Dominique Meeùs
Dernière modification le   
Bibliographie : table des matières, index des notions — Retour à la page personnelle
Auteurs : A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U, V, W, X, Y, Z,
Auteur-œuvres : A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U, V, W, X, Y, Z,

Elizabeth Eisenstein, The printing press as an agent of change, 1980

Elizabeth Eisenstein , The printing press as an agent of change : Communications and cultural transformations in early-modern Europe, Volumes I and II, complete in one volume, Cambridge University Press, New York, 1980 (first paperback two-volumes edition, 14th printing 2009), xxii + 794 pages, ISBN : 0-521-29955-1, 978-0-521-29955-8.
Réunion en un volume unique des deux volumes de Eisenstein 1979. Elle en a publié une version abrégée : Eisenstein 1983 (que j’ai lue en traduction française : Eisenstein 2003).

The work is a full-scale historical treatment of the advent of printing and its importance as an agent of change. Professor Eisenstein begins by examining the general implications of the shift from script to print, and goes on to examine its part in three of the major movements of early modern times — the Renaissance, the Reformation, and the rise of modern science.

Quatrième de couverture.

Dans la table des matières imprimée dans le livre, les titres en dessous du niveau de chapitre sont raccourcis. Ci-dessous, je les rétablis :


Note amusante en passant (note 108, p. 79) : John Craig dans ses Theologiae Christianae Principia Mathematica estime le progrès de l’incroyance et en tire une velocity of suspicion. Celle-ci va elle-même en augmentant ; il considère donc une accélération, dont on pourrait tirer la date de la Seconde venue du Christ.

L’imprimerie ouvre la porte à la collection de données et à leur classification et celles-ci ont un effet sur la manière de penser (« 3. Some effects produced by reorganizing texts and reference guides : rationalizing, codifying and cataloguing data », p. 88). Le recours à l’ordre alphabétique se popularise. Le libraire Maunsell publie un catalogue dont on peut souligner le classement des auteurs par leur nom de famille, mais surtout une claire séparation de la science des questions religieuses.

A case in point is offered by a ‘Catalogue of English Printed Bookes’ printed in 1595 for Andrew Maunsell, a London bookseller. Over 6 000 titles were presented in a well-organized three-part sequence each ‘gathered into alphabet’ — devoted first to ‘Divinitie,’ second to ‘The Sciences’ and third to the ‘Humanities.’ In his introduction to each part, Maunsell provides three separate dedications beginning with Queen Elizabeth and the Earl of Essex, going on to interested professionals (such as ‘Reverend Divines’ for part one and ‘Professors of the Sciences Mathematical and of Physicke and Surgery’ for part two) and ending with ‘the Worshipfull, the Masters, Wardens and Assistants to the Companie of Stationers and all other Printers and Booksellers in general.’ In his initial remarks addressed to the latter he notes that his system includes mention of ‘the Author, the Matter, the Translator, the Printer’ and boasts that he has improved on the systems employed by earlier compilers of ‘Latine Catalogues’ such as Gesner, Simler, or John Bale. ‘They make their Catalogue by the Christen name, I by the Sir name. They mingle Diuinitie Law, Phisicke etc together. I set Diuinitie by itself.’ Maunsell’s system not only set Divinity by itself ; it also gathered all the disciplines we now describe as scientific, both mathematical and medical, under one heading labelled ‘Science’ ; while placing all the disciplines we now describe as humanistic : ‘Gramer, Logiclte, Rethoricke, Lawe, Historic, Poetrie, Policie, &c which for the most part Concerne matters of Delight and Pleasure,’ under the heading of the ‘Humanities.’ 106 In addressing doctors of divinity in Part One and professors of the Sciences mathematical, together with physicians and surgeons, in Part Two he was also defining the profession of the scientist in a manner that is often attributed to a much later era.

Pages 106-107.
‘The seconde parte of the Catalogue … concerneth the Sciences Mathematicall, as Arithmetick, Geometrie, Astronomie, Astrologie, Musik, the Arte of Warre and Navigation and also … Physicke and Surgerie…’ The fact that ‘Musicke’ includes titles relating to easy lessons in lute playing and collections of psalms and that books on ‘Architechture, Bathes, Cookerie, Dreames and Prognostications’ are also listed suggests that the division between fields was still not quite like our own. Nevertheless, the grouping of main topics seems remarkably similar to later procedures and quite unlike earlier ones.

Les imprimeurs et éditeurs établissent des réseaux de correspondants et deviennent des foyers d’échange et de collaboration.

This rapid accumulation of data, it should be noted, was itself spurred from the workshops of master printers who issued reference works of various kinds. Sixteenth-century editors and publishers, who served the Commonwealth of Learning, did not merely store data passively in compendia. They created vast networks of correspondents, solicited criticism of each edition, sometimes publicly promising to mention the names of readers who sent in new information or who spotted the errors which would be weeded out.

By the simple expedient of being honest with his readers and inviting criticism and suggestions, Ortelius made his Theatrum a sort of cooperative enterprise on an international basis. He received helpful suggestions from far and wide and cartographers stumbled over themselves to send him their latest maps of regions not covered in the Theatrum.

The Theatrum was… speedily reprinted several times… Suggestions for corrections and revisions kept Ortelius and his engravers busy altering plates for new editions… Within three years he had acquired so many new maps that he issued a supplement of 17 maps which were afterwards incorporated in the Theatrum. When Ortelius died in 1598 at least 28 editions of the atlas had been published in Latin, Dutch, German, French and Spanish… The last edition was published by the House of Plantin in 1612.

Lloyd A. Brown, The Story of Maps, p. 163-164.

Not every edition, to be sure, eliminated all the errors that were spotted ; good intentions stated in prefaces failed to be honored in actual manufacture. Even so, the requests of publishers often encouraged readers to launch their own research projects and field trips which resulted in additional publication programs. Thus a knowledge explosion was set off. The ‘fall-out’ from Ortelius’ editions, for example, encompassed treatises on topography and local history ranging from Muscovy to Wales.

Pages 109-110.

The new surveys led, in turn, to further interchanges which set off new investigations ; the accumulation of more data making necessary more refined classification, and so on — ad infinitum. The sequence of improved editions and ever-expanding reference-works was a sequence without limits — unlike the great library collections amassed by Alexandrian rulers and Renaissance princes. The destruction of the Alexandrian Library in the distant past and the destruction of the great collection amassed by Matthias Corvinus in the recent past were noted by Conrad Gesner in the dedication of the first edition of his own more open-ended universal ‘bibliotheca.’ The natural sciences and the library sciences which Gesner helped to found were capable of unlimited expansion. They entailed an open-ended indefinitely continuous process. The term ‘feed-back’ is ugly and much over-used, yet it does help to define the difference between data-collection before and after the communications shift. After printing, large-scale data-collection did become subject to new forms of feed-back which had not been possible in the age of scribes.

Page 111.

L’imprimé a conduit à donner plus d’importance à la notion d’auteur et à la propriété intellectuelle. La concurrence entre imprimeurs, entre maisons d’édition, a conduit à la notion de droit patrimonial sur l’écrit. (Pages 121 et suivantes.) J’avais lu d’abord des choses très intéressantes à ce sujet dans Shakespeare and the Book Trade de Lukas Erne [Erne 2013b].

En réaction au protestantisme, l’Église catholique interdit un grand nombre de livres (y compris une partie des travaux d’un catholique comme Érasme), avec une double conséquence. Cela donne aux livres interdits un attrait supplémentaire, c’est leur faire une publicité gratuite. Cela entraine un déplacement d’activité du monde catholique vers les pays limitrophes : il est plus facile d’éditer aux Pays-Bas pour introduire clandestinement en France que d’éditer clandestinement en France. (Page 145.)

Eisenstein est contre la thèse, qu’on lui attribue parfois, que la Renaissance, c’est l’imprimerie (p. 171). Cependant la Renaissance est un tout, qui commence avant l’imprimerie, mais où l’imprimerie joue finalement un rôle fondamental. (C’est une question complexe que je ne peux résumer en une phrase et qui occupe tout le chapitre 3, pages 163 et suivantes.)

Pendant des siècles, un savoir énorme était concentré au Musée d’Alexandrie. Il était catalogué et après sa destruction, on a continué à inventorier le savoir dispersé. Cependant, l’imprimerie remplace tout cela en constituant une gigantesque base de données de savoir réparti sur le monde entier, une grande librairie sans murs. Érasme (« Festina lente », dans les Adages) n’a fait que l’entrevoir. (Page 219.)

Albrecht Dürer est un produit typique du monde de l’imprimerie. C’est ce milieu qui permet à l’artiste artisan de s’épanouir en intellectuel moderne. (Pages 247-248.) La collaboration entre ouvriers d’imprimerie et intellectuels fait apparaître des imprimeurs devenus intellectuels et change la relation entre travail manuel et intellectuel avec l’apparition de livres pratiques, sur les métiers. (Pages 249 et suivantes.) De tels livres rendent possible l’auto-apprentissage (page 244). Déjà en Italie, des écoles municipales apprenaient à lire à des artistes et artisans et on écrivait des livres techniques sur leurs métiers, mais l’imprimerie fait passer à un autre niveau la relation entre travail manuel et travail intellectuel. (Pages 252-253.)

Déjà on avait mobilisé l’imprimerie dans la croisade contre les Turcs, ce qui permettait de la dire don de Dieu pour combattre les infidèles, mais ça prend une toute autre dimension avec Luther (p. 303).

Ultimately, gifted boys who might have become preachers simply became publicists instead. ‘The preaching of sermons is speaking to a few of mankind,’ remarked Daniel Defoe, ‘printing books is talking to the whole world.’ [In The Storm.] As an English journalist, a dissenter and a pioneering novelist, Defoe presents many contrasts with the Christian humanists of the early sixteenth century. Yet Erasmus sounded a similar theme. When he was attempting to win the favor of a lay patron, he compared those who preached obscure sermons and were heard in one or two churches with his own books which were ‘read in every country in the world.’

In thus celebrating the carrying power of their publications, both Defoe and Erasmus were actually ringing variations on an old scribal theme.

Page 316.
Acheté le 10-6-2017 à (SKOOB à Bloomsbury). Reçu le 20-6-2017.