The First Cambridge Press in Its European Setting

The First Cambridge Press in Its European Setting

The First Cambridge Press in Its European Setting

The First Cambridge Press in Its European Setting

Excerpt

For these lectures I have wilfully chosen a subject, the First Cambridge Press, on which, you might think, all that is needed has been said by scholars as eminent as Henry Bradshaw, George Gray, Gordon Duff, and my immediate teacher in matters of early printing, Francis Jenkinson.

I do not, however, propose to discuss Siberch's press on the same lines on which these illustrious predecessors have dealt with it. They have assembled the output of the press, located the extant copies and analysed its typographic equipment. I have no new discoveries to announce, such as the Prognostication which F. S. Ferguson published in the first volume of Transactions of the Cambridge Bibliographical Society, thereby adding not only a new title but also a new type to Siberch's canon; or Mr D. M. Rogers ' find of an Indulgence in the same new type communicated in the Bodleian Library Record of December 1952.

What I wish to speak about might be described as the literary characteristics of the publishing venture of Siberch and his scholarly backers. Seen in isolation, the short-lived Cambridge typographical experiment of 1521-2 may appear as a freakish, somewhat inexplicable, enterprise, foredoomed to prompt failure. Of the ten titles chosen for publication the preponderant majority were of such a limited appeal that, viewed as a business undertaking, Siberch's press could hardly hope to prosper.

It is necessary, I would suggest, to survey a wider field, to consider Siberch's activity in comparison with similar enterprises in other university towns on the Continent, to recognise it as the symptomatic utterance of a compelling and universal European movement, if we would try to understand the reason for its occurrence.

If this is the task I have rashly undertaken it is a very big one. I must at the outset, I fear, beg your indulgence for giving but a sketchy and very imperfect account of a vast subject, which would require years of singleminded labour to present authoritatively and with sufficient first-hand knowledge of the relevant facts.

Author Advanced search

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.