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228 × 133 × 30 mm
352 pages
150 illustrations
01 Mar 2003
  • £14.95

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A History of Writing Steven Roger Fischer

From the earliest scratches on stone and bone to the languages of computers and the internet, A History of Writing offers an investigation into the origin and development of writing throughout the world. Commencing with the first stages of information storage – knot records, tally sticks, pictographic storytelling – the book then focuses on the emergence of complete writing systems in Mesopotamia in the fourth millennium BC, and their diffusion to Egypt, the Indus Valley and points east, with special attention given to Semitic writing systems and their eventual spread to the Indian subcontinent.

Also documented is the rise of Phoenician and its effect on the Greek alphabet, generating the many alphabetic scripts of the West. Chinese, Korean and Japanese writing systems and scripts are dealt with in depth, as is writing in pre-Colombian America. Also explored are Western Europe’s medieval manuscripts and the history of printing, leading to the innovations in technology and spelling rules of the 19th and 20th centuries. Illustrated with numerous examples, this book offers a global overview in a form that everyone can follow. The author also reveals his own discoveries made since the early 1980s, making it a useful reference for both students and specialists as well as the general reader.

‘[An] authoritative account . . . if you're intrigued with writing’s past, Fischer’s book is well worth a read . . . a brilliant book.’ — New Scientist

‘[It] is wonderful . . . to see a subject that embraces so much of human civilisation handled with the wide knowledge and breadth of vision it deserves’ — Nature

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Steven Roger Fischer FRS is the author of many popular books including A History of Language (1999) and A History of Writing (2001), both published by Reaktion.

1. From Notches to Tablets
2. Talking Art
3. Speaking Systems
4. From Alpha to Omega
5. The East Asian 'Regenesis'
6. The Americas
7. The Parchment Keyboard
8. Scripting the Future
Select Bibliography
Illustration Acknowledgements