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Gutenberg's Apprentice by Alix Christie

Gutenberg's Apprentice (2014)

by Alix Christie

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I'd read this again; it paints a vivid picture of working in the printing shop in Manz in the 1400s, and there's a fair amount of intrigue. ( )
  deckla | Jul 15, 2018 |
Hesitating what rating to give this book. Looking at how interesting I found it, it deserves 3.5 stars, 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 3.
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.

I am happy to have come across this book and having the chance to learn a bit more about the start of the art of book printing. ( )
  BoekenTrol71 | Sep 26, 2017 |
In her debut novel, Christie explores one of the most momentous events in history: the invention of the printing press. The author used the real people involved, researching historical documents to support way she imagined the scenario unfolding.

I generally like novels such as this one, but for some reason I had a very hard time getting engaged in this work. It took me nearly two weeks to read it, about double the amount of time I usually need for a 400-page book. I did find the information about the conflicts between the guilds, the ruling class, and the Church interesting, but it went on for so long that I grew tired of the political and personal intrigue, and by the time the climax came I didn’t much care what would happen to the relationships between the three central figures: Gutenberg, Fust, and Peter.

I have always read the notation at the end of print books, telling me what type face was used for that edition. That information holds new meaning for me now, as I imagine the original artist carefully carving the alphabet in a new design. In this age of digital print, it is all the more wonderful to imagine the creativity, skill and hard work that went into this marvelous invention. ( )
  BookConcierge | Apr 9, 2017 |
Most of us have, several times in our own lifetimes, seen how new technologies have produced radical cultural change and, therefore, new cultural anxieties. Consider the impact of the computer and the cell phone. Those even older remember how television and air conditioning altered their lives. What we don't often think about is how, even several centuries ago, the same phenomenon took place: Technology brought change and, with it, anxiety.

We know before we open Alix Christie's 2014 novel "Gutenberg's Apprentice" how it will turn out: Johann Gutenberg is going to print a Bible using movable type. Before 1450, Bibles and every other kind of book had to be copied by hand by scribes, a long process that meant every book was precious but also that there were very few books and little reason for most people to learn how to read. So whatever tension and drama the novel contains has to do with how the printing press will change the known world. How will the church accept it? How will the aristocracy accept it? Will his press make Gutenberg rich or put him in prison?

Christie sticks close to the facts, adding details, conversations and minor characters. Her focus is not on Gutenberg but Peter Schoeffer, a young man trained as a scribe and ready to begin a career copying sacred books. Then his foster father, Johann Fust, convinces him to become Gutenberg's apprentice. Fust has invested money in Gutenberg's idea for a printing press, and he wants Peter both to keep an eye on his investment and get in on the ground floor of what could be an important new technology. It is he who tells Peter, "Once we have found the secret to the letters, there will be no need for scribes."

So while Gutenberg is the driving force of the project and Fust bankrolls it, Peter eventually becomes committed to the idea and contributes many of the innovations that make it successful (even though Gutenberg later claims he did it all by himself). Meanwhile there is the constant threat of interference from church leaders, as well as Peter's on-again, off-again romance with a young woman who isn't so sure God wants his Bible to be reproduced by machine.

Christie had never written a novel before, but she is a professional printer, which gives her a unique appreciation for what Gutenberg and Schoeffer went through. And her novel, published by Harper, may not be Gutenberg's Bible, but it nevertheless is a wonderful piece of printing in itself. Few novels are as physically beautiful as this one. ( )
  hardlyhardy | Mar 24, 2017 |
Germany 1450: Printing Press-- Innovation or blasphemy?

Professional Scribe Peter Schoeffer is pulled from his vocation to assist his foster father in a new scheme, one that teeters on the edge of sacrilege and wickedness— mass producing the Holy Bible. He is reluctant to be brought on board; will he struggle with his conscience throughout the ordeal or give in and give it his all? Either way he must do it in secret or else risk everything near and dear to him—including Anna Pinzler, the daughter of a local altar painter.

I found the history surrounding the printing press intriguing and was instantly drawn in however about halfway through it started to drag on and on with little story momentum. As a history geek, I appreciated the meticulous research but as a reader of fiction, I was left wanting more character development. The ‘love story’ element could have carried the book a bit in the middle but for me it fell a bit flat and seemed almost as if it was an after thought plopped into the story-- a bit disconnected. I thought there was too much focus was on the struggles with the printing press--the speed at which progress was made and the financial strain it caused. Yes, I understand that is what the book was about but it is a novel after all. In the end, it was a good first novel and I am glad I read it as I learned a lot about the invention and the struggles they faced. ( )
  Shuffy2 | Mar 3, 2017 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0062336010, Hardcover)

An enthralling literary debut that evokes one of the most momentous events in history, the birth of printing in medieval Germany—a story of invention, intrigue, and betrayal, rich in atmosphere and historical detail, told through the lives of the three men who made it possible.

Youthful, ambitious Peter Schoeffer is on the verge of professional success as a scribe in Paris when his foster father, wealthy merchant and bookseller Johann Fust, summons him home to corrupt, feud-plagued Mainz to meet “a most amazing man.”

Johann Gutenberg, a driven and caustic inventor, has devised a revolutionary—and to some, blasphemous—method of bookmaking: a machine he calls a printing press. Fust is financing Gutenberg’s workshop and he orders Peter, his adopted son, to become Gutenberg’s apprentice. Resentful at having to abandon a prestigious career as a scribe, Peter begins his education in the “darkest art.”

As his skill grows, so, too, does his admiration for Gutenberg and his dedication to their daring venture: copies of the Holy Bible. But mechanical difficulties and the crushing power of the Catholic Church threaten their work. As outside forces align against them, Peter finds himself torn between two father figures: the generous Fust, who saved him from poverty after his mother died; and the brilliant, mercurial Gutenberg, who inspires Peter to achieve his own mastery.

Caught between the genius and the merchant, the old ways and the new, Peter and the men he admires must work together to prevail against overwhelming obstacles—a battle that will change history . . . and irrevocably transform them.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:31 -0400)

When his foster father, a wealthy merchant and bookseller, finances Johann Gutenberg and his printing press, Peter Schoeffer is ordered to become Gutenberg's apprentice and begins his education in the "darkest art" as they print copies of the Holy Bible, drawing the wrath of the Church.… (more)

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