Preface

Every book has many makers. This book was authored, edited and published by graduate students in a seminar on Renaissance Humanism at the University of Chicago. Renaissance scholars devoted herculean levels of labor and love, not just to writing, but to editing and publishing texts, creating the libraries which they hoped would shape a better world. It can be difficult to remember today just how many makers it took to bring us the crisp, affordable Homer volumes which now grace every bookstore. This project explores that transformation from the outside, and the inside. Exploring from the outside, the essays we produced about Renaissance editions of Homer in the Bibliotheca Homerica Langiana at the University of Chicago Library chronicle the transformation of Homer’s text from precious manuscripts, to bulky incunables, to comfortable octavos, to accessible vernaculars, combining approaches from Art History, Classics, Comparative Literature, English, History, and Romance Languages to showcase the rich avenues of inquiry opened by what may be the most multivalent of all human technologies: the book. Exploring from the inside, the publication of this volume is our own modest contribution to the long Homeric tradition. By living the same labors as our subjects—transcription, translation, standardization, typography—we learned by doing far more viscerally than we could by just repeating the perennial lesson: every book has many makers, and every maker transforms the work more subtly and more completely than the word “author” leads us to believe.

— Ada Palmer

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