Music books and sociability

Wistreich, R. (2011) Music books and sociability. Il Saggiatore Musicale: Rivista Semestrale di Musicologia, 18 pp. 230-246. ISSN 1123-8615 (print) 2035-6706 (online)


In the opening essay of his 1992 collection, The Order of Books, Roger Chartier drew attention to the way that studies of the histoire du livre might fail to give an adequate account of the cultural function of early modern books by ignoring two interrelated aspects of the act of reading itself: first, that reading is an embodied practice and second, that it is a social one. Chartier recalled that ‘Reading is not uniquely an abstract operation of the intellect: it brings the body into play, it is inscribed in a space and a relationship with oneself and with others’, going on to propose that ‘special attention should be paid’ to one crucial aspect of early modern reading practice that has largely disappeared in the contemporary world – ‘reading aloud’. [Quotations from Roger Chartier, The Order of Books: Readers, Authors and Libraries in Europe between the Fourteenth and Eighteenth Centuries, trans. Lydia G. Cochrane (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1994), p. 8; originally published as L’ordre des livres (Aix-en-Provence: Alinéa, 1992).]

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