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Reviews Ideas in the Seventeenth Century DOUGLAS CHAMBERS Michael Hunter, editor. Archives ofthe Scientific Revolution: The Formation and Exchange of Ideas in Seventeenth-Century Europe Woodbridge, Suffolk. Boydell Press 1998 Rolf H. Bremmer, Jr, editor. Francis Junius F.F. and His Circle Amsterdam and Atlanta: Editions Rodolpi 1998 To the modem mind, the word 'author' is identified with property and intellectual ownership, although no one who has thought very long about how modem recorded music - whether classical or popular - is produced canbe unaware of the debate about 'authorship' in tha t domain. In what sense is a recording of a Beethoven piano concerto, based on a newly re-edited score, reinterpreted by a modern conductor in conjunction with a piano soloist who has his own 'reading,' and subsequently re-engineered by a recording engineer and a production engineer, simply the work of Beethoven? In the issue of the London Review for 7 January 1999, John Sutherland criticized the appropriation of authors' (Le. writers') property by publishers, databanks, and even academic institutions as evidence of the waning of the author's power. (This subject is also dealt with in Rosemary Coombe's The Cultural Life of Intellectual Properties.) Sutherland's article is evidence of how difficult it is for us to (re)construct an intellectual milieu in which the word 'author' might mean (as it also did until well into the eighteenth century) the editor or even publisher of a work: 'he who authorizes or instigates' as the OED also defines the word. What that older sense of 'author' bespeaks is a world before the law of intellectual property had become a matter of statute, and before the concept of 'original genius' had taken hold. But it also bespeaks - what is still familiar in the physical sciences - the sense of a work as emerging out of a common enterprise. Neither Banting nor Best was the sole 'author',of insulin, but then neither was Perrault the 'author' of Les Contes de Ma Mere L'Oye. And John Clare, whose poems were in part 'invented' by his publisher, John Taylor, could still use the old sense of 'invention' as 'finding' to describe how he found his 'poems in the fields and . only wrote them down.' 616 DOUGLAS CHAMBERS Archives of the Scientific Revolution is an account by various scholars of the archives ofGaliIeo, HartIib, Boyle, Newton, Leibniz, Christiaan Huygens, Marcello Malpighi, Sir William Petty, Ismael Bouillau, and the archives of the Royal Society and the French Academie des Sciences. The world that this collcciton of essays examines is one in which the appropriation and reappropriation of ideas make a nonsense of rigorous codes of plagiarism or scholarly possession. Among Leibniz's manuscripts in Hanover, asJamesO'Hara paints out here, are not only his owndrafts and extracts but 'copies of historical documents and a mass of sundry papers' that are not his own work. And Rob Iliffe has similarly observed that it is often difficult or even impossible to tell whether notes or papers represent Newton's'original' thoughts or'merely' his adaptations of different texts, or even, in the cases of theology and alchemy, whether they are 'his' thoughts at all. lllis makes the task of the cataloguer and editor a nighhnare that is at least as bad as the dispersal of archives in the first place. John Evelyn, for example, thought that Francis Junius had written De Quatuor artibus popularibus, a work by Gerrard Vossius that Junius had 'only' edited. Indeed it was the 'collegiality' of knowledge that struck Junius when he went to Cambridge in 1614 ... and that interests some of the contributors to Francis Junius F.E and His Circle. The very founding of the Royal Society itself lay in groups such as Samuel Hartlib's 'Office of Address' and Wilkins's 'Invisible College'; information exchanges that prefigured not only the future meetings of the Royal Society but also what now takes place on the Internet and the World Wide Web. The correspondence networks of scholars (as Robert Hatch observes about the Copemicanscholar Bouillau) tell us much about the way in which 'discoveries' are assembled. Solitary though we imagine such scholars as Boyle and Newton to have been, even their...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 615-618
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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