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Gutenberg's Apprentice: A Novel
by Alix Christie | Literature & Fiction
Registered by over-the-moon of Lausanne, Vaud Switzerland on 10/3/2015
Average 6 star rating by BookCrossing Members 

status (set by over-the-moon): reserved


4 journalers for this copy...

Journal Entry 1 by over-the-moon from Lausanne, Vaud Switzerland on Saturday, October 03, 2015

This book has not been rated.

Noticed it in FNAC, looks interesting. 


Journal Entry 2 by over-the-moon at Lausanne, Vaud Switzerland on Thursday, April 27, 2017

8 out of 10

The author is an experienced letterpress printer; this is her first novel. I enjoyed it particularly because I have always been interested in printing and publishing: other readers without these interests might find it a little stodgy and unexciting (which explains some of the negative reviews I've seen).

The story unravels quire by quire, relating how Peter Schoeffer, a copyist, was apprenticed at a young age to a very surly and fiery Gutenberg who has just invented a wooden press and movable type, in great secret. We take things so much for granted nowadays: in those early times in Mainz they had to work out how to forge each metal letter (300 of them needed for the Bible), each mould, what alloy to use, how to file down each letter to get them all even, how to make the ink, how to get the ink onto the lines of letters, how to justify the text, to space the lines, make hyphens and other signs, making proofs (with soot), how to use two colours. All this with a background of industrial espionage, the disapproval of the Church of such heretical practises (identical pages could only be the work of the Devil), and the crucial moment of the capture of Constantinople by the Ottoman Turks and their incursions into Europe, followed by the organization of the Crusades, the beginnings of the Reformation. It took them years to produce 180 copies of their Book of Books, in two volumes - with spaces left for individual illumination by hand, bespoke for each purchaser.
Also in the background we see Peter's courtship of the girl he eventually married, his family life and later success (he is considered the founder of the publishing trade, and of the Frankfurt Book Fair).


I always appreciate information on the typeface chosen for a book and here is no exception: an explanation is given of the Historical Fell Type used, and the initial caps at the beginning of each chapter, as well as the floriated initials for the Sponheim Abbey chapters, where the old Peter Schoeffer is conversing with Johannes Trifemius about how they created and set up the movable type.

At the beginning of the book, there's a useful map of medieval Mainz illustrated by Laura Hartman Maestro; however I spotted typos (Franfurt instead of Frankfurt, Heidleberg instead of Heidelberg), and regret that the publisher has not taken account of the central gutter by leaving extra space, so the middle of the map disappears into the fold. Also the left-hand frame does not match the right. (This is why I gave a rating of 8.) There is some useful biographical information at the back and an interview with the author.

Also recommended, in the same vein and typographically more pleasing, Le Maître de Garamond by Anne Cuneo. 


Journal Entry 3 by over-the-moon at Lausanne, Vaud Switzerland on Thursday, May 25, 2017

This book has not been rated.

Proposing this as a bookray; maybe we can all get it finished before the Convention in Mainz!
Order for mailing:

Earthcaroleanne (UK) - here (11.6), read and sent on
TrojanHorse (UK/Europe) - here (27.07)
Boekentrol (Europe) - here (23.08)
over-the-moon (Switzerland) - here (09.10)
Olivia Lo (Taiwan/international)
Billbooks (Australia - post worldwide)
elizardbreath (US)
Rhythmbiscuit (US/Canada)
azuki (US/Canada)
Bookgirrl (Canada)
 


Journal Entry 4 by wingearthcaroleannewing at Falkirk, Scotland United Kingdom on Saturday, June 10, 2017

This book has not been rated.

It's arrived. 


Journal Entry 5 by wingearthcaroleannewing at Falkirk, Scotland United Kingdom on Sunday, July 23, 2017

5 out of 10

I’m afraid this is another one that has taken me a long time to read and I think it was because the actual story didn’t really grip me, it was a bit slow and long and I really got fed up with the bickering between the guilds. Don't get me wrong, I did find it fascinating, a lot of the bits to do with the first press and everything they faced was interesting/mind boggling/stupendous, and so on, but for the most part I did find it hard to get in to and to actually concentrate on and come back to it if I left it, I also couldn't get a connection to the characters, the characters lacked depth in themselves and their relationships, I'm not too sure if this was on purpose or not. I actually found the afterward just as interesting. 


Journal Entry 6 by wingearthcaroleannewing at Petersfield, Hampshire United Kingdom on Monday, July 24, 2017

This book has not been rated.

Released 3 mos ago (7/24/2017 UTC) at Petersfield, Hampshire United Kingdom

CONTROLLED RELEASE NOTES:

Posting on in the bookring. 


Journal Entry 7 by wingTrojanhorsewing at Petersfield, Hampshire United Kingdom on Wednesday, July 26, 2017

This book has not been rated.

Thank you earthcaroleanne for sending this on to me. I received it safely in the post this morning. I'm just finishing a book from another ring and will then start this one to get it on its way swiftly. 


Journal Entry 8 by wingTrojanhorsewing at Petersfield, Hampshire United Kingdom on Friday, August 18, 2017

8 out of 10

I really enjoyed reading this novel although it was a bit of a slog at times. The story of Gutenberg's bible and all the associated characters has been cleverly written intertwining fact and fiction. The 15th Century way of life is well described and provides a perfect backdrop to the story.
As a calligrapher myself, I can sympathise with Peter's initial reaction to the printing press. Although I fear he coped better with the inevitable changes than I may have done had I lived at that time!

For those interested, the British Library have digitalised their 2 copies: one on vellum and one on paper and you can compare the two page by page. I'm sure Gutenberg would be delighted with there being digital versions but Peter (certainly in his early days) would be turning in his grave at the prospect!

http://www.bl.uk/treasures/gutenberg/homepage.html
 


Journal Entry 9 by wingTrojanhorsewing at A BOOKRAY , -- By post or by hand/ in person -- United Kingdom on Friday, August 18, 2017

This book has not been rated.

Released 2 mos ago (8/19/2017 UTC) at A BOOKRAY , -- By post or by hand/ in person -- United Kingdom

CONTROLLED RELEASE NOTES:

Sending this on to the next person in the bookray.
Happy Reading!

 


Journal Entry 10 by wingBoekentrolwing at Leeuwarden, Fryslân (Friesland) Netherlands on Tuesday, August 22, 2017

This book has not been rated.

This book arrived safely in my mailbox today. Thank you so much for sending it on, Trojanhorse!
There's one book I'm reading that I will finish before I can start reading this one. Look forward to it very much :-) 


Journal Entry 11 by wingBoekentrolwing at Leeuwarden, Fryslân (Friesland) Netherlands on Wednesday, September 27, 2017

6 out of 10

Hesitating what rating to give this book. Looking at how interesting I found it, it deserves 7, but taking into account how loooong it took me to read it and how boring I thought it was from time to time, I'm not giving it more than 6.
The book didn't sparkle, it didn't make the characters come to life while I was reading.
I did finish it, first of all because I dislike not finishing a book and secondly I wanted to know how it ended. And then the real end: what happened after the dedicated time they said it would take to print, the settling of affaires. I could have read the afterword, but then there would have been holes in my knowledge of the book.

Ready to go back to over-the-moon and start the rest of its journey from there.
I am happy to have come across this book. Thanks for making it available!! 


Journal Entry 12 by wingBoekentrolwing at Leeuwarden, Fryslân (Friesland) Netherlands on Wednesday, September 27, 2017

This book has not been rated.

Released 3 wks ago (9/27/2017 UTC) at Leeuwarden, Fryslân (Friesland) Netherlands

CONTROLLED RELEASE NOTES:

Back to over-the-moon, to continue the rest of its journey.  


Journal Entry 13 by over-the-moon at Lausanne, Vaud Switzerland on Monday, October 09, 2017

This book has not been rated.

back with me, am happy to read your reactions, similar to mine...
Now waiting for Olivia Lo's address. 


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