history of the innovative literary device.
Most of us give little thought to the back of the book - it's just where you go to look things up. But here, hiding in plain sight, is an unlikely realm of ambition and obsession, sparring and politicking, pleasure and play. Here we might find Butchers, to be avoided, or Cows that sh-te Fire, or even catch Calvin in his chamber with a Nonne. This is the secret world of the index: an unsung but extraordinary everyday tool, with an illustrious but little-known past. Here, for the first time, its story is told.
Charting its curious path from the monasteries and universities of thirteenth-century Europe to Silicon Valley in the twenty-first, Dennis Duncan reveals how the index has saved heretics from the stake, kept politicians from high office and made us all into the readers we are today. We follow it through German print shops and Enlightenment coffee houses, novelists' living rooms and university laboratories, encountering emperors and popes, philosophers and prime ministers, poets, librarians and - of course - indexers along the way. Revealing its vast role in our evolving literary and intellectual culture, Duncan shows that, for all our anxieties about the Age of Search, we are all index-rakers at heart, and we have been for eight hundred years.
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Number of pages: 352
Weight: 573 g
Dimensions: 240 x 162 x 33 mm
'What a surprise to discover that the plain and humble index has such an intricate and rollicking history! Dennis Duncan gives us a learned grand tour from ancient times to the almost present in the design and uses - and cunning abuses - of what is still the most sophisticated search tool ever devised. Instruction, passim! Entertainment, idem!' - David Bellos, author of Is That a Fish in Your Ear?
'Dennis Duncan has done a great service to all bibliophiles by writing this scholarly, witty and affectionate history. By rights "Books, love of" ought to have a page-long entry in the index.' - Lynne Truss, author of Eats, Shoots and Leaves
'Entrancing ... Seldom is a short book so wide-ranging or so original in its subject. Every page has things I didn't know, or hardly realised I knew from a lifetime of looking things up. I want to stop people at random and tell them new facts I've found out. Master the use of the index and you have access to all knowledge.' - Christopher de Hamel, author of Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts
You may also be interested in...
“An accessible and fun history of the index, the humble.”
Index, the humble.
Most of us use a variation of it without thinking, but how many of us know when the index was invented and how it came to be there? Where would the Argos catalogue be without its index? Indexes... More
“A curious and intriguing book well worth the read”
Thank you to Netgalley and publisher's Penguin Press UK - Allen Lane, for this review copy. This is my unbiased review of the author's work and style.
A fascinatingly curious book well researched and... More
“Interesting and illuminating”
An unusual topic but illuminating. Demonstrates how much we use the system in our every day lives. The historical tale is fascinating.
Please sign in to write a review
Would you like to proceed to the App store to download the Waterstones App?
Or, add to basket, pay online, collect in as little as 2 hours, subject to availability.