Manuscript Culture in the Age of Print and the Case of Nineteenth-Century Iceland
Taking its title from Marshall William Fishwick's description of "wordmongers" as those whose principal vocation is “speaking and writing words,” this book is a study of manuscript and scribal culture in the age of print. While the first part explores the flourishing scholarship of post-medieval scribal culture in Europe and beyond during the last generation and advocates a radical revision of traditional dichotomies (manuscript versus print, literacy versus illiteracy) in favor of more complex paradigms (multiple modes and media of transmission and reception), the second part focuses on literary and scribal culture in nineteenth-century Iceland.
Davíð Ólafsson examines the societal framework of textual creation and consumption, as well as the specific case of the farmer, fisherman, and scribe Sighvatur Grímsson (1840–1930) and his cultural environment. The microhistorical approach of Wordmongers considers the career of this remarkable protagonist and the concentric impact his literary production had on his intimate community, Icelandic society, and the wider European and global context during the “post-Gutenberg era.”
Davíð Ólafsson is a historian associated with the Reykjavík Academy, an institution for independent humanities and social science scholars in Iceland.