The Matter of the Page: Essays in Search of Ancient and by Shane Butler

By Shane Butler

Old and medieval literary texts frequently name realization to their life as actual gadgets. Shane Butler is helping us to appreciate why. Arguing that writing has continually been as a lot a cloth fight as an highbrow one, the problem of the web page deals well timed classes for the electronic age approximately how creativity works and why literature strikes us.     Butler starts off with a few concerns in regards to the materiality of the literary textual content, either as a method (the draft) and a product (the book), and he lines the curious heritage of “the web page” from scroll to manuscript codex to revealed ebook and past. He then bargains a chain of unforgettable pics of authors at paintings: Thucydides suffering to explain his personal diseased physique; Vergil able to burn an epic poem he couldn't end; Lucretius wrestling with phrases at the same time he fights the insanity that would force him to suicide; Cicero mesmerized by means of the concept of erasing his complete profession; Seneca plumbing the depths of the soul within the wax of his capsules; and Dhuoda, who sees the ebook she writes as a door, a tunnel, a womb. Butler finds how the paintings of writing remodeled every one of those authors into his or her personal first reader, and he explains what this metamorphosis teaches us approximately how we too should still learn.     All Greek and Latin quotations are translated into English and technical concerns are conscientiously defined for common readers, with scholarly info within the notes.

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What sense would they make to us? Does he even know them himself ? And what good does it do that doctors name what they cannot cure? Presumably, furthermore, we are supposed to imagine still other ejections for which no name yet exists. In any case, the phrase is merely a way of speaking, a gesture toward an unnamable horror: no lexicon could ever name every disintegration these bodies endured. But at the same time, even the ordinary words for the body’s parts—head, throat, lungs, bowels—seem too numerous, as the plague reduces us all to little more than heaps of flesh and fluid.

But even this does not mean that the seasoned orator has no work to do. When Cicero says, nolo haec tam minuta constructa appareat, context is everything, for in the pages that precede and follow, Cicero is describing—in what can only be called minute detail— not only the proper placement of words but also that of syllables into the sonorous rhythms of Ciceronian prose. Indeed, the key word here is appareat : “I do not want this construction to appear so minute”—Cicero does not say that the construction should not be so minute.

And it violently disturbed the stomach, once it had settled there, followed by every ejection of bile for which the doctors have a name, the pain of which was exhausting. Unsuccessful attempts to vomit that produced violent convulsions befell most sufferers, some just as the above symptoms subsided, others much later. Externally, the body was not particularly warm to the touch, nor was it pale, but reddish, dark, and erupting in ulcers and small blisters. Internally, the body’s temperature rose to the point that victims could not bear to be covered by the thinnest clothes, sheets, or anything else, preferring instead to be naked, more than happy to hurl themselves into cold water, if they could have.

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