Power of Reading: From Socrates to Twitter

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9781472914774: Power of Reading: From Socrates to Twitter

Eminent cultural and social historian Frank Furedi presents an eclectic and entirely original history of reading. The very act of reading and the choice of reading material endow individuals with an identity that possesses great symbolic significance. In ancient Rome, Cicero was busy drawing up a hierarchy of different types of readers. Since that time, people have been divided into a variety of categories--literates and illiterates, intensive and extensive readers, or vulgo and discreet readers. In the 19th century, accomplished readers were praised as "men of letters," while their moral opposites were described as "unlettered." Today, distinctions are made between cultural and instrumental readers and scorn is directed toward the infamous "tabloid reader."

Power of Reading explores the changing meanings attributed to the act of reading. Although it has a historical perspective, the book's focus is very much on the culture of reading that prevails in the 21st century. It is a fascinating insight into understanding the post-Gutenberg debates about literacy in a multimedia environment with such a strong emphasis on the absorption of information. Taking a cue from George Steiner, Furedi argues vigorously for the restoration of the art of reading--every bit as important as the art of writing.

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About the Author:

Frank Furedi fled to England in 1956 from Hungary. He was appointed Professor of Social Studies at the University of Kent and has been celebrated as a pundit and public intellectual throughout the English speaking world. His most celebrated books include The Culture of Fear and Where Have All the Intellectuals Gone?

Review:

[A] supremely erudite history of reading through the centuries ... Exhaustively researched and punctuated with absorbing anecdotes * Times Literary Supplement * A barnstorming rebuttal of those who hail the death of reading and the author. This formidably erudite history is an elegant celebration of literature and its power to cultivate the mind. * Professor Duncan Wu * This comprehensive and erudite study is a love letter to literacy * Prospect *

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