By Jason König, Greg Woolf
There's a wealthy physique of encyclopaedic writing which survives from the 2 millennia ahead of the Enlightenment. This publication sheds new gentle on that fabric. It lines the improvement of traditions of information ordering which stretched again to Pliny and Varro and others within the classical global. it really works with a vast suggestion of encyclopaedism, resisting the concept that there has been any transparent pre-modern style of the 'encyclopaedia', and displaying in its place how the rhetoric and strategies of entire compilation left their mark on a shocking variety of texts. within the method it attracts awareness to either outstanding similarities and remarkable transformations among conventions of encyclopaedic compilation in numerous classes, with a spotlight totally on European/Mediterranean tradition. The booklet covers classical, medieval (including Byzantine and Arabic) and Renaissance tradition in flip, and combines chapters which survey complete classes with others centred heavily on person texts as case stories.
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Extra resources for Encyclopaedism from antiquity to the Renaissance
The most influential period of canon-formation – the stabilisation of the Greek bookworld – was also roughly contemporary with Callimachus. Estimating the rate at which new books were written after this point is extremely difficult. One set of estimates of the number of new Greek works dateable to each century has suggested a tripling between the sixth and the fifth century BCE, followed by a slower rise peaking in the fourth and third centuries, before a decline over the last two centuries BCE and the first two 26 27 On all this see Reynolds and Wilson (1974) 1–36; Cavallo (1975); Knox and Easterling (1985); Goldhill (2002).
Those priorities vary from one text to another. That variation is partly to be explained in terms of the different agendas and idiosyncrasies of different authors. It is very hard to generalise about the aims of encyclopaedic compilation. Some encyclopaedic texts were primarily conservative, aiming to control and capture and preserve knowledge; others aimed to do something more radical, opening up new horizons for human understanding and stamping encyclopaedic traditions with their own peculiar approaches; yet others combined both conservative and radical impulses in tension with each other.
In addition to the goal of uniting scattered material, one programmatic claim often made by encyclopaedic works of many different types is that their projects will eliminate error, repetition and the inconsequential, leading to better understanding. Naturally this is more aspirational than actual. Yet by imposing an order, encyclopaedias opposed the growing incoherence of the bookworld. And on the basis of the vast efforts involved in their production, the heroic exercise of compilation and discrimination, the enormous practical difficulties of organisation and presentation, they claimed authority.
Encyclopaedism from antiquity to the Renaissance by Jason König, Greg Woolf