G.A.R. Memorial Library (West Newbury)

Index, a history of the, a bookish adventure from medieval manuscripts to the digital age, Dennis Duncan

"Most of us give little thought to the back of the book--it's just where you go to look things up. But as Dennis Duncan reveals in this delightful and witty history, hiding in plain sight is an unlikely realm of ambition and obsession, sparring and politicking, pleasure and play. In the pages of the index, we might find Butchers, to be avoided, or Cows that sh-te Fire, or even catch Calvin in his chamber with a Nonne. Here, for the first time, is the secret world of the index: an unsung but extraordinary everyday tool, with an illustrious but little-known past. Charting its curious path from the monasteries and universities of thirteenth-century Europe to Silicon Valley in the twenty-first, Duncan uncovers how it 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"--, Provided by publisher
Table Of Contents
Point of order: on alphabetical arrangement -- The births of the index: preaching and teaching -- Where would we be without it?: the miracle of the page number -- The map or the territory: the index on trial -- 'Let no damned Tory index my history!': sparring in the back pages -- Indexing fictions: naming was always a difficult art -- 'A keyto all knowledge': the universal index -- Ludmilla and Lotaria: The book index in the age of search -- Coda: archives of reading
Literary Form
non fiction
First American edition.
First published in Great Britain under the title Index, a history of the : a bookish adventure
Physical Description
vii, 343 pages, illustrations, 24 cm.

Library Locations

  • G.A.R. Memorial Library (West Newbury)

    490 Main Street, West Newbury, MA, 01985, US