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Book Lists and Their Meaning

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Chapter Summary

For the three centuries after the invention of printing, the purchase of a book remained, for most of Europe's peoples, an unusual and memorable event. This chapter sets the scene for the individual case studies that follow, laying out an outline typology for the very different sorts of lists and catalogues in which contemporaries recorded loved, disapproved, or valuable books. It also suggests how, and with what cautions, they may be used to examine the expanding world of book ownership and production. Due to the great quantity of volumes published throughout Europe, the ordering of books posed specific problems. The library of the humanist and diplomat Cristóbalde Salazar is known, thanks to no fewer than 14 separate book lists. One of the most difficult issues encountered in the analysis of book lists is recognising irregularities introduced by scribal mistakes.

Keywords: book lists; Europe; humanist



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