How did the Print Revolution lead to the Development of reading mania in Europe?
Print Culture and the Modern World-Development of Reading Mania in Europe gives an introduction to the origin or the beginning of print culture. Further, it explores how Chinese and Japanese technology influenced print culture in Europe. We will also learn how printing technology affected and changed the social structure in Europe. We will briefly discuss how the sudden surge in books read by the people of Europe increased due to an increase in printing technology, which also resulted in an increase in the literacy rate.
Earliest Print Technology
It is said that the earliest form of print technology was developed in China, Japan, and Korea. They had a system of hand printing. Books in China were printed by rubbing paper against wood blocks and this technique was well known as Woodblock printing, which started in AD 593. East Asia had developed two kinds of printing techniques:
- Woodblock printing, which was also called Xylography.
- Movable-type printing: It was invented in the 1040s by a Chinese artisan Bi Sheng, during the reign of Emperor Renzong of the Northern Song dynasty. In the Movable printing technique instead of carving an entire book into one block, characters were carved into small clay blocks, which also made the rearrangement of blocks possible, instead of having to start carvings all over again.
The blocks were assembled & glued to an iron plate. After this, the ink was applied over the blocks. The next paper was pressed against the blocks. This type of printing was efficient and easier. For many centuries woodblock printing & movable type printing existed side by side in China. In Woodblock printing, they couldn’t print on both sides as the paper was thin & porous. The traditional book of China: the Accordion Book was printed using Woodblock printing technology and stitched on one side.
Print Culture bloomed in China
China recruited the majority of civil service officers through examinations. Students were in need of a large number of textbooks for the preparation. Merchants were also using print in their everyday life to collect & store trade information.
Reading became a leisure activity for rich women. They began to read and write a lot of fiction, poetry, anthologies, and autobiographies. Shanghai soon became the hub of new printing culture as they started using new technologies like the Mechanical press & Western printing. There was a gradual shift from hand printing to mechanical printing.
Print in Japan
The Buddhist Diamond Sutra was an ancient Japanese book printed in AD 868, consisting of six sheets of text & woodcut illustrations. Pictures began to be printed on different materials like textiles, playing cards, and paper money. It is said that Buddhist missionaries from China were the ones who introduced hand-printing technology in Japan. Libraries & bookstores in Japan were full of hand-printed material of numerous types – books on women, musical instruments, calculations, tea ceremony flower arrangements, proper etiquette, cooking, and famous places.
How did Printing culture enter Europe?
- Marco polo was an Italian explorer. After his expedition to China, he returned to Italy with the knowledge of Chinese print technology. That’s how Italians learned about printing technology & began producing books with woodblocks, which eventually spread to entire Europe.
- As the demand for books went on increasing, Europe began to export books to other countries as well. To meet these expanded demands, they also began to produce handwritten manuscripts.
- With the rising demands, Woodblock printing gained more & more popularity. Around 1436, a German goldsmith, Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press. Which brought about a revolution in the field of printing. In the next hundred years, several printing presses were set up in most countries of Europe. Bible was the first book printed by Gutenberg’s printing. These printed books almost resembled handwritten manuscripts.
Development of Reading Mania in Europe
The new way of producing books transformed the lives of people. Printing reduced the cost of books and people was able to access books which created a Culture of Reading. By the end of the 18th century, the literacy rates and the schools spread in Europe were high. Churches began to set up schools in villages, passing literacy to peasants & artisans.
Different forms of literature started in print which attracted new audiences. There were astronomical calendars or ritual calendars, ballads, and folktales that were profusely illustrated with pictures. In England, Penny Chapbooks were carried by petty peddlers known as Chapman, which were sold for a penny so that even the poor would afford a book. Books served several purposes & interests. Newspapers and journals carried information about wars, trade, and development in various places as well. Scientific text compilation and publication became famous. Ancient & medieval maps & scientific diagrams were widely printed. The discoveries of Sir Isaac Newton and the writings of Thomas Paine and Voltaire were also printed & read.
FAQs on Reading Mania in Europe
Question 1: Who invented the printing press?
Johannes Gutenberg, a German Goldsmith invented the printing press.
Question 2: Which was the first book printed on Gutenberg’s printing press?
The first book printed in Gutenberg’s printing press was Bible. About 180 copies were printed.
Question 3: Who introduced Printing Culture to Europe?
Marco Polo, an Italian explorer introduced printing culture to Europe.
Question 4: Define the manuscript.
A handwritten record of information is referred to as a manuscript. These are important sources of historical knowledge that can be found in the form of a letter, on tree leaves and bark, or on scrolls.
Question 5: Which was the oldest book printed in Japan?
The Buddhist Diamond Sutra was the oldest book printed in Japan.
Please Login to comment...