The Printed Word. The Way How It Changed

Гольдштейн Вадим Сергеевич
Пильщикова Владислава Федоровна
МБОУ СОШ № 15 имени Пяти Героев Советского Союза

В данном исследовательском проекте по английскому языку на тему "The Printed Word. The Way How It Changed" автором была поставлена цель показать важность книг для современного общества, в связи с тем, что в современном мире высокоразвитых технологий большинство людей предпочитают чтению книг телевизор и компьютер.

Подробнее о проекте:

Предложенная исследовательская работа по английскому языку на тему "The Printed Word. The Way How It Changed" имеет большую практическую значимость, а именно: может использоваться на уроках истории, иностранного языка, классных часах, внеклассных мероприятиях.

В данном творческом исследовательском проекте в доступной форме изложен материал об истории книгопечатания, развитии печати и ее положения в современном мире, а также изложена краткая характеристика всех видов книг: печатная книга, аудиокнига и электронная книга.

При написании исследовательской работы по иностранному языку на тему "The Printed Word. The Way How It Changed" были использованы информационные материалы из Интернета, журналов и специальной литературы по данной теме. Проект написан га английском языке.


1.1. The Appearance of a Book
1.2. The Revolutionary Idea of Printing
2.1. Audio Book
2.2. Electronic-book
3.1. Classical Libraries
3.2. Virtual Libraries


It is hard to overestimate the role of books in people’s life. Books help us to understand life and the people surrounding us better. That is why I have chosen “The Printed Word. The Way How it Changed” as the theme of my project.

Unfortunately, nowadays the point of view on books has changed in comparison with the past, taking into account an active way of life. In the modem world of highly-developed technologies most people prefer watching TV and playing computer games to reading books. And this fact makes the problem actual. I think that the situation should be changed.
So, the aim of my project is presenting the importance of books for the modem society.

To achieve this aim I set myself the following tasks:

  • to get the readers acquainted with the history of the printed word;
  • to tell about various kinds of books;
  • to inform about the treasure houses of knowledge and information.

In order my work doesn't have an abstract form I have made a public opinion
polls to find out what kind of books my friends and classmates prefer reading.
The results showed that electronic books are the most popular ones.
And I believe that my project will make people change their attitude to reading.

1.1. The Appearance of a Book

In ancient times writing was done on clay tablets, papyrus and parchment. Clay tablets were made of clean-washed, smooth clay. While still wet, the clay had wedge- shaped letters imprinted on it with a stylus, and then was kiln fired or sun dried. Tablets were made of various shapes: cone-shaped, drum-shaped and flat.

They were often placed in a clay envelop. Vast quantities of these have been excavated in the Near East, of which about a half million can be easily read. It is estimated that 99 percent of the Babylonian tablets have yet to be dug. The oldest ones go back to 3000 B.C. They are practically imperishable; fire only hardened them more. Personal and business letters, legal documents, books, and communications between rulers are represented.

One of the most famous is the “Code of Hammurabi”, a Babylonian king who lived long before the time of Moses. The tablets reveal intimate details of everyday life in the Near East and shed light on many obscure customs mentioned in Old Testament. Some tell the story of the Creation, the Fall and the Flood. They do much to verify the truth of the Biblical record.

The use of papyrus as a writing material goes back to extreme antiquity. The oldest written papyrus known to be in existence is an account-sheet belonging to the reign of the Egyptian king Assa, which is dated 2600 B.C. The size of the single sheet of papyrus was not constant in ancient times. For most non-literary documents (letters, accounts, receipts, etc.) a single sheet was sufficient; for longer texts, especially literary ones, the necessary sheets were stuck together and made into a roll.

It was usual to write on that side of the sheet on which the fibres ran horizontally. Only in exceptional cases was there writing on both sides of the sheets of a papyrus roll. Egypt is important for papyrus in two respects. First, papyrus plants grew almost exclusively in the region of the Nile delta. Secondly, the dry climate of Egypt made it possible for papyri to endure, in many cases, for over 2 millenia.

Paper was fabricated on a board moistened with water from the Nile: the muddy liquid serves as the bonding force. First, there was spread flat on the board a layer consisting of strips of papyrus running vertically, as long as possible, with their ends squared off.

After that a cross layer completed the construction. Then it was pressed in presses, and the sheets thus formed were dried in the sun and joined one to another in declining order of excellence down to the poorest. There were never more than twenty sheets in a roll. The qualities esteemed in paper were fineness, firmness, whiteness, and smoothness.

The Emperor Claudius changed the order of preference. The excess fineness of the “Augustan” paper was insufficient to withstand the pressure of the pen; in addition, as it let the ink through there was always the fear of a blot from the back, and in other respects it was unattractive in appearance because excessively translucid.

Consequently the vertical under layer was made of second- grade material and the horizontal layer of first-grade. He also increased its width to measure a foot. The progress of papyrus creating was rather troublesome because rough spots were rubbed smooth with ivory or shell, but then the writing became scaly: the polished paper is shinier and less absorptive. To correct the situation a special paste was prepared.

Common paste made from the finest flour was dissolved in boiling water with the merest sprinkle of vinegar, for carpenter’s glue and gum were too brittle. A more painstaking process percolates boiling water through the crumb of leavened bread; by this method the substance of the intervening paste was so minimal that even the suppleness of linen was surpassed.

Whatever paste was used it ought to be no more or less than a day old. Afterwards it was flattened with the mallet and lightly washed with paste, and the resulting wrinkles were again removed and smoothed out with the mallet. In the later centuries of antiquity was found the papyrus book or codex, which finally triumphs over the roll.

It is not true that the transition from roll to book was the result of the introduction of parchment. The British Museum possesses a fragment of a papyrus codex of the “Iliad”, probably of the 3rd century A.D. Also, there is a leaf from a codex of the gospelsn of the 3rd century, besides other fragments of Biblical codices. The University Library at Heidelberg possesses twenty-seven leaves from an old codex of the Septuagint. And the sayings of Jesus found at Oxyrhynchus

are also on a leaf from a codex. The first recorded purchase of papyri by European visitors to Egypt was in 1778. In that year a nameless dealer in antiquities bought from some peasants a papyrus roll of documents from the year 191-192 A.D., and looked on while they set fire to fifty or so others simply to enjoy the aromatic smoke that was produced.

Since that date an enormous quantity of inscribed papyri in all possible languages, of ages varying from a thousand to nearly five thousand years, have been recovered from the magic soil of the ancient seats of civilisation in the Nile Valley. From about 1820 to 1840 the museums of Europe acquired quite a respectable number of papyri from Memphis and Letopolis in Middle Egypt, and from This, Panopolis, Thebes, Hermonthis, Elephantine and Syene in Upper Egypt.

The next decisive event, apart from isolated finds, was the discovery of papyri in the province of El-Fayum (Middle Egypt) in 1877. To the north of the capital, Medinet el-Fayftm, lay a number of mounds of rubbish and debris, marking the site of the ancient “City of Crocodiles”, afterwards called “The City of the Arsino'ftes”, and these now yielded up hundreds and thousands of precious sheets and scraps.

Since then there has been a rapid succession of big finds, which have not ceased even yet: we are still in a period of important discoveries. In the external history of the discoveries the most noteworthy feature is that so many of the papyri have been dug up with the spade from Egyptian rubbish-heaps.

Parchment was developed in Pergamon, from which name it is believed the word “parchment” evolved as a substitute for papyrus, which was temporarily not being exported from Alexandria, its only source. Herodotus mentioned writing on skins as common in his time, the 5th century B.C. In the 2nd century B.C. a great library was set up in Pergamon that rivalled the famous “Library of Alexandria”. As prices rose for papyrus and the reed used for making it was over-harvested towards local extinction in the two nomes of the Nile delta that produced it, Pergamon adapted by increasing the use of parchment.

Writing on prepared animal skins had a long history. David Diringer noted that the first mention of Egyptian documents written on leather goes back to the Fourth Dynasty (2550 - 2450 B.C.), but the earliest of such documents extant are: a fragmentary roll of leather of the Sixth Dynasty (24th century B.C.), and preserved in the Cairo Museum; a roll of the Twelfth Dynasty (1990-1777 B.C.) now in Berlin; and a document of the reign of Ramses II (early 13th century B.C.). Though the Assyrians and the Babylonians impressed their cuneiform on clay tablets, they also wrote on parchment from the 6th century B.C. onward. Early Islamic texts are also found on parchment.

1.2. The Revolutionary Idea of Printing

In the mid-15th century Johannes Gutenberg invented a mechanical way of making books. This was the first example of mass book production. Before the invention of printing, multiple copies of a manuscript had to be made by hand, a laborious task that could take many years. Later books were produced by and for the Church using the process of wood engraving.

This required the craftsman to cut away the background, leaving the area to be printed raised. When a page was complete, often comprising a number of blocks joined together, it would be inked and a sheet of paper was then pressed over it for an imprint. The susceptibility of wood to the elements gave such blocks a limited lifespan.

In the Far East, movable type and printing presses were known but did not replace printing from individually carved wooden blocks, from movable clay type, processes much more efficient than hand copying. The use of movable type in printing was invented in 1041 A.D. by Bi Sheng in China.

It is not clear whether Gutenberg knew of these existing techniques or invented them independently. Europeans used xylography1 to produce books. Gutenberg began experimenting with metal typography after he had moved from his native town of Mainz to Strassburg around 1430.

Knowing that wood-block type involved a great deal of time and expense to reproduce, because it had to be hand carved, Gutenberg concluded that metal type could be reproduced much more quickly once a single mold had been fashioned. When Johannes Gutenberg began building his press in 1436, he'art of engraving on wood, block printing was unlikely to have realized that he was giving birth to an art form which would take center stage in the social and industrial revolutions which followed.

The first person to print illustrated books was Albrecht Pfister. Around 1460 he published a book titled “The Farmer from Bohmen”. In 1461 Pfister printed an edition a series of fables in German which contained 101 woodcut illustrations. The woodcuts were in simple outline and were probably intended to be hand coloured.

Gutenberg’s invention spread rapidly after his death in 1468. It met in general with a ready, and an enthusiastic reception in the centers of culture. The names of more than 1000 printers, mostly of German origin, have come down to us from the 15th century. The first use of copper engravings for illustration occurred in 1476.

Early experiments in using engraving for illustrations were not successful because the two different methods of printing not only required two operations; they required different types of equipment. As a result registration problems occurred. The solution was to print the images on separate sheets of paper and bind them into the book or to print on thin paper and cut out and paste the images in place.

While the Gutenberg press was much more efficient than manual copying, the Industrial Revolution and the introduction of the steam powered rotary press allowed thousands of copies of a page in a single day. Mass production of printed works flourished after the transition to rolled paper, as continuous feed allowed the presses to run at a much faster pace.

Gutenberg’s invention did not make him rich, but it laid the foundation for the commercial mass production of books. The success of printing meant that books soon became cheaper, and ever wider parts of the population could afford them. More than ever before, it enabled people to follow debates and take part in discussions of matters that concerned them. As a consequence, the printed book also led to more stringent attempts at censorship. This was a sign that it was felt by those in authority to be dangerous and challenging to their position.

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