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The written world: how literature shaped…

The written world: how literature shaped history (2017)

by Martin Puchner

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I really enjoyed this tour of history's watershed writings. The book really shines in the first half; to me it seemed pretty clear that Puchner was much more at home discussing Scheherazade and Gilgamesh than discussing Harry Potter. (Or maybe he was just bitter that he was sorted into Slytherin.) I especially appreciated what a wide net Puchner cast--the chapters on The Tale of Genji, the Mayan Popul Vuh, and the West African Epic of Sunjata are some of the strongest and most interesting in the book.

Highly recommended for anyone interested in literary history. But be forewarned that the Mayan chapter will break your heart. ( )
  GaylaBassham | May 27, 2018 |
This timeline through the history of civilization and stories is a wonderful read. It celebrates the works that have shaped history from oral tales to Twitter, the tools used and the very meaning of literature. Although Martin Puchner is a Harvard Professor, the book is amazingly accessible, enlivened by his enthusiasm. ( )
  MM_Jones | Dec 12, 2017 |
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Book description
A hugely engaging exploration of how writing changed civilizations, cultures and the history of the world. You're likely to list the invention of paper, the printing press and the world wide web as major influences on the way we share stories. You probably wouldn't include Malian singers, American astronauts, Greek generals, Japanese courtiers and Spanish adventurers. And yet all of them played a crucial role in shaping and spreading literature as we know it today. The Written World tells the riveting story of the development of literature, where stories intersect with writing technologies like clay, stone, parchment, paper, printing presses and computers. Central to the development of religions, political movements and even nations, texts spread useful truths and frightening disinformation, and have the power to change lives. Through vivid storytelling and across a huge sweep of time, The Written World offers a new and enticing perspective on human history.
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"The story of literature in sixteen acts, from Alexander the Great and the Iliad to ebooks and Harry Potter, this engaging book brings together remarkable people and surprising events to show how writing shaped cultures, religions, and the history of the world"--… (more)

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