Book Reviews | January 2024 | Alex Johnson

Indigenous North American Type, A History of Copyrights, and Samuel Johnson: January Books Roundup


Indigenous North American Type by Kevin King

Our ongoing look at new books that have recently caught the eye of our print and online editors.

Indigenous North American Type by Kevin King

A fascinating celebration of the typography of the Indigenous languages of North America based on ongoing collaboration with local language communities. Designed by Alexey Murashko and published by Typotheque.

The common writer in modern history edited by Martyn Lyons

New studies by more than a dozen leading historians of scribal culture looking at the 'common writer' and using research items such as pauper letters, ego-documents, life-writing of various kinds, US and Red Armies soldiers' and emigrants' correspondence, handwritten newspapers and graffiti in streets and prisons. A wide international range from the early modern Hispanic Empire to modern Britain, 19th century Finland, and the USA. "The book demonstrates the importance of studying manuscript culture to give a voice, a presence and dignity to the ordinary protagonists of history," say the publishers, Manchester University Press

Who Owns This Sentence?: A History of Copyrights and Wrongs by David Bellos and Alexandre Montagu

From 18th century London, through novels, poems and wallpaper, to artificial intelligence, an intriguing and witty global history of what can be owned, arguing that copyright can be seen as an engine of inequality in the 21st century. Published by W. W. Norton

Handwritten: Remarkable People on the Page by Lesley Smith

A celebration of the art of handwriting, including samples from famous writers, scientists, and historical figures.
Distributed for Bodleian Libraries by University of Chicago press. Read the Fine Books review here

Aldus Manutius: The Invention of the Publisher by Oren Margolis
The first monograph in English for more than four decades on the inventor of the italic type who also issued the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, one of the most beautiful and mysterious printed books of the Italian Renaissance. Margolis shows how Aldus redefined the role of a book printer, from manual laborer to learned publisher. Distributed for Reaktion Books by University of Chicago press.

Montauk Surf Journals by Tony Caramanico

The daily journals of surfer, artist and world traveler Tony Caramanico, using words, original art, pictures and magazine clippings, ranging from the 1960s through to 1990s. Foreword by surfer and editor Zack Raffin. Published by Damiani

Reading Samuel Johnson: Reception and Representation, 1750–1960 by Phil Jones

Jones analyses the effect of Samuel Johnson on writers from James Boswell to Samuel Beckett to throw a light on their response to Johnson. Published by Clemson University Press.

Gabriel Harvey and the History of Reading edited by Anthony Grafton, Nicholas Popper, and William H. Sherman

Essays by Lisa Jardine and others focusing on the reading practices of Elizabethan polymath and keen annotator Gabriel Harvey, and an important work in the ongoing scholarship on the history of reading. Published by UCL Press